Monday, February 25, 2008

Back to the Junkyard, Knight Rider!

Some childhood memories are better left in the realm of pure nostalgia. The TV show “Knight Rider” is one of them. After watching last week’s pilot TV movie, it seems pretty clear that the producers have no intent to improve on the legacy (like “Battlestar Galactica” did); rather, they’ve demonstrated pretty clearly that they’re simply slicing off another piece of cheese. To be fair, the series idea was pretty corny to begin with: a lone guy (okay, maybe not quite so lone, it seems despite the show’s intro he has a pretty sophisticated technical support team that can drop in when needed for things like fuel, repairs, sandwiches and the occasional attempt at witty banter, but still, the narrator in the old series told us he was a lone man, so let’s take him at his word) driving a car that’s tricked-out with an artificial intelligence and battling the forces of evil. In short, it was a cowboy show for a synthesizer music and neon-clothing generation. About the only part of this frontier American dream we didn’t see was the ‘Hoff periodically bursting into song like Roy Rogers would have. Then again… maybe he did at some point, and perhaps my memory of those old episodes is failing… that or my mind has walled-off the trauma of hearing him yowl away. Anyhow, you’d think if they were going to resurrect this odorous carcass (And not for the first time, might I add! Does anyone remember the “Knight Rider” TV movie[s?] back in the 90’s, or the execrable “Knight Rider 2000” [a team approach that was only lacking a merged colossus to be “Voltron”], or that transparent rip-off “Viper”?) the producers would have at least sat down and tried to figure out how to improve the thing. Apparently not. The changes here are trivial: we’re dealing with the son of Michael Knight (although the ‘Hoff did lumber onscreen in the final act to muse semi-soberly briefly); KITT is now a bulky-looking, nano-tech-enhanced, colour-changing (“Viper” rip-off, anyone?) Mustang instead of a Trans-Am; KITT’s voice is now that of Val Kilmer – sounding kinda baked – instead of the deliciously smarmy William Daniels; home base is now the belly of a cargo plane rather than the rear of a semi-trailer; and the afore-mentioned Mr. Knight Jr. is now an arms-length agent of the FBI, rather than a vigilante. Aside from that, pretty much the same show. Makes me wonder how long it’ll be before we see Goliath or KARR trundling down the lane for a confrontation. What I found curious was that while they mentioned the former KITT once or twice in passing (though they didn’t mention the “Knight Rider 2000” team – and who could blame them?), and while they cleaned-up the ‘Hoff long enough for a couple of minutes on-screen, why didn’t they bother giving the old KITT a little screen-time to bridge the generation gap? Granted, the last we saw of KITT in the 90’s TV movie was his AI module being removed from wreckage and mounted into Michael’s old 50’s jalopy, but still, woulda been nice to at least see him roll up to chauffeur the ‘Hoff outta that scene. Then again, I guess the big question is, why would I care? This flick was so bad I thought I should have carted off my TV to the scrap yard when it was over. Definitely not something I’ll be watching when it starts its regular primetime run.
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