Knight Rider: Season One (1982) – DVD Review

Knight Rider: Season One DVD cover art

Film:
DVD:

Created by: Glen A. Larson
Starring: David Hasselhoff, Edward Mulhare, William Daniels, Patricia McPherson

Features:

  • All twenty-two first season episodes
  • Running audio commentary by actor Hasselhoff and creator Larson on the pilot episode
  • TV movie: Knight Rider 2000
  • Stunts featurette
  • Music featurette
  • Stills gallery
  • Blueprints gallery
  • Tour of KITT’s dashboard

Released by: Universal
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Fans should own

Michael Long is a detective who gets shot point blank in the face while in the line of duty. He’s taken in by Wilton Knight (Richard Basehart) and his foundation, who save Michael’s life and give him a new face and identity. Now as Michael Knight (Hasselhoff), he takes up the cause of the elder Knight: to show that one man can make a difference in the world. To do this, the Foundation’s now head burrito, Devon (Mulhare), introduces Michael to KITT (voiced by Daniels), a souped-to-the-gills sportscar that can do pretty much everything plus a bag of chips. Together, they take off across country, writing wrongs and meting out justice.

You know…call me crazy, but watching this show again–it’s not half-bad for what it is. Larson set out to make a show that was campy and fun, grounded in reality enough to keep you from losing your mind watching it, but action-packed enough to please. And he succeeded. He tapped into something as well, for having a car is pretty damn all-American, and having a car that can be your best buddy both literally and figuratively, well, then you’ve got something most guys can relate to. As opposed to, say, My Mother the Car, which took this concept in a completely detrimental direction. As long as you understand the context of the show, namely that it’s early 80s TV, when cheese was king, then you’re fine.

The acting is pretty good, all things considered. Hasselhoff, though much maligned as an actor (and even moreso as a singer), has enough chops to be a believable action star, at least in this setting. Mulhare serves as a nice combination between M and Q for Michael while Daniels is an excellent half of what Larson refers to as a comedy team. It takes a certain amount of believability to deal with the world they’ve put together, but the cast here manages to pull that off. It’s fun stuff, and it’s treated as such.

KITT interior from Knight Rider

This boxed set will be very pleasing to fans. First up, you’ve got the two-hour pilot with commentary by Hasselhoff and Larson. It’s not a great commentary, but it works well enough: the two men spend as much time giving each other grief (Larson at Hasselhoff mostly) as they do discussing the show, but at least that’s amusing to listen to. When they do actually talk about what’s unfolding on screen, it’s quality stuff…in between the two of them correcting each other until they can reach a conclusion. Oh, and one last comment on the shows themselves…a good rule of thumb is to not have any chapter stop be over ten minutes. The pilot TV movie has only four, so if you have to stop and come back you’re doing a lot of rewinding and fast forwarding to get back to where you once belonged.

There are three featurettes included. “Knight Moves” discusses the stunts for the show, how Hasselhoff wanted to do as many as possible (and became a pretty good driver), how they only had two cars to start off with, and more. Also, a warning for kids to not become a stuntman/car jumper, lest you wind up with titanium in your spine. Eek. And if you ever wondering how in the hell they backed KITT out of the semi while rolling, here you go. The music featurette deals with Stu Phillips, 70s and 80s TV composer extraordinaire, and Larson’s go-to guy for music. He talks about the origins of the very recognizable theme, how he incorporated it throughout the show in different forms, and also how it’s had a resurgence in popularity thanks to sampling. The final featurette is just a retrospective talking with Hasselhoff and Larson and others, on putting the show together and what it meant for them. There’s some overlap with the commentary but not enough to make it annoying.

David Hasselhoff from Knight Rider: Season One

The stills gallery is a series of behind the scenes shots set to music that play out on their own. The blueprint gallery is a series of set blueprints from various episodes, including the interior setup of the Knight Foundation’s semi. You also have a tour of all of the various buttons and readouts on KITT’s dash. This is a nifty addition to the set, but it’s annoying to try and use the arrow keys on your remote to make sure you’ve hit everything there is to hit on each screen. It would have been nice to have it advance to the next one after each popup, or at least let you advance through them with the right key.

The final bit is the TV movie from 1991, Knight Rider 2000, which is actually pretty freaking hilarious. The concept is that Michael has retired about ten years back, and it’s the year 2000. Crime has gotten worse because criminals are being cryogenically suspended (to maintain freshness, I guess) and the cops don’t have real guns anymore, they have “ultrasound” pistols that only stun. The Knight Foundation is trying to get in on the freelance law enforcement game, and Devon (still Mulhare) is struggling with producing a new version of KITT in time to make a deadline. He brings back in Michael, who wants to see KITT. However, new Knight Foundation partner Maddock (Carmen Argenziano) sold KITT for parts. Michael is able to put together most of KITT’s original AI, but a memory chip is missing…which winds up in the head of cop Shawn McCormick (Susan Norman). McCormick conveniently shows up at the Knight Foundation looking for a job and becomes a partner to the restored KITT and Michael.

KITT from Knight Rider 2000

And it goes on from there. And gets worse, thanks to a really godawful script. It’s never well established why the Foundation really needs this freelance contract so desperately, seeing as how Devon makes it clear they still get grants and such. The character of McCormick is extremely erratic, going from sweet and giggly to stern and pedantic to okay to be around. I never really understood why having KITT’s memory chip did such things to the woman’s personality and if it was KITT’s memory, why didn’t she come to the Knight Foundation to find out why she kept having waking dreams about Hasselhoff driving her? And why in God’s name did they bring in Jimmy Doohan to do a cameo as himself? And Jesus, that red sportscar that is the new KITT…simply fugly.

The movie is obviously a backdoor pilot for a new series, as it sets itself up nicely to continue…but that’s about all it does nicely. It loses sight of the appropriate level of camp, and goes into futuristic camp–gleefully. Every time you pass a television set, it’s the news, giving you cute little bits about the price drops in oil, President Quayle and so forth and so on. It’s the epitome of “After this airs, hardly anyone in the real future will ever see this again, so we don’t need to put too much thought into it.” Talk about lack of foresight. Anyway, it’s pretty much here for the sake of posterity. And I’m sure someone could create a drinking game out of it.

The boxed set is surprisingly stacked for an 80s show, and will appeal to fans. Personally, I’m waiting to see if they include Knight Rider 2010 in the next set. The boxed set isn’t going to win any new converts, I think, but is perfect to get snapped up by nostalgia freaks for the 80s.

By | 2017-09-25T00:00:18+00:00 August 3rd, 2004|Reviews, TV|0 Comments

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