Knight Rider Series Premiere Review

Published 7 years ago by , Updated September 22nd, 2008 at 11:59 pm,

knight rider review Knight Rider Series Premiere Review

Well… I just watched the online series/season premiere of NBC’s reboot of Knight Rider. I know the term “reboot” has been overused of late, but in this case it truly applies. Exactly 7 months ago to the day, NBC unveiled a pilot/TV movie of a new version of the well-known Knight Rider TV series from the 1980s. While I thought it was extremely cornball, it had enough nods to the original series to soften me up a little bit and not totally rip it.


Apparently many people agreed that it was pretty lame, because although NBC decided to move forward with it as an ongoing TV series, they also decided to scrap the pilot and start from scratch with a completely new story and concept.

So, we here at Screen Rant figured there might be a glimmer of hope for the new series. However earlier today I posted up a short preview for the new show and it looked bad.

OK, expectations lowered.

Enough prevaricating – what’s the verdict?

Well, it IS better than the two hour movie, but it’s still not very good.

deanna russo Knight Rider Series Premiere ReviewThe episode started out portraying our hero Mike Traceur (Justin Bruening) as a slick, James Bond-type character in a tux at a fancy shindig. He’s there with Sarah (Deanna Russo) daughter of Charles Graiman (Bruce Davison), the genius behind uber-car K.I.T.T.. She is captured and Mike goes after her with the help of K.I.T.T. (apparently still voiced by Val Kilmer).

Things go wrong and soon the gang is trying to outrun a heat-seeking missile. They are unable to do so, despite the fact that I would think a couple of hard turns down a street or an alley would take care of it. Anyway, there’s some sort of “molecular chemically enhanced” napalm that K.I.T.T. is unable to put out.

smith cho Knight Rider Series Premiere ReviewBack at headquarters, Charles exhorts the team to come up with a solution before his daughter and Mike are cooked alive. This is where the show drops quite a few IQ points with its cast of characters. We have a brilliant and under-appreciated tech geek (played by Bill Morgan), and and hottie Smith Cho (played by Zoe Chae, try to keep up folks) the MOST annoying “genius” I’ve seen as a character on a TV show.

She utters idiotic things like “cool!” and “awesome!” as a reaction to life threatening situations – specifically while Mike and Sarah are near death with no solution in site. Really, REALLY annoying and stupid.

justtin bruening Knight Rider Series Premiere ReviewIt turns out that in this version of the show, Mike has some partial memory loss and was a Black Ops guy over in Iraq. In the show’s favor, at least they have him playing more of a serious character in line with his background than the goof-off he was in the pilot. He doesn’t know why, but some of his former associates are out to get him.

The main plot, getting hold of a highly classified “package” almost seems like an afterthought. And the package turns out to be a person – a guy who has written the ultimate cypher and has hidden the code to break it… in his DNA. I agreed with Mike Traceur who pointed out “that’s really stupid.”

In this version of the show, the car truly is a “Transformer,” able to not only morph into a beefier version of itself with more body ground effect panels and a pop-up air intake, but it can even turn into a pickup truck.

Neat trick, that.

At least they did bring back “Turbo-boost” although it’s so extreme as to border on ridiculous – acting almost as a VTOL (Vertical Take-Off & Landing).

Following my review of last year’s Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles pilot, I’m a little gunshy about dismissing a series based on the pilot alone. If they got rid of the stupidity factor of the duo back at headquarters, knuckled down and tried to take this seriously, it might have the potential to be at least watchable.

But as long as they’re schizophrenic about it – trying to combine stupid goofy “laughs” with a character story (Mike’s) which is obviously meant to be very serious, this show will be in trouble.

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  1. Lol Vic,,,

    This sounds like a Orci/Kurtsman production….

    Transforming Cars,,, wow they really desperate.

    Even Val Kilmer’s phoning it in. Lol
    I give this show half a season before its license is suspended.

  2. Sounds like Automan was much better, and it only survived 12 episodes or something.

    Perhaps Knight Rider might get canceled at mid-season. It sounds really stupid.

  3. Ugh, I’ll pass on this awful attempt. It belongs in the same recycle bin as Knight Rider 2000.

    They could do this right, but it’s all wrong!

  4. I concluded that this is much worse than you make it out to be. The “attack mode/turbo-boost scene” was flat out ridiculous with utterly lame effects. While the “missile scene” was worse on a whole new level.

    K.I.T.T. is burning and Mike and Sarah have an air supply that is sealed to be separate from the outside. Evidenced by the fact that they state the oxygen supply is running low and the supply obviously isn’t coming from outside. The fire engulfing the car is making quick work of every bit of air that gets close. Anyway, makes sense, good idea to have a sealed air supply. Fast forward to the vacuum chamber. Another good idea; fire can’t burn without oxygen. Wait though, once the air is sucked from the chamber Mike and Sarah will run out of air too (they said it, not me)? What happened to their air supply? Also, I thought fire couldn’t burn without air. Is K.I.T.T. a hybrid? He doesn’t seem to have any trouble laying down rubber without the air.

    Can’t a show that is supposed to be all sorts of high tech not have very rudimentary holes?

    I could go on an on about everything that is wrong with this show, but instead I’ll just end on what I did like about it.

    I thought it was pretty cool how the cobra emblem on the Mustang changed when they went to attack mode K.I.T.T.

  5. @Psyko

    Yeah, don’t ask me why, but for some reason I’m more “gentle” with some shows than I am with others. I think it’s because my expectations are far lower for shows like Knight Rider. I expect them to be “cheesy” so I feel like I can’t complain too much when they turn out that way. :-P

    But yeah, I agree with everything you said.


  6. I hope you don’t take my previous comment as negative criticism of your work. While criticism is good, if it’s listened to (hint hint NBC…), my statement simply wasn’t meant as such. Actually, I read a lot of reviews (bored at work) and found yours to be the absolute best and most accurate. My assumption was that you couldn’t name off everything without putting a novel together. The reality of your graciousness makes sense too though, as it is something I’m prone to doing. Unfortunately I didn’t know to come into this one with such low of expectations.

    Keep up the good work.

    By the way, thanks for mentioning the VTOL thing. I almost had to look away for that one.

    (I’m bookmarking this site for future review needs. :))

  7. @Psyko

    No offense taken whatsoever, bud. :-)

    And thanks for the props… welcome to the site!


  8. Vic, you and Psyko need to get a room! :-)

    I forgot that this was coming on; I meant to tune in. Looks like I didn’t miss much. Thanks for the review, Vic.

  9. LOL, yeah… civility online is so rare it seems weird when you see it. :-P


  10. Okay obviously you had a preconcieved notion going into to this because the review is extremely biased. Also it is the same concept and a continuation of the pilot movie (you didn’t pay close enough attention to the story) Months have passed since the Movie and the new “FLAG” has been up and running since then. (Remember we saw Mike go and start a mission at the end of the movie you have to keep track of the little details)

    Sure some of the things seem a little silly in the show, like the Mike Tracuer tracking missles (It wasn’t a heat seeking missle seeing as KITT states he had lowered his heat profile and the missle was somehow homing in on Mike himself… (Don’t ask me It’s KNIGHT RIDER)

    As with the Turbo Boost well it was more a trajectory guide like seen in season two of the original. They did make mention in the original Pilot movie that Mike did disappear when he was in Iraq when Sarah was being saved by Kitt they did mention that Mike had stopped calling her… This is just an expanding on that story idea from the movie.

    All in all this WAS an Episode of KNIGHT RIDER. The original show was a cheesy unbelievable romp centering around a man who hit on anything in a skirt and used his super car to save the day. What we are getting now is the same thing because he is Michael Knight’s son and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

    The rose colored glasses need to come of and people need to go back and look at the original. This show isn’t trying to be anything more than that, but is also looking for it’s own identity. He it could be worse. It could be Team Knight Rider…. NOW there was bad television.

    Just coming from a fan who remembers Knight Rider correctly…..

    Oh and Bulky Transformations… can anyone say SUPER PURSUIT MODE?

  11. Val Kilmer voice-work was probably the only good thing on the show thus far.

  12. @Merrill

    The review is biased? Dude, you’re LUCKY it’s biased – if it was a completely objective review rating this show on an even playing field with others like Fringe, Lost, House, etc. I would have reamed it.

    Part of the reason I didn’t rip this a new one is because I am aware of the source material, bud. I even mentioned that in my review of the 2 hour movie 7 months ago.

    As to the Turbo Boost, right at the start of the episode K.I.T.T. went airborne FROM A STANDSTILL when surrounded by the bad guys. That’s how it escaped – by “leaping” over them.


  13. Which they did several times in season 2 of the original it’s called “Trajectory guide”

  14. Besides Lost, Fringe, House, ect are all suspense Dramas, It would be like comparing Power Rangers with All My Children, although they are both shows you’d see on in the morning or afternoon ones for kids and ones a soap opera. Lost, House, Fringe are all serious dramas which deal with interweaving complex storylines. Knight Rider has always been about fun, formulaic plotlines and bad-guy of the week senarios. They just aren’t in the same class, but you show with that statement that you’re doing the show a favor by not lumping it in with them. You be very ignorant to lump it in with them because it is NOT the same type of show as they are. Which is what you’re failing to get is that Knight Rider IS Knight Rider. It was Cheesy 80′s fun brought to us by the man who did it better than no one else, Glen Larson. It was never and has never been deep thought provoking television, yet that’s what old fans seem to have been expecting. Knight Rider was cheese. This Knight Rider IS Cheese. I think the producers nailed the spirit of the show, and that spirit of the show is what most of the old fans have forgotten because they are remembering it they way the want, not the way it was.

  15. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to take it to you, just giving a second opinion on a show that I enjoyed and like I said it’s alot better than past attempts to bring Knight Rider back.

  16. @Merrill

    You can have a great show in ANY genre.

    We’ll see how long “good, cheesy fun” lasts.


  17. Then again you can have a great show with great writing that gets cancelled quickly like Firefly, and Brimstone, and tripe that stays on tv for years like Big Brother and Survivor. People are really fickle and I think sometimes we give them too much credit at wanting well written, intelligent shows. Lost,and House are exceptions rather than the rule. Most of my viewing is done around the Discovery Channel or Sci-fi. The New Dr Who is a very good well done show. I just expect KR to last longer then TKR, but who knows with the ratings and just how many people agree with you who have the boxes. I don’t have the box and I’ve seen lots of well written shows axed before their time. All in all this reminded me of what I remembered was so great about Knight Rider, Taking my evening a plopping down infront of the tv and watching a cool looking car do impossible things.

    We’re going to disagree on how we view this show, but they are only opinions and you’ve treated my very civily even though I don’t agree with you.

    Let’s have a discussion like this again sometime. I think we’ve finished this one. :)

  18. “Then again you can have a great show with great writing that gets cancelled quickly like Firefly, and Brimstone, and tripe that stays on tv for years like Big Brother and Survivor.”

    On THAT point we agree. :-)

    Sometimes there’s no justice in the world of televsion.


  19. I’m all for “good, cheesy fun” and now that I know to view this as such, I’ll give it another shot. I’m not seeing it do any better the second time around though because it’s past cheesy and on to just painful. The copious amounts of subpar writing/acting are enough to send me away forever, but that’s not all I have against it. Basic truths are ignored (my first comment) and the CG work is simply pathetic. With today’s computers they have the power to do almost anything they want, in a very realistic manner. Instead they transform the only Mustang, on the planet, I’ll refer to as good looking into a hideous beast and use poorly implemented effects to try to convince us it can fly, among other things. I’d love to see this show reformed to something I can sit through because I love the idea of a super advanced car that can do everything K.I.T.T. can do. I’m not so keen on the super advanced car looking like a teenage boy racer’s ride with a glued on hood ornament and massive spoiler.

    I’d love to see this show reformed and made into what it could be. A genuinely good show with one super bad-azz car and impressive tech that is borderline believable. Until then, I’m going to be sitting it out.

    I don’t know what Brimstone is, but I can totally agree with the rest of the statement Vic just quoted. I miss Firefly and could stand to never see mention of Big Brother ever again.

    As before, I’ll add my disclaimer that I’m not writing with any intention of belittling. Please read as somebody that is voicing their opinion and not attacking. Unfortunately the internet is not very good at conveying a message with the proper voice.

  20. Please ignore the idiocy of the double “like to see reformed” statements. I didn’t mean for the first one. It should have just been the “I love the idea of a…” part of that sentence.

    I’m going back to bed now. I’m tired. :P

  21. Also, in the “attack mode” I’d like to know what the purpose of the boy-racer neon lights under the car were. :-P


  22. That I’m at a loss for. It was flash for flash sake there, probably just to grab the interest of the tuner bois.

  23. Perhaps they were some sort of Ion propulsion system that assist in the VTOL…

  24. I think part of the problem is that we aren’t in the 80′s anymore. We’ve seen what good shows in this genre can be and we’ve come to expect more. At it’s start the original KR was new and different and the “cheese factor” was in many of the shows airing and became what we socially accepted for television programming. Now we expect/want more, we want some depth, we want decent effects, and because (and I say this with trepidation) the viewers are smarter now, we want it to make logical/scientific sense.
    This new KR had a few moments that I thought were signs that there’s hope. I actually like the truck mode and was surprised when it happened. The SPM is lame and I liked the Movie Pilot look better. KITT just looks like a box on wheels now (lets spend billions of dollars to make it look like a tuner?!?! that’s cutting edge).
    The characters and plot need time, I can see where they are going and the potential is strong. It might have a chance if they focus on simplifying the whole KITT thing a bit, stop trying to go over the top (less is sometimes more) and remember that they are working on a serial tv program otherwise they are bound to jump the shark before it’s time.

  25. “I think part of the problem is that we aren’t in the 80’s anymore. We’ve seen what good shows in this genre can be and we’ve come to expect more.”

    Thank you – EXACTLY what I’ve been trying to say.

    Also (and this is an important point), MANY of those 80s shows like Knight Rider, The A-Team, The Flash, etc. started out as SERIOUS shows (look at the first one or two episodes of each of those). But for some reason the pattern back in the 80s was for every one of those to fall into a “save the babe of the week whose scientist dad has been captured by bad guys and make it goofy.”


  26. Spot on, Talyn. I was born mid-80′s, so I can’t sound off on the shows of that era, but I am well aware of what they’re feeding us today. The new rendition could be classic Knight Rider to a “T,” but, unless they want to only target the purely nostalgic type, that’s not a terribly good thing. I wasn’t even alive during the Knight Rider craze, so I didn’t fall in love with the original. Sure, I’ve been able to see episodes, but missing out on the huge hoopla of the press and fans can really change how you perceive and accept a show. That’s not to say that with enough press and big enough fan clubs any show can be generally accepted. Just to conjecture as to why it might be easier for an older generation to see worth in a show that somebody else, like me, sees as a complete mess.

  27. @TalynRider – I wouldn’t be say “viewers are smarter”, that’s just a little arrogant; it’s more like viewers expect a higher slightly standard of production now, in both writing and visual effects (though a lot of CGI around these days is just as cheesy as some of the effects work in the 1980s).

  28. Let us not forget that the original series was hardly the great acting tome of our time…it mainly consisted of Hasselhoff driving around in his half open shirt, hitting on women and chasing around jewel thieves and blackmailers

  29. I grew up with Knight Rider being my hero. The theme song is my ringtone even to this day. I bought all the old episodes on DVD and rewatched them, enjoying them all. But back then, I was a kid. We didn’t think about it making sense logically. I watched it as a serious show and I didn’t even pick up the inuendos between Michael and the girls in the show, being too young.

    Watching it now, I realize it is cheezy and it would never hold up to today’s tv standards. But I know that if I was an 8 year old again, all those cheesy lighting effect and transformations would make me fall in love all over again. I’m not sure who knight rider’s target audience was, but it mostly appealed to kids.

    The new series is more of the same, except that the “naked” scene would have made my eyes bug out as an 8 year old =). Their target is still younger viewers, even though it has has some nods for the older ones. As an older and adult audience, it really isn’t made for us. I too found the lack of oxygen thing to be very silly, much like I find the use of lasers in the original to be silly. I kind of wish they steped it up a notch and targed viewer who were fans of the orignal, rather than making it for kids. Star wars is suffering from the same problem, it’s not growing with the audience.