TV Review: Knight Rider (2008)Written by Jeffrey Williams
A decade from now, if you wanted an encyclopedic list of everything wrong with television in 2008, you'll need to look no further than NBC's back door pilot movie Knight Rider.
The original series aired on NBC from 1982 to 1986, and quite frankly, it hasn't aged well. Cheap production values, unsophisticated plots, and David Hasselhoff combined to create some first-rate cheese. Still, it was reasonably good-natured and just sophisticated enough to make every boy born between 1970 and 1974 drool over that wicked cool car and tune in every week.
Unfortunately, over the last twenty years, the bar has been raised for both television action and science fiction shows. And ironically enough, NBC/Universal's Battlestar Galactica is the current high water mark for science fiction (a series also reconstructed from the ashes of a twenty-year-old series created by Glen A. Larson). Even if you only count Knight Rider as half science fiction, it now is unquestionably the worst piece of sci-fi American television has seen in a long, long time, replacing the old title holder of last fall's Bionic Woman
It takes less than sixty seconds to parse the lack of subtlety, imagination, or creative inspiration behind Knight Rider 2008. An old man, living in a house chock full of the most sophisticated artificial intelligence algorithms in the world casually lets a menacing pair of strangers walk into his house after a sudden power outage. This isn't just a failure of logic — the suspension of disbelief required to make this work would require your central nervous system to shut down completely. But it gets worse when the camera work - all medium shots and unrevealing pans - suddenly goes hand-held and leers into the face of a bad guy, using a dutch angle framing that went out of fashion when the first Knight Rider aired.
In short order, we meet a random lesbian/FBI agent; a brilliant scientist with hypnotically shiny lip gloss; and a tousle-haired ex-Army Ranger/race car driver who seems to spend his time having threesomes. When the most well-rounded, believable, and engaging character is a solar-powered morphing Ford Mustang voiced by Val Kilmer, you're watching a show that is running on fumes.
What's worse is that the clichés haven't really started piling up yet. The brilliant scientist in the opening turns out to - gasp - be a body double! Which gets revealed in a monochromatic, jumpy-camera flashback! The ex-Army Ranger (vaguely played by Justin Bruening) has a shocking family secret! And he's a big-stakes poker player! And he just happens to have harbored romantic feelings for the scientist's ultra-foxy daughter (Deanna Russo)! Who was heartbroken he left her years ago! And the local sheriff is in league with the villains! Who are a near omnipotent, Halliburton-inspired "private security company"!
Most pilots are exposition heavy and lumbering, but this whole venture is senseless and wholly devoid of fun. Way back in 1982, the idea of a super-intelligent talking car was balanced right on the edge of 'way out fantasy' and 'airbrushed van painting cool'. Now cars are coming equipped with talking GPS systems, and the outer edge of cool is somewhere beyond Facebook. Good television can't be any more than a half-step behind the mainstream. Good science fiction needs to be a couple of steps ahead of the mainstream. None of the factory spec elements of Knight Rider have any current relevance — the Bluetooth headsets, hipster lesbianism, and cheesy poker games already feel like dated cultural relics. Completely missing is that sense of cool, that 'gee whiz, wouldn't it be awesome if…' sensibility that fueled your imagination when you were young.
In a show this dismal, you can't entirely blame the actors, but Bruening lacks the porn-star-lite charm that Hasselhoff exudes with ease. The other actors are so devoid of character that it's hard to tell if they're even performing. There isn't a compelling image or coherent thought to be found. Shadowy conspiracies that seem to have only four employees, body doubles, mommy issues, absentee fathers, and hack cliffhangers all feel like something a twelve-year-old J.J. Abrams would come up with. Cheap digital effects work compounds the problems, with green screen spill very visible in a number of shots. There isn't even the thrill of sweet cars driving fast — a feat even The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift managed to achieve in spades.
Not every show needs to be as heady and grim as Battlestar Galactica. Sometimes bad television can be at least enjoyable to watch, and everyone has an over-eager twelve-year-old tucked away somewhere deep inside who deserves to come out and play occasionally. Damn the nostalgia, though, because your inner twelve-year-old boy is going to have to hold on to the slim hope that an inevitable A-Team re-make is much better.
Knight Rider Review
February 18th, 2008 · 4 Comments
Over 25 years ago David Hasselhoff became the iconic television character, Michael Knight, as the lead in a new high tech crime fighter series called Knight Rider. Knight Rider was among some of the best television programing of our time and ran from 1982 till 1986. Since 1986 there has been many efforts to reincarnate the series is some form, whether it was on TV or the big screen. Finally in 1991 Knight Rider return with a less then entertaining sequel to the original series ultimately failing to please viewers. Since then there has also been a couple of different tryouts and takes on the legendary series, but all of them falling short, mainly because they were just simply terrible. Here in the beginning of 2008, another incarnation and direct sequel to the original series makes its way on to television, bearing the same name. Commissioned with a two hour backdoor pilot, Knight Rider returns with Mike Traceur (played by Justin Bruening) the son of Michael Knight. Also starring Deanna Russo as Sarah Graiman, Bruce Davison as Charles Graiman and Sydney Tamiia Poitier as Carrie Ruvai. Poitier is of course the daughter to the famous actor Sidney Poitier. Voicing the high tech Mustang Shelby GT500, Val Kilmer as KITT.
I’ll admit right now, my expectations for this were never that high but at the same time, I expected something fun and entertaining. With the expected cameo of David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight I became even more pumped up for this. Ever since Knight Rider was announced, I’ve been looking forward to this even though I was very skeptical. Contrary to popular opinion, I wasn’t skeptical about KITT being a Mustang… In fact, I thought KITT was bad ass however it still would have been great to see KITT as a Trans AM. With all of that out of the way, I was skeptical, didn’t expect much, but at the same time excited and hoped for a fun TV movie. Unfortunately at the end, I was very under whelmed.
Knight Rider is very boring:
Its not that Knight Rider is not a well made movie, in fact, its done very well in my opinion. Even so, the story was very boring. For the most part, there really isn’t any action to speak of and with a series like this, with its history, you would expect some kind of a action packed movie, a movie that is considered a pilot to a series. Most of the film is taken up by long drawn out dialog that really took up a tremendous amount of time. With almost every pilot or movie, it is expected that the first half hour is usually for set up. Knight Riders set up was an hour and a half long, with a very under whelming climax! To add to the lackluster film, some of the secondary characters really just didn’t need to be involved. Wayne Kasserman plays Dylan Fass, Mike Traceur’s roommate. This character did not need to be in this film. He would sporadically be shoved into a couple of scenes that should have been cut to begin with. Hopefully, if this series continues, they’ll forget about this character and we’ll never have to see him again. As much respect I have for Sidney Poitier, his daughter Sydney Tamiia Poitier was really annoying and not very good. I can understand the need for a secondary character like this, but she really didn’t need to be in almost the entire thing. When she was on screen all I did was role my eyes at her performance, because I really wasn’t impressed. Lets not forget to mention the Knight Rider theme. Now I never expected them to keep the exact version from the Original Series and I was impressed with how the theme starts off the way it use to, but they totally ruined it with the rest of the theme. This new Knight Rider theme is terrible and I really don’t like it. All of that said, there are probably more things I could complain about, but lets move on.
Despite all of the things that made me dislike Knight Rider there are however a few redeeming quality’s. KITT itself, was awesome in many ways. The choice to use a Mustang was, in my opinion, the best choice possible. The visual effects used for KITT in various scenes were done very well, and to my surprise, the CGI did not look like a bad SciFi channel movie. I honestly found it impressive and almost flawless. Most of the acting was acceptable: Justin Bruening and Deanna Russo seemed to fit with their characters, although they need to find their footing with those characters. Most of the set peice’s used where visually pleasing and Val Kilmer is a good fit for the voice of KITT, although it would have been amazing if William Daniels came back.
It turns out that the coolest thing was the return of Michael Knight. However, I did find that scene frustrating because I felt David Hasselhoff wasn’t in his best condition at the time, and interfered with his performance. Still, its Michael Knight, so who’s complaining.
Overall, I wasn’t impressed with Knight Rider. I expected more from it, but walked away under whelmed and unimpressed. If Knight Rider gets picked up for series, I’ll continue to watch with hopes that it will get better. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give Knight Rider a 4.5 out of 10.newfilmdimension.com