A Historic History Lesson
I remember quite well. It was 2007 and there were whispers on the interweb about a new Knight Rider series was in production. Then, out of the blue: BAM! Knight Rider was announced. It was coming back! I was so excited. With the option to use CGI, a brand new car and being a continuation of the story from the original series, it all looked really promising.
Here is KITT in action... BOOM!
Then the pilot aired. Yes, it lacked the polish of the original pilot, and it didn’t have features like Turbo Boost and Ski Mode, it was good foundation (get it?!) for the series to come.
However, the series had a different executive producer, and it turned out to be quite different to the new series pilot. While many write it off as an awful series that didn’t do anything right, I disagree. While on the whole it should have been much better than it was, it did get quite a few things right, and I quite enjoy it as a whole.
So in the interest of impartiality and fairness, I’ve spilt my points into two sections: What the series did right and what it didn’t get quite right. Let’s begin:
I've always maintained that the first thing you have to get right is the choice of car. While I wasn't a big fan of the choice when I first announced it, it has since become one of my favourite cars. (This is coming from a big Top Gear and The Grand Tour fan) It's a different direction from the original Transam, but I still reckon it's a worthy successor.
Considering it’s a supercar, it certainly is a supercar. With a 0-60mph in 4.2 seconds and a top speed of 180mph, the actual real-life car is fast to begin with! The modern mustangs have been a bit of hit and miss design wise, but I really do like this shape. Like the original series, there are a lot of great camera shots with KITT, with one particular shot filmed in the sunset, making the mustang look even cooler.
While the choice of car fits, what about KITT himself? While i’m never going to say it’s better than the original KITT (that will never happen), thankfully one thing they did get right in Knight Rider 2008 was KITT. Voiced by Val Kilmer, not an obvious but good choice, KITT got more and human sounding as the series went on. The new scanner, I definitively think is just as good as the original one.
So what about the dash? Well it isn’t as good as the original, it does have some great aspects. The voice orb introduced after the pilot was an upgraded version of the original KITT’s voice box, which for me actually worked better. Go figure. I also like the hi-tech display screen on KITT’s window, with lots more information being able to be displayed.
And I shall now address his biggest change: the transforming. Many people hated it, but I actually found it a good addition: partially. KITT transforming into attack mode or cars similar from the base mustang is great. This is a logic upgrade from SPM, and with extra weapon and other features, works well for an upgraded KITT. However, I didn't like him transforming into trucks and 4x4’s. Even the smaller Autobots from Transformers don't do that!
Mike and Sarah
Mike Traceur is a good character and a worthy heir to the throne so-to-speak. Considering he is Michael Knight’s son after all. Justin Bruening does a great job with the character with all the trails he has to face during his first year at Knight Industries. Well the ties to the original series are more down to FLAG and KITT, there are some ties to his father – including his new name.
Sarah Graiman in all intents and purposes was the main character in the pilot and it shows the start of the great bond that her and KITT developed over the series. Being much more than a mechanic, she is full trained field agent too.
Michael and Sarah work well together in the series. Their will they/won’t they relationship takes a few twists and turns in the series, especially during their missions together. It’s a different dynamic to that of the original series, with Michael not really having a romantic interest until Stevie enters in the picture.
Following on from such an ironic theme was always going to be difficult. How do you go about it? A full on remix like you find on Youtube? Or do you borrow part of the theme and do something different? Well that’s what they did here. The first part is exactly like the original, but it then changes into an Electronic/Rock mix which suits the new direction of the show. I would normally hate this kind of music, but for some reason I still really like it.
If there is one main difference between the 80’s and recent decades when your comparing style of TV making, is that shows now make much better use of storylines which leak into multiple episodes, which then get resolved either by a big episode, or by another story. The original Knight Rider never had this, so I'm glad Knight Rider 2008 series did make use of this. The mystery surrounding some aspects of the main characters works well and pays off in the end.
The Sense of Fun
It’s funny coming back to Knight Rider 2008 after watching the likes of Agent of SHIELD and Arrow. Both shows do have fun moments, but they generally quite serious action shows for 95% of the time. Knight Rider 2008 isn’t like that. There are a few darker episodes, but generally the show has the light tone the original Knight Rider was known for.
Here is Mike Traceur and KITT. They look cool hey?
Some bad CGI and green screen
And here is my biggest problem with the show. With the advancement of CGI, you would think that the show would look better for it? No actually. Now I can understand that TV budgets are way lower than movies, but still the effects should have been better. While they are some really cool moments, there quite a few shots that look really fake, especially when the camera switches to the proper car.
And don't get me started on the green screen, which is probably the worst I've seen in a TV show. Considering the original series had a very convincing green screen and rolling road, how can it be 30 years on and look worse?
Too many main characters
When developing the series, they uttered a new saying: one team can make a difference. This should of been a warning, as this isn't NCIS, it's Knight Rider. While the whole set up did work up to a point (the KITT cave is cool) there was one major problem: there was too many characters. You had Mike, Sarah, Charles, Agent Rivai, Billy, Zoe and Agent Torres, not to mention KITT.
They did solve this problem by then 13 episodes had aired, so the damage was done. The way the show ended is how it should of started. Hindsight hey?
The original knight rider was like most other 80s shows - they were all suitable for all age groups, no matter what episode you put on. While the majority of Knight Rider 2008 is fine, there was some moments which shouldn't of made it to the script, never mind the screen. Characters having sex? Making fun of Michael longs name? Just no.
Badly edited intro
While I liked the new theme, I didn't like the intro they used in the series. I thought the one they used in the pilot had some style about it, but the one the series uses is just a badly edited bunch of clips. They had some great camera shots of KITT in the desert and some great scenery, so why didn't they use it?
After rewatching this series, I quite enjoyed it. It’s a fun series with some good moments, which is also interesting to see the adventures of the Knight Industries Three Thousand and Michael Knight Jr.
In October 2016, it was announced that another Knight Rider series is production. Hopefully they look at what and didn't work on this series while developing it, as if this series isn't successful then I doubt we will see another knight rider series for a long time.