Monday, September 30, 2013

Classic TV (?): Knight Rider (1982)

In the 60's, there was the legendary sitcom, My Mother The Car, a fantasy-com that lasted just one season. Its premise suggested some sort of bizarre form of reincarnation or some such contrivance. However, viewers were made to assume that a talking car wasn't going to be a hit.

In 1982, producer Glen Larsen decided to test that theory with Knight Rider, which would end up being, I believe, his last series for Universal, as Larsen moved his tack to 20th Century Fox the following year.

Knight Rider told the story of a police officer, Michael Long (David Hasselhoff, ex-The Young & The Restless), who was recruited by the Foundation for Law And Government (FLAG), which essentially was a variation on the Witness Protection Program in that Long was supposedly dead. Rechristened Michael Knight, he became an agent for FLAG, and given a supercar, the Knight Industries Two Thousand (KITT), which had an onboard computer that talked to its driver. William Daniels, who was starring on another NBC show, St. Elsewhere, around the same time, was the voice of KITT, and I'd imagine most people will remember him more for this gig or his later role on Boy Meets World than for his 60's series, Captain Nice.

Knight Rider lasted four seasons, but there've been two revivals since, the last coming 5 years ago. The 2008 model, with Val Kilmer taking over as the voice of KITT, was a failure, largely because it was airing on the wrong night.

Following is the open, and closing credits from a sample episode. Richard Basehart (ex-Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea), who played Wilton Knight in the pilot episode, is the narrator, but his vocals have been deleted.

Of course, we all know that David Hasselhoff followed up with Baywatch, which lasted almost three times as long as Knight Rider did, and his non-involvement in the 2008 revival may've played a part in that series' abrupt end.

Rating: B.


magicdog said...

My mom used to tell me that MMTC failed primarily because no one wanted to think they or their mother would ever be reincarnated into an inanimate souless object like a car. At least Knight Rider's premise was a bit less far fetched.

We used to love watching it back in the heyday, although having come across repeats a while back on cable, the show doesn't hold up well. Mostly I think it's the style of writing and plotting back then. That goes for many other dramas/adventure shows during this time.

I remember a few different KR themed shows though not all directly involved Michael Knight or KITT. There was a syndicated show called, "Knight Rider 2010" which had nothing to do with the original show but for the name. There was a TV reunion movie in which KITT was temporarily installed in a 57 Chevy Bel Aire(Knight Rider 2000 ) and killing off Devon (I was so mad at THAT development!), and another syndicated sequel series called, "Team Knight Rider", because apparently a lone driver and his vehicle was no longer enough!

I saw an episode of the 2008 series, but it just wasn't for me. I missed Daniels' voice too much! He sounded like how an AI would - if that makes any sense.

I didn't know Basehart was the narrator or Wilton Knight! He died only 2 years later, and the body of his work was largely unknown to younger viewers like myself.

Daniels came off quite well, considering there's at least 3-4 different generations who remember him (or his voice) for his work on TV and the stage.

Hasselhoff didn't do badly with his "Baywatch/Baywatch Nights" shows but most people will think of him as that guy who talked to cars, that guy who romped on the beach as a lifeguard, the guy who was a pop star in Germany, or that guy who ate a sloppy hamburger!

Hey - Don't Hassel the Hoff!

hobbyfan said...

I missed the '08 series and Team Knight Rider, though those will be covered later.

I do remember the movie you speak of, though, with KITT's computer being placed in a Bel Air. That was wack. Daniels will return in the Boy Meets World sequel, Girl Meets World, due probably next year from Disney.