If you grew up in the 80’s the song is already stuck in your head. You can hear the narrator tell us about Michael Knight, the man who doesn’t exist who stands up for the powerless and fights against those who think they are above the law. Oh yea, this was THE bad ass show of the 1980’s. Let us reminisce, shall we?
I heard that Glen Larson, the show’s creator, invented the show because he wanted to do “Lone Ranger with a car.” Looking back, that makes sense, doesn’t it? Michael Knight gets a little guidance by Devon on where the bad guys are but from there it’s just Knight and his trusty car KITT and that’s it. Just like a John Wayne movie, all he needs is his steed, a bad guy and a damsel in distress.
But perhaps I am getting too far ahead of myself, reminiscing freely about a show before explaining exactly what this show is. Because you have to remember, we are now four decades removed from the 80’s, ouch! That stings. OK, so technically the show is only 30 years old, but still, 30 years since the early 80’s? Time flies kids, make a mental note of that. So here is a history lesson for you kids who missed the crappy Knight Rider remake in 2008. Knight Rider was a TV show starring David Hasselhoff who you might know from Baywatch but probably mostly know from your best friends t-shirt that you pretend to laugh at even though you don’t really get it. Anyways, Michael Knight was this charming guy who could also kick ass.
Michael Knight was actually Michael Long, a former Green Beret who found himself doing special assignments for LAPD after the Vietnam War. In the pilot episode, Knight…er…Long is shot in the head on assignment by some bad guys and is pronounced dead. He did not die though, and was sent to a special private agency run by billionaire Wilton Knight. Knight saves Michael’s life and has to perform major reconstructive face surgery that turns conveniently turns him into a sexy guy (the chest hair is the same). So with “Michael Long” dead, Michael takes the new name “Knight” and agrees to be this crime fighter, standing up for people whom the law can’t help. After Wilton is murdered, his good friend Devon takes over running the operation and we get the REAL star of the show, the Knight Industries Two-Thousand, or KITT. KITT is a future prototype car with all of the James Bod luxuries – guns, bullet proofing and best yet, an AI voiced by the great Mr. Feeny…er…William Daniels. Knight can even talk to his car with his watch and have KITT come and bail him out of all sorts of problems.
Watching Knight Rider back as a kid in the 80’s and again today, I will tell you I love the show just as much, but for very different reasons. Back in the day, this show was bad-ass! The nice car, the cool stunts and effects and Michael Knight in his black jacket, it didn’t get much cooler than that! Today? Not so much. Today the show, like fashion, is clearly marked by its era. You don’t watch it for the cool-factor, you watch it for the cheese. And the nostalgia. Knight Rider is absolutely ridiculous. I was watching one episode where KITT somehow got onto a polo field during a competition, located a shooter in crowd without any real explanation and then went on a pursuit that was just as ridiculous. First of all the tricked out Pontiac Trans Am was making street skidding noise as it turned on the dirt lot, then it jumped over the hurdles without having anything to propel it into the air, then Michael sticks his head out of the roof (which we don’t know how it opened) and proceeded to pull out a lasso to lasso the bad guy. A lasso?! Where the hell did he get a lasso?!! No…not a rope that he happened to have in the back seat, a ready-to-go lasso!
And that is exactly why you SHOULD watch this show. If that is not good entertainment, I don’t know what else to tell you. I’m having a great time watching these shows again. It also makes me wonder about TV today. Clearly I was so memorized by this show I was willing to let a lot slide, A LOT. So it begs the question, what are we letting slide today? Has TV really seen the error of it’s way, or are they just staying a half step ahead of the intelligence of it’s audience and in 30 years we will look back and feel sheepish about what we let slide. For the record, I see both. Some shows, like Arrested Development will be a bright light for us to point at years down the line. I won’t sit here and risk pointing out what I think the most embarrassing shows will be in 30 years, but I think a show about a couple of guys sharing an apartment who tell recycled penis jokes every week for ten plus years might be a safe bet.
And finally, for those of us enjoying this resurgence of the Knight, you might be interested to know there has been a remake in the work for years and it now has a couple of stars attached, Chris Pratt and Danny McBride. Yep. Right now we are all in love with Chris Pratt so it sounds exciting, but then we remember the Dukes of Hazzard movie and we wonder how the hell a story about The Lone Ranger and his car turns into a buddy cop movie like 21 Jump Street or Starsky and Hutch. I recognize I am probably the only guy out there wanting this, but I would much rather see a movie about the 62 year old former bad ass still cursing around in his 1982 Trans Am, looking for one last crime to stop.
Thank you for reminiscing along with me on this great journey of the Knight Rider. Leave a comment with your favorite memories or thoughts on the show. And with that I leave you with the great intro:
For the entire month of August we at the 12a Podcast are teaming up to bring you our reviews great 80’s shows that you can stream online from your favorite subscription service.