More info on the new series...
Word is Larson’s film project is a ground up reworking of the KNIGHT RIDER mythos – which might appeal to folks who were passingly interested in the supercar concept, but didn’t really care for the original series too much.
NBC’s television movie/backdoor pilot, on the other hand, is VERY MUCH A SEQUEL to the original David Hasselhoff series. It takes the heart and soul of KNIGHT RIDER, gives it a little more edge…a dash more intelligence (but not too much)…an often clever sense of wit...slicks it up a bit…and hits the ground running.
Through most of David Andron’s teleplay, cursory allusions are made to a Trans-Am supercar from decades ago; Hasselhoff’s Michael Knight and K.I.T.T. have assumed something of an urban legend status. We don’t know what happened to them…or what became of their high-tech crime fighting exploits.
However, in the last third (or so) of the script, this project’s relationship to the original KNIGHT RIDER series becomes startlingly evident. This isn’t handled in a tip-of-the-hat, affectionate homage sort of way, either. By the end of the show, we realize we’re watching a sequel…a continuation…grounded in the same “universe” as the original, only with new characters. And some…who aren’t so new.
Is it fun? It’s fun. Is it great? It’s KNIGHT RIDER. KNIGHT RIDER (as a whole) is defined by cool cars doing dopey things, witty banter between an irascible driver and his supercomputer partner, and a frivolous lack of true jeopardy – hardly the stuff of lofty narrative. The same qualities are present here. There are also classically structured cliffhangers that lead us into commercials…we pick up right where we left off when returning from commercial breaks…in fact, the whole structure/feel of the show feels…80s.
This is NOT to say the show is fully retro; it is decidedly modern in sensibility and technology. This is primarily evident in the conception of, and treatment of, the new K.I.T.T. car.
Yes, the car still talks. I don’t know what voice they want to use…but references are made to the original KNIGHT RIDER theme music, and….given that this is a sequel…it’s safe to assume Wiliam Daniels (who voiced the original K.I.T.T.) would at least be considered.
K.I.T.T. now guides its driver through situations remotely, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE style – using a Bluetooth-like device to communicate verbally with operatives while tapping into security camera video feeds.
It uses high-end profiling software to locate (or evade) bad guys in a crowd. There’s a nifty cat and mouse sequence set in a casino…in which K.I.T.T. maneuvers its driver through a crowded room & away from the villains while cross-referencing badguy images lifted from surveillance footage that was snagged earlier.
It seizes and controls technological infrastructures (like power lines, computer networks, door controls, etc.) to facilitate missions.
It has an arsenal of portable tech human companions can use to this end…night vision devices and whatnot.
It can camouflage itself (primarily a color shifting technology, although there is some physical manipulation involved) - appearing to be other cars (the sense is that they're usually roughly the same mass).
K.I.T.T…is more like a Special Forces asset than a gimmick in this iteration.
It runs on gasoline (with performance optimized to over 140mpg via solar-powered back-up, etc.). It’s very autonomous…in fact, it is more or less the “hero” of this piece until approx half way through the script.
Its best sequence? There’s a moment when K.I.T.T. attempts to console someone who has lost her father. It’s a machine…an AI…and doesn’t know how to relate to raw emotions, so all it can do is try to be there for her by using (literally) textbook examples and research materials. K.I.T.T. feels very much like vintage Spock in this script. There’s a coldness to it, but also a sweet charm.