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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.

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    Cheesy? Check. Hot girls? Check. Awesome car? Check. That talks? Check. Am I going to watch this? You bet!

    Sounds good elroy. Interesting how the gritty nature of some re-makes or re-DESTROYINGS, can be good or bad.

  • I’m not sure what it is Morgs. The fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously (a hallmark of the original series) certainly means you can forgive it when it stumbles.

    It’s certainly far from A+++++ television, but it was mindless, enjoyable and fun.

    The new car IS damn cool and you’ll be happy to know that one of the reasons that this movie was even made was because the studio guys were inspired by the success of the Transformers movie.

  • That car is tough as fuck, so it was a great choice, thats for sure.

    Mindless too? WOW! Where do I sign up? :D

  • And what about the theme music??? All of the 80’s classics had theme music you could definitely hum to.

    Ah, the good old days!!

  • I disagree, the Knight Rider movie didn’t do a lot to stand out. In a lot of ways to me at least it was pretty generic, and well there was never a “wow” factor. It wasn’t quiet boring, but it hardly had me clamoring for more. Sure the graphics were neat, but so what if the story is so blah? If they’re going to make a series, they’re going to have to do a lot more.

  • Oh, there is no doubt that the movie left a LOT of room for improvement Ben. What I meant when I said that I hoped not a lot would change, is that I hoped they stayed with the concept that this is a continuation of the original series.

    The plots will need to pick up the pace, but the movie / pilot did a good job of introducing the new characters and tying them into the Knight Rider ‘universe’.

    The acting and dialogue didn’t completely suck – not like say, Flash Gordon – and on the whole the characters were pretty likeable. I enjoyed that they made the ‘bad guys’ cartoony and dysfunctional, yet still made them a significant threat.

    So many other ‘re-imaginings’ completely trash the original version by changing everything about the show, some do it to great effect, other’s not so much. But in a landscape were everything on television wants to be the new LOST or HEROES (not that I don’t love those shows) I found it refreshing that this movie was proud of its classic roots.

    I guess, for me, it came down to the fact that they seemed more intent on making some escapist entertainment, then being the next greatest show on television… but, of course, you’re also entirely entitled to your opinion.

  • Sorry Macca, I missed your comment there! You’ll be happy to know that they actually used a remixed version of the original theme.

    The good lady Barbarella gave me the oddest look when I cheered as it started playing! :D

  • No chance of sticking a *.wav of the theme here on the site, is there?…

  • Your wish is my command Macca.

    It deviates more than I remembered (after only one viewing) but, if you’re anything like me, it’s that opening bass pulse that you’re wanting to hear – And it’s there in all it’s glory. Enjoy.

  • The fact you enjoyed this is disturbing on so many levels. Even taking nostalgia and cheese into account this show was shit. HORRIBLE ACTING, and I don’t mean good actors being cheesy like on Dr Who, I mean just mindnumbling annoying people talking about bullshit. Also the whole show is just a giant fucking ad for the Ford Mustang. I got sick of that shit in CSI Miami when every badguy, victim and cop drove a Mustang. I feel so sorry for Val Kilmer.