Monday, June 23, 2008

Backblog: February 22nd, 2008. Knight Rider 3000

Spoilers ahead:

Did anyone else watch the recent TV movie of the new Knight Rider?

I'm not sure what I was expecting. Well... that's not exactly true; I was expecting it to be hilariously terrible in terms of dialogue and commercialism - and I wasn't disappointed for the most part - I just wasn't expecting it to be so special-effects oriented as to be completely boring.

Allow me to explain:

There is scene where the car (KITT) is driving down a desert highway with the woman it is trying to protect, and it starts out in a helicopter long shot view and zooms in / pans down to the side of the car, then the camera moves into the car without cutting. Nothing happens. It was graphically impressive for a television movie, perhaps a little lacking for a summer blockbuster movie, but completely pointless. This sums up the entire show: All style, no substance.

You might think that it's unfair to compare this production to the cheesy 1980s show, but it isn't a reboot - it's a continuation and therefore subject to comparison.

The Knight Industries Three Thousand isn't nearly as "space-age" cool as its '80s counterpart (The Knight Industries Two Thousand), and Michael Traceur, the square-jawed boyish hero with that three-hundred dollar bed-head (played by Justin Bruening) just doesn't seem as bad-ass as Michael Knight... Okay, I couldn't type that last statement with a straight face either. Calling David Hasslehoff "bad-ass" is like calling Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup "hot wings," but he still seemed more mature and threatening than the current underwear model.

I have issues with the car. Every fan knows that KITT is supposed to look and sound futuristic. The 1981 Pontiac Trans Am was a very futuristic looking American-made car in 1981, and the modifications that the production crew made to it were incredibly futuristic at the time. It gave one a sense of progress; that cool new things were coming on the horizon. The new KITT is a freakin' Ford Mustang. Don't get me wrong, I like Ford Mustangs, but the 1981 Trans Am was a progression of the 1970's Firebird, while the new Ford Mustangs are a throwback "retro-car," meaning that they are designed to look more like the older models (from the sixties), and thus less "futuristic cool" and more "classic muscle car cool." That just doesn't seem to fit with the whole Knight Rider aesthetic (though one look at 1991's pathetic "Knight Rider 2000" will probably show why they decided to go the retro route, but even that forgotten travesty is now nearly twenty years old). The production car itself seems to be a mishmash of styles, like things were just "thrown on" to make it seem cool.

The show strives for a degree of realism to the point that the new KITT also seems to be weaker than its '80s counterpart. The original KITT had a bulletproof shell and was nearly impossible to damage with anything less than a missile. The new KITT has nanotech robots that repair it almost instantly, which looks cool, but really doesn't seem as formidable (what if a bullet gets through the nanotech? I'd rather have the reinforced shell, thank you). KI2000 had hokey devices that allowed it to disable locks and open doors from great distances, as well as show remote things on its viewscreen when no camera was present. KI3000 has access to the internet, but who cares when the editing/storytelling in the original show is so bad that it seemed like KI2000 was magic? Also, if you watched the show did you notice that the KI3000 never once used "Turbo Boost?" What's up with that? A two hour episode of Knight Rider and there wasn't even one car jump. Who knows? Maybe if the show is picked up for production they'll explore this, or maybe today's kids just won't care.

The David Hasslehoff cameo was dumb. I could use bigger words to describe the situation, but as "dumb" is apropos I am going to use it. It was pointless other than to turn the reins over to the new kid and give legitimacy to his character. He says, "One man can make a difference," then follows it up with "I was that man." Well, if he's that man, what the hell has he been doing for the last twenty-five years? Why isn't he involved? What's next, "Mike, I am your father?" Oh, wait, that actually happened in the course of their conversation, officially making it the worst Glen Larson production ever (and this is the guy who gave us Night Man).

I was disappointed, sure, but on reflection I came to only one conclusion:

The entire show, and I mean the entire show could have been saved if, after delivering his lines the Hoff would have driven away in busted up, smoking, rusty black 1981 Trans Am with the muffler hanging off.
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