A frequent complaint made by fans of cult movies and TV shows is that reboots seems to be the norm these days. For many of us, the creators of our favourite shows got it right first time and a killer combination of nostalgia and sugar-addled childhood memories means that a lot of reboots have a tough audience to contend with. The key to a good reboot, therefore, is to keep all the stuff that the old fans like, whilst improving on the flaws of the original. And of course, good stories deserve to be retold.
The problem is, that Knight Rider is not a good story. It’s a crap idea with a very silly premise that worked due to a combination of eighties consumerism, machismo and the eerie attractiveness of David Hasselhoff. Could you possibly relaunch the show without the cheddar-like charm of The Hoff?
The 2008 Knight Rider movie almost gets it right. Let’s be honest, the appeal of the show is about one exceptionally cheesy hero taking on the world with the aid of incredibly advanced (and sentient) car, who happens to be extremely sarcastic. The movie was intended to be a back-door pilot for a series, and the movie itself is quite fun. Sinister bad guys are on the lookout for the esoteric AI technology that brought the original KITT to life. The show invents a new genius to be responsible for KITT’s existence, which happens to be on the run. A new version of KITT (Knight Rider Three Thousand, replacing the previous Knight Rider Two Thousand) comes to the rescue. The robot car (now equipped with internet access and the world’s best wi-fi) picks up the genius’s daughter, who also happens to be the ex-girlfriend of one Mike Traceur, an ex-army all action hero who knows a lot about cars and has a mysterious past. Together, the two rescue the errant genius, fight bad guys and form a new crime-fighting organisation, centred on Mike and KITT. (We get a brief cameo from the Hoff, but not one long enough to make a difference.)
It’s flawed, of course. The plot makes little sense if you look at it too closely and the new super car is an incredibly ugly looking Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR. Its new super powers are nice (it can shape shift and auto-repair) and the voice of KITT is Val Kilmer, who is the strongest actor on the show.
Alas, they then produced a whole TV series off the back of this pilot. It took a year for them to get their act together, and several of the cast from the pilot had already found better prospects. The budget is clearly much lower, and the show itself looks more like an incredibly cheap version of Hawaii 5-0 or NCIS. The stories are pretty much all the same, and Val Kilmer’s charm isn’t strong enough to carry the show.
The boxed set comes with plenty of DVD extra style pieces, and you get the feeling the actors and producers know they are in a turkey. One for completest fans only.
KNIGHT RIDER: SEASON 1 (2008) / CERT: 15 / DIRECTORS: JAY CHANDRASEKHAR, ALLAN KROEKER, BRYAN SPICER / SCREENPLAY: DAVE ANDRON, GLEN A. LARSON, MATT PYKEN, GARY SCOTT THOMPSON, ROB WRIGHT, PHILIP LEVENS, PATRICK MASSETT, JOHN ZINMAN / STARRING: VAL KILMER, JUSTIN BRUENING, DEANNA RUSSO, SYDNEY TAMIIA POITIER, BRUCE DAVISON, PAUL CAMPBELL, YANCEY ARIAS, SMITH CHO / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW