When I was a kid, it didn’t get much better than Knight Rider.
I had a Knight Rider slot car race track that spent a lot of time taking up my mother’s beautiful dining room table.
And more recently, I’ve discovered those old episodes all over again thanks to the DVDs I’ve given as gifts to my friend James. We have marathons with his brother, Dan.
Every episode was pretty much the same. Michael Knight (David Hasselhoff) and his talking car, K.I.T.T., aka the Knight Industries Two Thousand, would be on vacation from their duties at the preposterously named Foundation for Law and Government.
(What does that even mean?)
Devon would call and say, “Michael, I need you to check something out.”
And Michael would be all, “K.I.T.T. and I are on vacation!”
But they’d check it out anyway. And at some point in the episode, gorgeous mechanic Bonnie (and then April, and then Bonnie again) would give K.I.T.T. some new modification that would coincidentally be absolutely perfect for getting him and Michael out of a jam by episode’s end.
And Michael would end up helping out a single mom. That’s how he liked them. And usually the single mom’s kid would be near K.I.T.T. and K.I.T.T. would say something and the kid would be all, “Wow! You can talk!”
And then there’d often be a subplot where bumbling criminals would try to break into K.I.T.T., and boy would he show them the score!
Silly, yes. But it was so, so, so much fun. And Hasselhoff had a natural charm that made it all work. He was in on the joke, and he made it feel very real to a kid like me who couldn’t have enough heroes in his life.
NBC recently decided to bring Knight Rider back as a new TV movie that did well enough in the ratings that it might turn into a series.
And it was pretty bad.
Which is surprising, given that one of the producers was Doug Liman, who directed The Bourne Identity.
The new K.I.T.T. is the Knight Industries THREE Thousand, voiced by … Val Kilmer!
Kilmer was the best part of the whole movie, giving K.I.T.T. a certain kind of confident intelligence that really clicked.
(And no, he didn’t tell anybody, “I’m your Huckleberry.”)
The new Michael is “Mike” Traceur, played by a soap opera guy who handled himself well in the action scenes but didn’t have a single iota of Hasselhoff’s trademark charisma.
They have to introduce him in bed with two girls just so we KNOW he’s a ladies’ man.
And then when they introduce his eventual lady cop liaison, she’s just gotten out of bed … with a woman!
There’s so much hilariously forced “hot” in the first few minutes … it’s so laughable.
The movie had pursuits, but none of the real, awesome stunts that made the original show so ahead of its time, like the time in the early second season episode when Michael and K.I.T.T. jumped over a real helicopter really hovering below the lip of the cliff K.I.T.T. was jumping. Mostly in the new movie, they just drove around talking.
The most we get here is a truck slamming into K.I.T.T. and buckling into pieces while K.I.T.T. is unharmed. But it was digital. Weak.
At one point, Mike is talking to his former love (who just happens to be the daughter of this new K.I.T.T.’s creator) about the car’s capabilities and she says K.I.T.T. runs on gasoline.
He finds this ridiculous. How can something so advanced run on gas?
She explains that if you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere and out of fuel, it’s easier to get some gas than it is to get liquid hydrogen, etc.
“Sometimes simple is better.”
Oh, if only the writers had listened.
Because this new K.I.T.T. can morph into various Ford products of various colors and grow things like a spoiler for high-speed driving.
Of course it’s revealed that Mike’s father is none other than … Michael Knight!
Even The Hoff knows, in his small cameo, that he’s too good for this crap.
I also find it tragically/hilariously ironic that Michael had to make Mike’s mom a single mother just to be able to love her.
As James said, “This show is breaking all the fucking rules.”
It doesn’t deserve to become a series. If it does, it needs to hit the ground earning it.