Where is the new Knight Rider series going wrong?

Justin Breuning with KITT

A few weeks ago, the all-new series of [[Knight Rider (TV Series)|Knight Rider]] ditched its original, secret service, anti-terror premise. The agency was shut down, krazy KARR made a brief reappearance, and Sarah became a billionairre thanks to her father’s timely death.

And so, the gang (Mike, Sarah, Billy and Zoe – I’m glad they kept Zoe!) formed their own secret organisation which was more in keeping with the original Foundation for Law And Government (FLAG) from the 1980’s series. Devon Miles would be proud.

For my part, I’m glad they ditched the secret agency thing, blew Michael’s memory loss storyline out of the water and returned to the ‘one man can make a difference’ premise of the original series. The military backdrop was a great re-introduction to the car and cast of the show, but terrorism quickly became tiresome. I just hope that Michael running around the dusty midwest helping damsels in distress doesn’t become equally as tiresome. Besides, in this era of cybercrime, how many rednecks and shady businessmen are out there making hardware store owners cower in fear?

So where is Knight Rider going wrong?

I did. Having grown up with the original series, there was a profound sense of right and wrong. You never doubted Michael’s judgement, and as a child you never really noticed that he was probably boning every waitress or swimsuit model he came within 5 feet of. But there was always kid appeal. So…

  1. I don’t see the appeal for kids in the new series – to date there’s been too much terrorism and Government agency stuff, which is really boring.
  2. And while I don’t mind the gorgeous Deanna Russo and Smith Cho gracing my screen, the interchanges between the members of the gang are way to adult for kids to watch. But wasn’t Knight Rider always meant to be a kid’s show? It doesn’t seem so today – it’s like the series ‘grew up’ with the original audience.
  3. The new KITT is great, but it’s far too clever. I think it can even smell farts. I wonder if it has an RSS reader though?
  4. I miss the camp-voiced KITT, the little woo-woo sound the car used to make when it was computing something. The new KITT is wonderful, as I said, but its voice is so dull. Although I’m wondering if its newfound survival instinct is an indication of a Johnny 5 style self-awareness?
  5. The static base of the SSC is a bit stupid – I preferred it when you had the big Knight Industries truck meeting Michael anywhere he happened to be, with occassional air assistance. I had hoped they’d ditch that location whenever they shut down the agency.
  6. With the exception of Michael, everybody on the team is master of several disciplines. Sarah, for instance, is a brilliant scientist, chief engineer for KITT and can handle a gun when the situation requires it. She also looks amazing in a bikini. Likewise Billy and Zoe, computer whizzkids, et the occassion chance to play at being spies.

In fairness, getting rid of the CIA staff (way to kill off Alex Torres, by the way) was a great step towards improving the series. My friend and I sat through each episode reasoning that one of them was a double-agent of some kind. Torres was our chief suspect.

Where’s it going right?

I know the original Michael Knight was largely a promiscuous hero, but I like the will-they, won’t-they releationship between new Mike and Sarah Graiman. There’s actually a reasonably believable chemistry between the two characters. So while I have a minor issue with the sexed-up content, I’ve got no quibble with the relationship between those two. Although there’s a cuter tension between Billy and Zoe if you ask me.

KITT has some great features, but not enough of them are physical. I love the fact that it can morph into different shapes. Attack mode is great, but we’re convinced the only difference between regular attack mode and ‘stealth’ attack mode is that in stealth mode, KITT turns off the lights. Seriously. I think a few more physical gizmos would be appreciated.

Finally…

The thing that keeps coming into my mind when writing this is that Knight Rider isn’t suppose to be a terribly deep television series. It’s an action adventure kind of thing where the baddies are tucked up in the local sheriff’s prison cell within one or two episodes. For the critics, I think the message is not to over-think it.

For the programme makers – throw the kids a little more action. The episode where Billy had to go and retrieve part of KITT’s memory from a kid’s XBox and ended up playing against him for most of the day was priceless. Especially when the kid muttered ‘douche’ under his breath!

There’s a good foundation with Knight Rider to build upon. Some more back story on the main characters would be nice, and more of a role for Paul Campbell and Smith Cho. They’re quite cool characters, and I’d like to see more of them. Maybe give them an episode where they’re in the driving seat, so to speak? I’ll tell you what though, just don’t cancel this series too hastily – because I for one love it.

Oh yeah, one more thing – can we occassionally have a drunk dude or small-time conman get confused by KITT talking to him every now and again. I miss how KITT used to mess with people’s heads when he was in a car park…

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