Last night I caught episode #1 of Steven Soderbergh‘s The Knick. I’m sorry but I felt a little…inconclusive about it. My basic problem was Clive Owen‘s cocaine addiction. I can’t invest in a lead character, even a brilliant surgeon, who’s on a self-destructive downswirl. Life is difficult and draining enough without a monkey on your back. Otherwise I found it smart, layered, downbeat, well-written-ish, very nicely shot (kind of Gordon Willis -y), all but humorless (that bit with the cigarette-smoking nun insulting those two guys wasn’t funny enough), grisly, intriguing and sometimes fascinating in a period atmosphere sense…and just a bit underwhelming, I have to say.

The highlights were (a) a startling if stomach-churning surgery scene that began with Owen shooting cocaine into a patient’s spine and (b) a portrayal of professional/urban racism as it existed 114 years ago. I don’t know what I was expecting but I wanted something more. Something crazier, sexier, more sinister…I don’t know. I realize it might take two or three episodes to really kick in. You can’t just pull narrative tension out of a hat, but maybe if Soderbergh had thrown in a nice sprawling CG shot or two of lower Broadway or some other distinctive Manhattan neighborhood. I’m not that hard to please.

Three days ago I added the Cinemax realm to my Time Warner lineup so I could watch the entire Knick run. “Realm” in this instance means 11 channels. In the 90069 area we’re talking channel 430 plus channels 522 through 531. Five minutes after I ordered Cinemax ($15 extra per month) I noticed I was only getting 430 and 522 — the other MAX channels were black. I reported this to the Time Warner guys and they said we’ll fix it. I figured they would. Just before last night’s 10 pm airing I turned on the set…zip. Not a single Cinemax channel. Back with the TW guys. Unplug your cable box, the woman said. I did that, waited, re-plugged, waited five and then ten minutes and it wouldn’t reboot. In fact, every single channel was gone. Hmmm, she said. Push the off button, she suggested. How is that any different than unplugging it?, I said. I did it anyway and blah-dee-blah and the system still wouldn’t reboot.

Would you like us to send a technician to your home next Wednesday? No, thanks — I need to watch stuff this weekend. I’m really sorry I even ordered Cinemax because the rebooting killed everything. I’ll just come by and pick up a new cable box tomorrow at the TW office on La Cienega. And then, out of the blue, Cinemax 522 appeared, and I was able to catch the last 40 minutes of the 10 pm Knick airing, and then I watched the entire 11 pm airing. But the other channels plus the Guide were still dead. But this morning I turned on the set and everything was cool and restored. All Cinemax channels plus all the rest including EPIX, which I also recently purchased so I can watch the color version of Alexander Payne‘s Nebraska on Sunday night.

Bottom line: If you turn your box off Time Warner needs several hours to fully reboot. Jerks.