'Knight' rides again
Knight Rider is back – a quarter of a century after the original series. There's a new car, a new driver, and some smooth CGI to make it all look real. It most certainly is bigger, but is it better?
The pilot aired in February as a TV movie and is more than likely to be spawned into a new series. The story takes place 25 years after the original KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand) – the thinking, talking super car that could throw the occasional one liner – is dismantled and its charismatic driver Michael Knight (David Hesselhoff) is forced to go into hiding.
In the new movie, Charles Graiman, one of the surviving members of the Knight Foundation for Law and Government (FLAG) founded by Wilton Knight many years ago, it is revealed, designed the original KITT. The opening scenes of the movie in Graiman's house tell us of the fate that befell the old car.
The old 'KNIGHT' license plate and the steering wheel can clearly be seen lying around Graiman's lab along with several shiny black metal plates – heartbreaking, to say the least (that is, if you're a hardcore fan of the original series as I am). Note: the writer belongs to a generation of kids that grew up watching Knight Rider and were highly fascinated by all its antics – Turbo Boost, Super Pursuit Mode and what not.
Anyway, Graiman, in his old age, designed a new car – a car supposedly far superior to the original KITT. The new car, referred to as KITT (Knight Industries Three Thousand as opposed to Two Thousand), is a super high-tech muscle car that uses nanotechnology and couldn't be more different from its old counterpart.
It has a solar hybrid engine, night vision, a nanotech enhanced metallic paint which can be used to camouflage the car and self regeneration and damage repair capabilities, among others. However, the new version is a lot more believable. Advanced as it is, it comes with its limitations. For instance, it is only bulletproof as long as the AI (Artificial Intelligence) is active. Shut down the computer and it's as vulnerable as your average Nissan Sunny.
And, no, it can't do the Turbo Boost; at least not in the pilot episode anyway. Disappointing, yes, but really, it's a serious stretch of the imagination to think that a 550 horsepower Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang can actually jump! But don't be surprised if the writers work their way around it in the future – this is how American television works.
Getting back to the story, we're told that Graiman had also designed a system called Prometheus which controls the entire US defence network. Naturally, the bad guys are after it and would stick at nothing to get its access codes from the old genius. So they turn to his beautiful daughter Sarah, the damsel in distress.
In true Knight Rider fashion, KITT comes to the rescue and manages to evade the baddies in a thrilling high-speed chase across states with Sarah screaming her head off in the passenger seat. This scene is used by the producers to highlight many of the new car's capabilities, including its ability to understand human emotion. Yes, the car has a sensitive side (KITT is voiced by former Batman Val Kilmer).
Anyway, it's now time to find and rescue Dad. Enter Mike Traceur: The "knight" in shining armour (pun intended – you'll see what I mean in a bit.
But please do not read from this point on if you do not wish to know any further plot details). To make a long story short, Sarah and KITT enlist the help of a reluctant Mike Traceur, an ex army ranger, and together they manage to rescue Graiman from the bad guys (mercenaries hired by an unnamed villain).
It is then that the shocking revelation comes. Mike Traceur is the estranged son of…drumroll…Michael Knight, the lone crusader himself.
In the last few minutes of the movie David Hasselhoff makes his highly anticipated reentry into the Knight Rider franchise, albeit for a few seconds.
Traceur had just been requested by Graiman to continue to serve FLAG as the new driver of KITT and he had turned down the offer saying, "I do not believe in the same things you do."
However, his father tells him that long ago, Wilton Knight in his deathbed told Michael Knight that one man can make a difference. This seems to convince junior.
And then he walks off, responding to his son's final question of whether they'd meet again with a "I hope so." Great news for us fans of the old series.
Michael Knight is here to stay…yay! Too bad KITT (the old one) couldn't be back…but who knows, maybe they'll find a way to bring it back from AI death… it's an American TV series, after all.