I had prepared myself to be let down when I saw NBC's two-hour movie/pilot for Knight Rider. However, I must say that producers Dave Bartis (The O.C.) and Doug Liman (Bourne Identity) did a fair job of bringing a second-generation KITT and story into the 21st century.
***The following might contain spoilers, but I've done my best to keep them to a minimum****
I was a big fan of the original '80s series, Knight Rider. Was it because I was 10 when the show first aired or that we just had lower – let's make that different – expectations from our television shows 25 years ago?
Needless to say I haven't seen an episode of Knight Rider is 20+ years and can just barely remember the premise of the show. Still nobody wants memories of their favorite childhood shows to be blown to bits with a bad remake.
But NBC's two-hour movie that doubles as a pilot should the network decide to go forth with a new Knight Rider series is more of a sequel than a remake.
The creator of KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand), the car from the '80s series, Charles Graiman (Bruce Davison) has continued his work as a cutting edge genius developer in solitude pushing away his wife and his daughter, Sarah (Deanna Russo). His work includes a new improved KITT (Knight Industries Three Thousand) and a weapons program called Prometheus for the Pentagon.
This next generation KITT makes his predecessor look like a cheesy '80s special effect. The new improved KITT doesn't just talk; he's a Ford Mustang connected to Internet, satellite and GPS. Nano technology still makes the car indestructible, but now KITT can morph his appearance as well.
But the car isn't the only one that got a generational upgrade. Michael Tracer (Justin Bruening) is show in bed with two women and FBI agent Carrie Rivai (Sydney Tamiia Poitier, daughter of Sydney Poitier) is a lesbian – two things you'd never seen in the '80s version.
For the premise of the movie, some apparently well funded thugs have broken into Charles's secluded home in an effort to steal Prometheus. They manage to steal the hard drives with the intel, but need someone to unlock the information. Only three hold the key to unlocking these files – Charles, Sarah who is away at Stafford working on her doctorate and KITT.
Detecting a threat on the Graiman house, KITT activates and follows a pre-programmed mission to ensure Sarah's safety and procure the help of bitter ex-Ranger Michael Tracer. Tracer, who's been wasting his life – and money – racing cars and chasing women in Vegas, was once a neighbor and love interest of Sarah.
The trio eventually crosses paths with Agent Rivai, who seems to have a past friendship with Charles, and Michael's mother, Jennifer (Susan Gibney) on their quest to save Prometheus.
Given the history of Knight Rider and rumors that this movie might be turned into a series, the ending is a bit predictable, but nonetheless well told. David Hasselhoff's cameo as Michael Knight was well-played if expected. My only complaint is that we didn't find out what he's been doing for the last 25 years.
As far as TV movies go, I ranked Knight Rider up there as a decent effort. And maybe this next statement is a consequence of quality show withdrawal as a result of the writers strike and the continual influx of reality and game shows, but I would be willing to tune into a revived Knight Rider series.
If you didn't catch the show, NBC is re-airing it Saturday night at 9 p.m.