Saturday, June 03, 2023

The Latest on the Return of Dr. Algernon Edwards

As an admirer of actor André Holland, I was heartened to read the following update from The Decider’s Meghan O'Keefe on the progress of the long overdue third season of The Knick (2014-2015). In this show, André stars as Dr. Algernon Edwards, an African-American assistant chief surgeon at a fictionalized version of the Knickerbocker Hospital (the Knick) in New York City during the early twentieth century.

In 2020, [director] Steven Soderbergh confirmed to The Playlist that a third season of The Knick was in development. This new season would focus on Andre Holland’s character, Dr. Algernon Edwards, and Academy award winning director Barry Jenkins would take over the directorial baton.

Of course, a little thing called COVID happened in 2020. Then in 2021 – when The Knick finally made it to HBO Max – Soderbergh could only confirm to Rolling Stone that he had read a pilot by [writers Michael] Begler and [Jack] Amiel and was acting as a “cheerleader” on the project.

Since then, all we’ve heard about the project is that Begler and Amiel were kicking around their Knick spin-off at HBO when Team Downey [aka Susan Downey, Amanda Burrell, and Robert Downey, Jr.] recruited them to take over showrunning responsibilities for Perry Mason Season 2. So does that mean The Knick is dead in the water? Especially since Begler confirmed to Decider he’s hoping for a Perry Mason Season 3 greenlight?

“I mean, it’s still alive. We’re still developing it. We’ve actually written – Jack and I wrote the first script – and then we have a writer who’s literally just finishing up a second script that we’re going to present to HBO. I know that they really loved the first script,” Begler said.

“The center of the show would be the character of Algernon, who was played by André Holland, and we would advance the story. We would start it actually in around 1919. And it would be really about him moving up to Harlem and him opening up a clinic in the Harlem Renaissance. So it would have a real sort of different, cool vibe to it.”

So, take heart, Knick fans! The spin-off focusing on André Holland’s captivating and brilliant doctor is not dead yet. In fact it’s still very much alive.

To read Meghan O’Keefe’s piece on the third season of The Knick in its entirety, click here.

Above: Doctor Algernon Edwards, powerfully and movingly portrayed by André Holland.

Writes Ben Travers: “André Holland is the best thing about The Knick. Admittedly, Cinemax’s turn-of-the-20th-century medical drama features a bevy of exquisite work, [with] everyone [involved] working at the top of their game. But Holland, somehow, has exceeded even the industry titans to create a fascinating character played by an equally compelling actor.”

Above: Juliet Rylance and André Holland in The Knick (2014-2015). In the first season of the show, Algernon manages a secret after-hours clinic in the basement for African-Americans, who ordinarily are turned away from the hospital. He also encounters constant racism from white doctors and patients, all the while engaging in a clandestine relationship with Cornelia Robertson (Juliet Rylance), head of the Knick’s social welfare office and daughter of Captain August Robertson (Grainger Hines), a prominent member of the Knick’s board of directors.

Above: In this scene from the first season of The Knick, Dr. Edwards’ care of a young girl is interrupted by the girl’s mother who objects to her daughter being touched by a black man. It’s just one of many slights and insults Algernon must endure on a daily basis.

Above: Meawhile in the basement of the Knick, Algeron establishes and maintains a clandestine clinic to treat non-white people turned away by the hospital.

Above: Dr. Algernon Edwards with his nemesis, Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson). Gallinger, more than anyone else at the hospital, is overtly hostile to Algernon. In season two of The Knick, Dr. Gallinger becomes increasingly involved in the emerging eugenics movement of the time. In doing so, he becomes convinced that his labeling of Italians, Jews, homosexuals, and Black people as “social plagues” is not just an opinion but science-based. Therefore, reasons Gallinger, there must be a medical solution to the problem of these “social plagues.”

Above: André’s Dr. Algernon Edwards in a rare relaxed moment.

Above: A more typical look for the beleaguered Dr. Edwards.

Above: Season two introduces Opal Edwards (Zaraah Abrahams), Algernon’s European wife.

Above: André Holland as Dr. Algernon Edwards and Clive Owen as Dr. John Thackery in The Knick.

Interestingly, André’s character in The Knick is said to be based on the historical Dr. Daniel Hale Williams (left) and Dr. Louis T. Wright.

The lives and accomplishments of these two medical pioneers are among the many stories of African-Americans that are rarely told in films or TV series – something that André Holland is dedicated to rectifying.

Following is a 2015 interview with André about the character he plays in The Knick.

Related Off-site Links:
André Holland Talks The Knick, Research for the Role, Racism of the Era, Selma, and More – Christina Radish (Collider, October 17, 2014).
André Holland Exclusive Interview – The via YouTube (August 10, 2015).
André Holland interview: The Knick – Michael Noble (Vulture, August 19, 2015).
The Knick Season 1: Inside The Costume Shop – Andre Holland – Cinemax via YouTube (October 16, 2015).
The Knick Season 2: Dr. Algernon Edwards Angles for Chief of Surgery – Gazelle Emami (Vulture, October 9, 2015).
André Holland Reacts to Algernon’s Surprise on The Knick and More Season 2 Shockers – Ben Travers (IndieWire, October 30, 2015).
22 Photos That Prove Moonlight’s Andre Holland Deserves Your Gaze – Nancy Einhart (Pop Sugar, February 25, 2017).
Is The Knick Based on a True Story? – Greta Bjornson (Decider, March 2, 2021).

For other André Holland-related news, see:
André Holland and Gemma Chan to Topline Helmer Duke Johnson’s Neon Pic The Actor – Matt Grobar (Deadline, April 4, 2023).
High Fyling Bird Is One of the Best Netflix Films You’re Not Watching – Dominic Griffin (Baltimore Beat, February 21, 2023).
Tiffany Boone Joins André Holland in Apple’s Huey P. Newton Series Big Cigar – Joe Otterson (Variety, June 15, 2022).

For more of André Holland at The Wild Reed, see:
André Holland: “There Are So Many Stories in Our Community That Are Yet to Be Told”
Vulnerability Is Power
Stephen A. Russell on Moonlight

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