Movie: Knight Rider Doesn’t Suck… much
Nostalgia is a funny thing. In my mind shows like SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN, THE A-TEAM, MAGNUM PI and, of course, KNIGHT RIDER, stand as the pinnacles of television awesomeness. Yeah, they don’t hold up very well now (although Magnum remains infinitely watch-able) but the reason they are remembered so fondly, by so many, is because they delivered exactly what Friday / Saturday night TV viewing should: Pure entertainment.
Knowing full well that Michael Knight was going to come out on top, or that at some point Mr T and the Team were going to cause the bad guy’s car to inexplicably launch itself into a text book barrel roll, detracted exactly ZERO from the entertainment value of these shows. The fact that they endure in the hearts and minds of my generation is testament to the entertainment that they provided. What’s more, they did it in a time before the internet, before the laser like accuracy of modern marketing technology and chicanery. No, when you sat down to watch one of these shows it wasn’t because you were compelled by an explosion of online speculation, or a barrage of unanswered questions. The only question asked, as the opening credits started to roll, was: “Who’s gonna have slow motion barrel thrown at them, by Steve Steve Austin, this week?”.
When this current wave of ‘re-imaginings’ started to surface, and particularly when they started combing 80’s television for fuel, I was initially quite hostile towards the idea. These shows are sacred to me and the idea of people messing with my childhood memories had me a little on edge. But with the success of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and [based entirely on the un-aired version of the pilot] THE BIONIC WOMAN it was proven that these concepts could be successfully adapted — even if The Bionic Woman ended up being butchered before it even aired, and subsequently axed.
With that in mind I sat down to watch Knight Rider (2008) fully expecting it to have had the same gritty treatment as other re-imagined series have received. However I was surprised to find that this (by no means the first revisit to the Knight Rider well), stayed pretty faithful to the original series, in content and in spirit.
When Charles Graiman (Bruce Davison), the inventor behind the original talking car, goes missing, his estranged daughter is saved from an abduction attempt by an updated version of the Knight Industries Three Thousand. The new K.I.T.T (voiced by Val Kilmer) has been programmed to collect Graiman’s brilliant, Ph.D. candidate, daughter, Sarah Graiman and the one man that Graiman trusts to look after her.
Knight Rider (2008) is being called a ‘back door’ pilot, which basically means that it’s being used to ‘feel out’ how receptive audiences would be to a new series. This doesn’t mean that the movie will translate exactly into a series, should one be picked up, as normally a lot of tweaking takes place before the latter makes it to screen. Painkiller Jane is a good example of just how much can change between a TV movie and subsequent series, in its case quite literally everything, bar the title, changed.
Hopefully we will see a series result from this movie, and hopefully not too much will change. I’m not saying the movie is perfect; heck, despite what I said earlier, I think the show could use a little ‘gritting up’. However, for the most part, Knight Rider 2008 is a reminder of the days when TV was a hell of a lot simpler than it is now. Sure, it’s cheesy – But it’s a lot more fun than watching the news.