Sunday, September 28, 2008

DIGG THIS --> Knight Rider: A Mixed Bag

NBC is banking on another series remake again. After it flaunted The Bionic Woman, and was just starting to gain some momentum, NBC pulled the plug. Just a victim of the WGA strike, I think. Now they've brought back Knight Rider, bigger and sexier than before. Ok, I like a bit of nostalgia once in awhile, I'm a huge fan of the original series. We got a big mouthful of Knight Rider last Spring with a pilot made-for-television movie. So, we had a good idea of what to expect. I don't think you need to be from my generation (old enough to remember the original series in prime time) to appreciate the new series. The creators built the foundation with the movie, and now we have a NEW crime fighting team with an invincible car. Well, that's the theory at least.

Most of the similarities end there. After the first two episodes, I'm thinking this new series leans towards the lame side. I mean, they have this car that should be invincible, at least the old KITT was close. 25 years later, a vastly more sophisticated and technologically advanced KITT is far from infallible. For instance, in last nights episode, KITT was nearly beaten in a street race. WHAT??? OK, the guy had NOX, but that whole scene is wrong. The original KITT could reach speeds well above 200MPH in super pursuit mode. And to top it off KITT had a melt down because it's not capable of doing a "transformation" during a turbo boost. Yeah, that's my tax dollars at work, jokingly of course. It sounds typical, though, for something to cost so much and have a such a weakness.

Let's transplant that flaw to another venue. During the pilot of Star Trek: The Next Generation, when they first encountered Q. When the Captain ordered the ship to be "seperated" at maximum warp, Data warned that maneuver had never been tried at such velocities and is not recommended. So the Captain ordered it so, and the ship craps out, dead in space, has to be towed back to space dock. ST:TNG would have been on less episodes that the Bionic Woman.

In the original series, KITT was always rescuing Michael. Seemed every week a new gadget was being showcased. Maybe because it was 1982, and the whole idea was far off the reality scale. It was all "jee-wiz, wow, bang, hey that's kool". In 2008, though, the technology is not so impressive. The stories seem to focus more on the main characters, their histories, their secrets, and their motives. This will be the shows undoing. What did we ever know of the original Michael Knight? Devon Miles? or FLAG? The good guys and the bad guys were clearly marked, and they didn't switch sides.

Clearly, this is one of televisions fatal flaws, certainly so for science fiction. The writers like to twist things up every which way, they mistakenly believe this will heighten the intrigue and cause viewers to tune in. In reality, it confuses and alienates them, and they do not tune back in.

So, here's my advice to the shows writers and producers. Knight Rider is all about the car. It's not about Michael, his partner girlfriend, or any of those other groupies in the bat-cave. It's not about Michael's "lost" memory, or the efforts to keep things from him. Knight Rider is ALL about the car, period. Your show will live allot longer if you focus on that. The writers and producers need to go back and watch to original series pilot, remember where the story came from.

Knight Rider has a whole new crew, but really only one person that's been around a while, Bruce Davison. Rumor also has it that Val Kilmer is the voice of KITT, but neither he (nor the identity of the voice) is listed anywhere on the official Knight Rider site.

Knight Rider airs on NBC on Wednesday nights at 8PM.

John Crawford

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