Knight Rider: Season One

Knight Rider

For fans Knight Rider: Season One is a must have, for those that have never really watched the series it is an excellent way to get to know a classic, enjoyable series.

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Americans have always appreciated the rugged individual, the man that could stand up to evil and strive to make a difference. Well, usually he’s not completely alone, there is usually a sidekick. In the early eighties this concept took a turn that would become part of American pop culture. Take the Lone Ranger and Tonto, take away the horse and replace him with a super powerful car and you have Knight Rider. In the pilot Michael Long, an undercover cop, is shot in the face and left for dead. He is retrieved by billionaire and reclusive genius Wilton Knight (Richard Basehart), healed, has his face altered and given the opportunity to fight crime. Renamed as Michael Knight (David Hasselhoff) he is given the Knight Industries Two Thousand, K.I.T.T., an invulnerable talking car (voiced by William Daniels). Together they hit the road to fight crime. While there are the stereotypical characters and situations the series became popular because it is fun to watch. For example there is Michael’s supervisor, Devon (Edward Mulhare), English, fussy and always at ends with Michael. Since K.I.T.T. is after all a car he needs a mechanic and Knight Industries supplies Dr. Bonnie Barstow (Patricia McPherson ), a combination of beauty and brains.

Each episode is basically a variation on pretty much the same theme. Michael is assigned a task by Devon, he meets a gorgeous damsel in distress, gets into trouble and K.I.T.T. bales him out. What makes the Knight Rider series work is this is pure entertainment. Not even the remotest attempt is made to address social issues or moral conflict. It harkens back to the old westerns where the good guys wore white and the bad guys black. You have to consider the time Knight Rider was on television, the early eighties. This was a time of cities in financial ruin; unemployment was up and wars where breaking out all over the world. The last thing the audience wanted was to watch anything serious. Knight Rider provided good old escapism. While it was strange to see a man sitting seemingly alone in a car having a conversation, the banter between Michael and K.I.T.T. is famous. K.I.T.T. was a metrosexual long before the term was even coined. The contrast between the rugged Michael and the fussy K.I.T.T. gives humor as well as action. While both man and car are vital to the series K.I.T.T.’s abilities never over shadow the human component of the story. While he usually bails Michael out the special effects are kept reasonably limited allowing the humans to take center stage.

Say what you will about David Hasselhoff but he knows how to entertain. His characterization of Michael Knight in Knight Rider is classic. With his curly tossed hair he saunters into ever situation and takes control. He is the classic all American hero devoted to righting every wrong he comes across, especially if it involves a beautiful woman. William Daniels is an extremely well trained, versatile actor of exceptional talent in Knight Rider. Whether on stage or screen he has a commanding presence that made him the definitive John Adams in the musical 1776.

As the voice of K.I.T.T. he is petulant, bossy and demanding. Ironically, Williams played the same character type as a cardiac surgeon on St. Elsewhere, a role he held concurrently with Knight Rider. If any other actor was cast as the voice of K.I.T.T. I seriously doubt Knight Rider would have achieved the success it garnered. Edward Mulhare is another actor that has quite a range. In Knight Rider, unfortunately his screen time is usually restricted to a few minutes at the start of the show and maybe once in a break in the action. While Patricia McPherson’s character was supposed to be a PhD wardrobe always found a pair of overalls one size too small for her. This was another classic eighties move, that a woman could be beautiful and have a demanding career.

Knight Rider was created by television legend Glen A. Larson. For decades this man was virtually unstoppable in the presentation of hit shows. From Battlestar Galatica, to Quincy to Buck Rogers, Larson’s imagination was transferred more to the small screen than just about anybody else. Not only did Larson create all these popular series this talented man wrote the theme music for most of them. If you think back a little these themes remain in our minds decades after the show has gone off the air. Larson knows how to keep an audience coming back week after week. He creates characters the viewers can relate to or at least want to be. Here was a man that gave the public what they wanted, not greatness to be sure but true entertainment.

Universal is rapidly leading the way with the presentation of DVDs. They are constantly setting the bar higher than their competitors. The Knight Rider four disc set is such an example. Each of the four discs is two sided covering all twenty three episodes of the first season. The audio is almost exclusively in the center speaker but I liked it that way. It reminded me of the original pre-home theater experience. The video is mostly clear although there were a few noticeable specks and spots to be found. As for the extras, one word, wow. The Knight Rider pilot episode features a commentary track with David Hasselhoff and Glen Larson. It was an interesting look back at a show they both are proud of.

For featurettes there is Knight Moves concerned with how K.I.T.T. performed his stunts and Knight Sounds, a little tribute to the imagination of the Foley artist that created the distinctive and now famous sound of the car. There are blueprints of K.I.T.T., just in case you want to build your own and an interactive owner’s manual. As if that is not enough there is the complete sequel television movie, Knight Rider 2000.

For fans Knight Rider is a must have, for those that have never really watched the Knight Rider series it is an excellent way to get to know a classic, enjoyable series.

Movie Review of Knight Rider: Season One by Doug MacLean of

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