Sarah Graiman's life is turned upside down when her brilliant scientist father is attacked. His newest development, a Ford Mustang with an advanced bodyshell and artificial intelligence known as KITT (Knight Industries Three Thousand) is programmed to ensure Sarah's safety by locating Mike Traceur, a young man who broke Sarah's heart when she was younger. They both come under attack from the same men that attacked Sarah's father, men who are after Prometheus, the computer programme that controls all of the USA's defence systems. Is an advanced car enough to counter ruthless men with heavy firepower?
The original KNIGHT RIDER was a saturday night staple that made a star of David Hasselhoff (cameo alert) and now it comes back to the screen in a revamp thanks to the slew of old TV show updates trying to capture the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA lightning where others (BIONIC WOMAN anyone?) has failed. On this showing there is very little chance of that.
Bad things first and the biggest problem with the whole thing is Justin Bruening as Mike Traceur. He is a charisma black hole, sucking any charm out of the project. Say what you like about David Hasselhoff, but the man had charm in spades and made the show watchable. Bruening does the opposite and if the show works it's likely to be in spite of him, unless he improves dramatically. Deanna Russo is a likeable, but hardly stunning love interest, Sydney Tamiia Poitier is a cookie cutter FBI agent who is shown to be a lesbian in desperate attempt to make her hip and happening. Bruce Davison gets barely enough screen time to make an impact and yet proves to be better than all the main characters put together in that short time.
The real star of the show, as it ever was, is the car. KITT is a very flash Ford Mustang that looks cool even when it's not morphing to change its colour, proving to be bulletproof or growing extra spoilers to go really fast. There's no doubt going to be a whole raft of technology in there to be revealed in future weeks. Val Kilmer does a good job of voicing him as well, managing to be inflectionless enough to appear computer generated without being monotone and dull.
Monotone and dull, however, describes the plot which involves a lot of driving around to very little effect. The whole thing could have fitted into an hour long episode rather than being stretched out to this feature length pilot.
Still, this is only the pilot and so we need to cut it some slack, but the show, like its star, is going to have to improve dramatically if it is to maintain our attention.Top
A KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOUR
Michael and Sarah try to pick up a package at a foreign embassy, but their attempt is hijacked by some men who know who Mike Traceur is and want him bad. They seem to know him from Beirut, where he has never been, and they have some very, very heavy firepower on their side.
The first show of the new series proper and there are a couple of new faces on the team in the backroom staff. They've got some snappy dialogue as well, which is just as well as the front men of the team really haven't got the spark needed to make the show fly. Justin Bruening is given a shady past that will no doubt be explained in later episodes, but he and Deanna Russo manage to produce very little heat between them even when the plot manages to find an excuse to get them both down to their underwear in a very short time.
Ah yes, the plot. Well, there isn't one really. The tactic is to keep things moving so fast that nobody will really notice that there is a lot of movement but very little sense. And the bad guys manage to shoot an awful lot of bullets without hitting anything. KITT can change not only to grow new spoilers and change its colour, but now also to be a truck. The 'turbo boost' of the original show is back as well. It really doesn't matter because this car is just plain cool and there is nothing that anyone can do to dilute that.
Teenage boys might really like this. There's a cool car, lots of shooting, helicopters and missiles, fast talking and women who are super sexy on both sides of the law. What's not to like. Those of us looking for plot, character and something with a bit more depth than a sheet of A4 folded twice might have to go elsewhere. It's certainly a lot livelier than the Pilot.Top
JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE KNIGHT
Military secrets are being lost to the Chinese and the only link to how this is happening is through a sports car smuggling ring. Michael goes undercover to get in with the smuggling crew by beating them all at street racing. Complications ensue when he is offered a place, but only if he can steal a really rare and expensive car.
The opening two episodes of the show have firmly set out its stands in terms of aims and audience. In A Knight in Shining Armour it got Sarah and Michael down to their underwear and in this episode it has a whole party of sexy young women wearing not very much. The excuse for this is flimsy at best, but this episode challenges the bikini count of BAYWATCH on a good day.
The plot? Well that's ripped off from the first of the THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS films and has some racing for the action buffs, but there are some serious questions to be asked. Why, having made such a fuss in the last episode to make Mike Traceur 'disappear', do they put him straight into a mission that compromises his new cover? Why does KITT changing in mid air compromise his structural integrity? If he's fully changed by the time he hits the ground then surely he'd be fine?
None of this matters. KNIGHT RIDER is aiming for the teenage boy market with fast cars and nearly naked women. If that's all you need then this is the show for you, until the BAYWATCH revival that is.Top
KNIGHT OF THE IGUANA
Mike and tech head Zoe head to Baha to locate a missing agent who is trying to track down a smuggling ring dealing in military hardware.
This is POINT BREAK done KNIGHT RIDER style, although KITT does less in this episode than in any of the other ones to date (apart from borrowing the submarine idea from James Bond in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME. Although the bad guys and their motivations are stolen from that film, the show makes no attempt to tempt Michael into that world or seduce him with it, which undercuts any drama that the contrived ending might have possessed.
Smith Cho gets the chance to break out her bikini (that's two female stars in two weeks - one to go), but she proves to be an entertaining comedy relief. That said, the episode makes a big thing of her being a surfing babe and then never lets her get anywhere near a surfboard.
The opening sequence of overgrown boys playing with water pistols pretty much sets out the target audience for the show and it delivers a parade of well-filled bikinis and occasional explosions to keep them happy.Top
A HARD DAY'S KNIGHT
A deadly poison is injected into Michael's system that will kill him in three hours unless he can carry out a mission for a criminal that turns out to be the assassination of a target he hasn't been given.
There are elements of the films CRANK and DOA in this episode, which means to say they are the films from which the plot is lifted. On top of that, the whole face mask/altered voice gimmick is a direct lift from MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2 and the defib kit in the car comes from CASINO ROYALE. None of this would matter if the episode worked, but even the addition of a countdown to Michael's death running in the background fails to lift tension, excitement or even mild concern in the audience.
The fact that the poison is also acting on Michael as a truth drug gives occasional flashes of entertainment, but not enough. This is the least interesting episode to date.Top
KNIGHT OF THE HUNTER
A mercenary has declared war on the US federal government and has obtained a huge conventional warhead. Michael is sent in undercover to find out what the target for the weapon is and stop it. That, though, is going to prove harder than it seems.
There is just so much to scoff at in this episode's plot that it's hard to know where to start. There's the unlikelihood that the bad guys are going to accept Michael into their ranks only a day before their big attack, before or after a big torture session. It is obvious that if you ask the car to transform in the middle of a minefield that something's going to blow up and so it isn't going to save you any time. It's not believable that two agents who have just met and who are on the edge of freezing to death are going to make out. The whole side plot of the geeky girl teaching the geeky bloke how to defend himself is just plain pointless. Why do the people at home base keep ringing Michael up to ask him if he's sure what he's doing when that's what they hired him to do?
The list goes on and even the incidentals such as the inevitable excuse to get the cast to strip off and the car doing its stuff aren't enough to deflect the basic poorness of the story.Top
KNIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
It's Hallowe'en and there's a history of pranks being played on the main members of the facility, but this time the pranks turn real when a technician is found dead and KITT's self destruct mechanism has been armed, due to go off in half an hour. The only way to stop it is to find the killer, but there are nearly two thousand people working in the complex.
This episode starts off by referencing TORCHWOOD and HEROES, which certainly caught our attention, but if you don't see those shows then that will be completely lost on you. Furthermore, it's a reminder of just how much this show suffers in comparison.
That said, the stripped down, 'box room' script keeps everyone locked into a couple of sets and talking. This clearly saves a lot of money on location filming, but it also provides a sense of claustrophobia that works to the story's advantage. This allows the actors to breathe a bit (though only a bit because they're not up to too much) and there is a nice set of exchanges based around KITT's emerging personality and how technology like computer system back doors and self destruct mechanisms are a betrayal of 'his' trust.
On top of that there is the introduction of KARR (and no we can't remember what it stands for), a superadvanced robotic prototype that someone saved from the scrapheap after it killed 12 people. That's all linked with Mike's amnesiac backstory and will come back to cause tears before bedtime for sure.Top
I WANNA ROCK AND ROLL ALL KNIGHT
A would be Bonnie and Clyde are running around the country sabotaging the industrial complex and putting their exploits on the internet. Since the daddy of the little girl is the congressman who holds Knight Industries' research budget, Mike and KITT go after the pair to bring them to justice without hurting the girl. When she is brought in, however, she succeeds only in stealing every scrap of data on KITT.
This is an exercise in how stupid a story can be. When Mike and Sarah show up at the first target and spot the criminals' getaway car they pull their guns and go in after the bad guys. Do they disable the means of escape? No. Do they get KITT to block the exit? No. They then get taken in by the 'he made me do it' plea from the girl and she manages to hack through a high-tech firewall and upload all the secret information into a mobile phone in 3 minutes with her daddy watching and not noticing (since everyone else has left the room - clever people).
This is such nonsense from start to finish that any enjoyment that can be gained from the action is undermined and the frustration at just how stupid everyone is being ruins the whole experience.Top
KNIGHT OF THE ZODIAC
Mike goes undercover into a gang of theives none of whom have actually met. Their target is a casino's payroll. Can Mike string them along for long enough to catch them in the act or will they figure out that he's not thief?
A (very) poor man's OCEAN'S ELEVEN and goodwill has run out with this show. For one thing, it's really quite dull. Nothing much happens and the heist itself is so utterly inane that it disappoints on every level. Even the story of Billy the Geek getting laid does nothing for this episode.
The bikinis are back, however, in even more gratuitous form than ever before.Top
A raid on a truck releases a virus that attacks anything with electronics in it, which is pretty much everything these days. Mike has to stop the virus from getting to the internet in order to prevent a global catastrophe, but is distracted by Sarah's old boyfriend and KITT's strange behaviour.
An electronics attacking virus we don't have a problem with and it's a cute idea to use a hot Harley motorbike because it hasn't got any electronics, but a virus that can actually be seen, running around machines and wires and things? That's a lot harder to take and undermines an otherwise perfectly acceptable storyline.Top
DON'T STOP THE KNIGHT
A foreign ambassador is kidnapped by a shadowy figure with an arsenal of classy equipment. In return for her life, Mike must collect a few things including a prison convict, an x-ray machine and a box. These all turn out to be the components of a bomb.
As soon as everyone realises what the components being collected are for the plot falls apart as there is no way that anyone would swap a nuclear weapon for one kidnap victim. It's just too ridiculous. Also ridiculous is the fact that the turbo boost can now kick KITT over a 30 foot barbed wire fence and prisoner barracks without a ramp of any kind.
When the villain announces that he is hijacking the rest of the plot from SPEED it's hard to keep the will to live.Top
DAY TURNS INTO KNIGHT
With a nuclear bomb strapped into the boot which will explode if KITT goes under 100mph, the team have to come up with a clever plan to prevent a disaster.
In the conclusion of this two-parter, disaster piles on disaster. Carrie is in the hospital fighting for her life and the bad guy seems to have won. This is a much harder episode of KNIGHT RIDER than those that have gone before. There's very little humour and Mike takes down the bad guy's goons with a cold efficiency that is out of step with the show's usual cheery nature.
Carrie's fight for life gives consequences for the characters that have previously been missing. They can get hurt and the risk of death is compounded later on. It's no less silly and you can't help thinking all the way through that this is a dissaster that they've brought on themselves by giving away a nuclear weapon.Top
KNIGHT TO KING'S PAWN
Following the death of Charles Graiman, the operation is closed down by the intelligence guys who take KITT's artificial intelligence core in order to reactivate the KARR programme, a much more military application and one that went very, very wrong before. What's left of the team have to find a way to get KITT back and take out KARR before deciding what to do in the future.
If ever there was a KNIGHT RIDER story that needed a double episode then this is it. In the space of this one episode the whole set up is shutdown, Mike and Sarah deal with Charles's death, KITT's AI system is located, the main operations is broken into, Billy has to play video games for the last part of KITT's mind, Michael breaks into Area 51, KITT is stolen back, KARR is reactivated, Alex meets a nasty end and KITT and KARR go one on one to find out who's going to be the best. That's a lot of stuff to get into one episode and it shows. The final twenty minutes is one enormous rush, ruining the big moment of the showdown between KITT and KARR by not showing what KARR can really do and then rushing through the unforgiveably short fight in record time, so quick that it's hard to really see what's going on. This should have been the show's finest hour and it's botched, badly.
There are also clearly problems within the show because this is a total reboot episode. Last week Carrie was ignominiously dumped (she doesn't appear at all in this and isn't mentioned), Charles was wiped out and this week Alex is shown to be faithless and meets a suitable end. The government enforcer angle is totally wiped out and the ending sets the team up as once again a charitable foundation doing what they think is right. It's either a brave and gutsy move, or a desperate reshuffle. Time will tell which.Top
EXIT LIGHT, ENTER KNIGHT
Following their first mission as an independant unit, Mike stops to get coffee and finds himself embroiled in a bank robbery as a hostage. With KITT's monitoring of the internal bank systems, he tries to derail the robbers' plans, but those plans don't seem to make a whole lot of sense.
Apart from the sheer immensity of the coincidence of Mike being on the scene at the time that the robbery goes down, this is a pretty solid episode. The robbery itself is clever enough and the bad guys arent't above shooting hostages in the back to make their point, but there's very little that we haven't seen before in any number of straight cop bank hostage scenarios. Worse than that, KITT's involvement barely goes beyong watching.Top
The death of the toughest drill sergeant known to the army brings Michael to the aid of a friend who believes that it was murder and not post traumatic stress induced suicide. He discovers an underground cage fighting operation that is as brutal as it is illegal. They, unfortunately, also discover him.
KNIGHT RIDER flexes some muscles and gets all violent. This is about brutal fighting and it shows some fisticuffs going down, though not the blood and injury that can come of it. Justin Bruening shows that he can handle the action far better than the acting and the rest of the cast are reduced to barely a scene between them in this new version of the show. There are moments where it's as stupid as it's ever been (ex-military people don't shoot this badly), but it's got a tougher edge and sense of purpose.Top
FLY BY KNIGHT
A child is taken hostage by villains who are after a drugs shipment that was stolen by his father and to which only he knows the location. Hounded by the agent whose case this really is, Mike has to find a way to locate the bad guys and bring them down without getting the boy killed in the process.
This is a remarkably unexceptional episode in which not a whole lot of anything actually happens. Since we don't get a whole lot of time to bond with the hostage the threat to him is not something that readily transmits to the audience, undermining he attempts at suspense.
Better is the dialogue between Mike and KITT as they continue to hone their double act comedy routine, this time playing the parts of a bickering married couple. You can't help but smile. There's also quality dialogue as the hostages mother tells him not to 'encourage the car to be violent'. Almost priceless.Top
KNIGHT AND THE CITY
Mike takes some much needed R&R and makes a visit to a bar from his past run by an old friend called Sonny. Unfortunately, Sonny is dead and the bar is being assailed by gang violence and unexplained fires. Since Sonny’s daughter is stunning and has a thing for Mike, he decides to stick around and help find out who killed Sonny and why.
It doesn’t pay to be a friend of these people as you end up dead one way or another. Once again the show displays its financial limitations by making the full focus of the episode Mike and having KITT (the real reason that anyone is watching after all) sit outside the bar and pass occasional comments.
The interplay between the support staff back at the base also proves to be a lot more irritating than appealing.Top
I LOVE THE KNIGHT LIFE
An experimental serum that turns men into supermen and soldiers into supersoldiers gets stolen from a lab. Michael's investigations take him to a fancy nightclub (that's open in the day) and then on to face a man who has taken three vials of the stuff.
It's attack of the gratuitous bikini shots again as the club turns out to be a pool party with only the best filled swimsuits allowed. It's blatant and manipulative and exactly the kind of thing that has ensured that this update isn't going to see a second season. The plot ditches mystery for fight against a would-be Incedible Hulk about halfway through, but at least uses KITT as more than an electronic snooper.
KNIGHT RIDER had every chance of success as a revamp and the car (bored sounding Val Kilmer and all) was a success, but the writing, the direction and the main cast were never up to the spec.Top