Steven Soderbergh‘s The Knick kicks off on Cinemax tonight. It has not been met with universal praise but four out of five critics are giving it back-pats. Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes ratings stand at 77% and 84% respectively, but the Metacritic gang tends to be a little tougher. I only know that it seems like an important-enough thing that I forked over an extra $15 so I can get Cinemax, which I’ve never had the slightest interest in. (This on top of the $8 monthly charge so I can watch the Sunday-night airing of the color version of Nebraska.) HBO Asia’s YouTube channel is making the first episode available for free for a two-week period (8.11 to 8.25).

This from a historical New York website: “Although the hospital depicted in The Knick is technically fictional, there was a Knickerbocker Hospital in New York during this time period. It will be interesting to see if the show’s institution bares any resemblance to the real Knickerbocker:

Knickerbocker Hospital. Location: Covent Avenue and 131st Street

Purpose: According to the 1914 Directory of Social and Health Agencies, “Gives free surgical and medical treatment to the worthy sick poor of New York City. Incurable and contagious diseases and alcoholic, maternity and insane patients not admitted. Emergency cases received at any hour.”

Statistics: In 1914 the Knickerbocker had 57 beds, 1,096 cases treated in a year

Funding: Care is free to “the worthy poor” and the hospital is supported by charitable contribution.

History: The hospital began its existence as the Manhattan Dispensary in 1862.