Review: Knight Rider TV Movie/Pilot

Published 7 years ago by , Updated February 9th, 2012 at 9:56 pm,

knight rider review Review: Knight Rider TV Movie/Pilot

This review is for last February’s two hour pilot – If you’re looking for the September Knight Rider series premiere review click here.

Let’s get just get straight to the punch line: NBC’s Knight Rider TV movie (or pilot, depending on what you’d rather call it) was not nearly as awful as I had anticipated.

Now that that’s out of the way, please don’t mistake “not as awful” for “awesome.”

I will say that one of the things I reminded myself of as I watched this with the intention of writing a review was that the original series was not exactly Citizen Kane.

Overall I would describe it as a typical mediocre TV movie punctuated with moments of awfulness.

BTW, there will be spoilers in this Knight Rider review, so you have been warned.

I fully admit that I expected the worst from this, so believe me when I say I was surprised that I actually found the opening few minutes to be pretty decent. A couple of bad guys posing as guys from the local electric company show up at the door of inventor Charles Graiman. It seems he’s been working on some top secret government program and the baddies want the information on his hard drive, along with the decryption codes.

Dumb item #1: Graiman it turns out is working on some super-top-secret computer program called Prometheus which can control satellites, computer networks and prepare pancakes (ok, I made that last one up). It’s so dangerous that in the wrong hands it could be used to start a war… And Graiman is working on it on his home computers.

As they’re questioning and strong-arming him, he apparently dies. They explore the house and come across our hero: The Knight Industries 3000, aka K.I.T.T. The car promptly starts up on its own and takes off, but not before capturing an image of the lead bad guy, and showing off its bullet-proof abilities.

The bullet-proof visual effect was actually pretty cool, with a slow-mo closeup of the bullets hitting the car, causing some sort of crystalline effect and then bouncing off not leaving a scratch. I also liked the opening credits, which used the original music and definitely paid tribute to the old TV series.

Unfortunately when we return from commercial things get a bit cheesy. We start off with meeting the daughter of Graiman: 24 year old Sarah who is the prototypical attractive Ph.D candidate wearing glasses to make her look smarter. From there we cut to seeing Mike Tracer in bed with not one, but two babes, and he shares a house with the obligatory polar opposite geeky roommate.

It seems that Mike races cars and his roomie is the mechanic. Mike is in debt to some loan shark to the tune of $90 grand, and after demonstrating some of his ex-Army Ranger fighting skills is given until that evening to raise the money.

Dumb item #2: I found it hard to swallow that an ex-Army Ranger would be such an obviously undisciplined and irresponsible guy.

Then we cut to a beach scene with a lingering close up of some wet hottie removing her t-shirt to show off her glistening bikini-clad chest. It felt like the PG-13 version of a wet t-shirt contest. Immediately following we meet Carrie Ruvai, a tough FBI agent which the shows goes out of its way to show us is a lesbian with a penchant for one-night stands.

All this within the first 10 minutes of the show – I suppose to make sure that the target male demographic hangs around to watch then next 110 minutes, which BTW contains nothing even remotely resembling these first few scenes, thus proving my point for their insertion.

Anyway, K.I.T.T tracks down Sarah, warns her she’s in danger, picks her up and then brings her to Mike because they had a brief fling and her father trusts him to take care of her if anything goes wrong.

I will admit that soap opera actor Justin Bruening wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought he’d be based on the brief clips that were released about a week ago. I think that if this gets spun off into a weekly series he’ll probably do all right.

What is there to say here? It was your pretty typical mid-level TV show. Not at the level of say, Journeyman, Lost or Battlestar Galactica, but it was better than Bionic Woman.

Part of what kept it from being better is that the story was pretty weak. The threat just wasn’t all that compelling despite the described possibility of armageddon. It was basically “keep the bad guys from decrypting the code and uploading instructions to the satellite.” Not what I’d call riveting.

However there were a number of thing that struck me as really annoying and sometimes blindingly stupid. The worst offender was a scene where our heroes, in their 540HP, computer driven Ford Shelby Mustang are being chased by the bad guys in what looks like one of those SUV/station wagon hybrids.

And the Mustang can’t seem to outrun it.

Oh, but it gets better – the chase comes to a point where K.I.T.T. calculates that an escape opportunity is coming up but the probability of the bad guys dying due to the manuever is very high. The good guys manage to snake through traffic on a curvy mountain road at 100MPH with the baddies in hot pursuit. K.I.T.T swerves between cars and leaves the bad guys heading straight for an oncoming Mac truck with nowhere to turn… and we cut to commercial.

When we return to the scene in progress, we see the bad guys scream, slam on the brakes… and both the truck and their vehicle come to a stop within inches of their front bumpers connecting.

I actually yelled out loud at the ridiculousness of that scene! Two vehicles speeding towards each other at a combined speed of probably 160MPH with them seeing each other maybe 6 car lengths away – and they are able to stop in time to avoid a collision.

Ho-lee crap, are you kidding me?

Other dumb items of note:

- When K.I.T.T. first rescues Sarah, the bad guys leap away from her in panic, even though the car isn’t even heading straight at them.

- Mike, who has returned from Iraq, says: “I’ve done plenty of fighting – trust me, it doesn’t make a difference.” Ah yes, I’m completely in the dark as to the political persuasion of whoever wrote that line.

- Where did 24 year old Ph.D candidate Sarah get $90,000 within a matter of a couple of hours to pay off the loan sharks?

- It turns out that Sarah’s father survived, and his body double was killed (body double??). Why did he run off into the woods when he had a fully functioning, super-high tech bullet-proof car sitting in the garage?

What was good? I liked the nods to the original series with the opening credits, and at one point Mike’s mother says to Graiman “It’s not another Trans-Am, is it?” The car’s “morphing” abilities were much more subtle than I had feared when I hear comparisons to the Transformers movie. It could change color, add a spoiler and other minor touches, and again, the effects were pretty cool.

I also liked David Hasselhoff’s cameo. He actually played it well and I believed that this was the same Michael Knight, but much older.

If it becomes an ongoing TV series will I watch it? Probably not, but I think it would most likely find an audience.

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  1. Good review Vic, sounds like it had some great moments yet ultimatly was crap.
    It will be interesting to see how far this and Sarah Connor show go. They seem alot alike to me.

  2. What ever!! People like you keep shows like lost, lipstick Jungle, Sarah Conner Chornicles Battle star on the air they STINK!!! nothing but the same shows with different titles!!!

    No show is a hit the first time it is aired.. so what.. you think every show on TV should be based on REALITY… what world are you living on? I sure need to stay off that planet.

    You think boring remakes of people in relationships cheating, lying and sleeping around are good shows you got to be kidding me… sorry that this show had to stoop for 5 seconds to catch peoples attention because that is all they SEE… EVERY SHOW…

    This is the FIRST TIME that I have watched a major network in years… so glad it wasn’t another teeny bopper, 30 something show about sick relationships…

    I hope they keep the show…and get rid of the reality teeny bopper and 30 something shows…


    It is called change, if you don’t like change, to bad it happens.

  3. Actually some of my all time favorite TV shows have been shows like classic Star Trek and Stargate SG-1.

    I’m not at all a fan of shows involving excessive amounts of “sleeping around” and cheating – as a matter of fact that’s one of the aspects of BSG that I only tolerate and don’t enjoy.

    What do look for in a show is a story that actually engages me, good acting and yes, even cool special effects – but not at the expense of the former two items.


  4. You said it Vic, Baltar in BSG infuriates me to no end. And yes its hard to watch his labido destroy lives.
    Man I sure look forward to his on screen death!!!!
    Of course havnt seen season 3 yet?

  5. I didn’t think it was all that bad. Certainly better than alot of this “reality” crap that is inundating the airwaves. I have no idea how people can STILL watch awful shows like Survivor and American Idol. Give me a little Knight Rider over that ANY DAY!!!

  6. Well, the original Knight Rider wasn’t exactly a cerebral show to begin with anyway, so they’re just keeping up that old spirit :-)

    When will they re-do Airwolf, though?..

  7. I really liked the Knight Rider pilot, except for the beginniing which hinted that the female FBI agent is a Lesbian. Will probably not watch it since it is not appropriate for my 10-year old son.

  8. I have to admit that I was very disappointed. In fact, I turned it off after they botched the high speed chase collision.

    The sex stuff was a blatant attempt to appeal to teenage boys. I could accept that.
    A completely irresponsible Army Ranger. Umm, ok.
    The FBI isn’t sure if there was foul play involved with the death of the father, despite the bullet ridden roomba, missing equipment, cut power lines, bullets and casings in the street, and reports of automatic gunfire? Kind of a long shot. (Plus, why does an FBI agent even know about secret defense department information let alone discuss it in the lobby with an uncleared person?)
    A speeding minivan and a tractor-trailer avoiding a collision with only yards between them. It’s that straw that broke the camels back.

    Worse than Knight Rider 2010. At least I managed to watch all of that.

  9. 1. I understand tie-in’s, but I think they over-did it with Ford. All background cars were also Fords…it was not subtle and was a distraction.
    2. No way a Ford Edge can keep up with any Mustang on a straight road, let alone KITT on twisting roads. Maybe KITT isn’t that high performance?
    3. I was amused by the Las Vegas tie-in at the Montecito. They *didn’t* over-do it here.
    4. As I remember on the original, there wasn’t a steady love interest, and the Hoff filled more of a James Bond type role with regards to women in most episodes. If they continue this as a series, I think this is a loss vs. the original. I think this is an attempt at a wider audience (women) while losing some appeal for men. NBC is at it again…already screwing up a great formula! If this turns into another romance series (even if in Knight Rider dress), I’ll stop watching REAL QUICK.

  10. Marina,

    I forgot to mention the double showing of the bullet effect. I’m glad I’m not the only one that was bugged by that. :-)


  11. koneill, my point about the Army Rangers is that they are highly disciplined and trained men. The kind of guys that have rock solid focus. So seeing someone who supposedly was one of them acting so “sloppy” just didn’t feel right.


  12. As for the “sexy” beginning series to lure in teenage viewers, this is nothing new. I remember as a teenager HAVING to watch the beginning of “The Fall Guy” to see Heather Thomas in a bikini, so don’t think this is something that the networks just discovered. It’s been there all along, maybe it just seems more obvious now.

  13. From all the posts here I guess its pretty much what I thought it would be.
    A lame remake that didn’t need to happen. NBC strikes again. How can this show even hope to beat FOX’s sunday night lineup???

  14. I am so sick of all of you jaded idiots being so negative of everthing that comes on TV.. All you people do is watch shows to tear then down..How about going in with a positive attitude and just watch the damn show… If TV is that bad in your eyes go make your on ‘perfect’ show/movie or better yet just dont watch TV and mabye go loose some wieght since I’m guessing at least a few of you arent excactly healthy!! So go ahead and rip me now since Im sure you ‘experts’ will!! Later

  15. Oh come on KJ its fun to rip these bad shows apart…

    I just love to rip shows like knight rider and bionic women a new one…
    (Btw) I loved them as a kid but that was then, this is now.
    Knight rider had it comming!! NBC needs to clean house and get some fresh talent in the development branch.

    If they keep putting out these horrible remakes of shows that are out of there time then prepair to hear me rag on it….. endlessly…..thanks Screenrant!!!

  16. I’d say I *am* jaded, only because the bar has been lowered so much.

    I had high hopes for the new Knight Rider. I still do if it goes to a series. I liked the pilot for the most part, but there were a couple of places that really bugged me. I think the studios have a habit of weakening shows to satisfy some goal besides making a good show. In this case, shilling (excessively) Ford products was one point. …I think just having the Mustang in there is great advertising by itself, for the Ford brand in general. And, one thing I can’t stand, is that studios can’t be satisfied with a show that is really good, but maybe only targets just men, women, younger, older, etc. They will add stuff to widen the appeal, but the show becomes less appealing to the original group. Cheesy romance and Knight Rider just don’t go together!

  17. I skipped “Masterpiece” re-airing of Part 2 of BBC’s “Pride and Prejudice” and ended up falling asleep about an hour in. I’m with you Vic – started off well enough (actually, I was a bit giddy when I heard the music again) and I really liked the FX of the bullets hitting the car (though it was really unnecessary to show us the effect again the second time.

    Didn’t hate Kilmer as KITT but it wasn’t quite all there for me. The voice was a little too human for my liking.

    I’d be really surprised if this found legs as a series, especially if they keep this cast. The doctor’s daughter and the guy (who can be bothered with names) are GOD AWFUL.

    Still, the opening was cool.

  18. Looked forward too it hyped myself up for it. Let down because the orignal point of the show was the relationship between man and his car. They ignored much of what came before. The original series ended and Knight Rider 2000 aired in 1994. It took place in 2000 with a red vette labelled the Knight Industries 4000 the most advanced super car known to man and we’re suppose to believe this mustang supersedes it. Come on! Second the whole colour change hello been done with a short run show called “Viper”. Honored Knight Rider more just minus the A.I. The original KITT was already bullet proof so all the nanites really did was change the car’s colour and add a spoiler. Bring back the orginal voice for KITT William Daniels and bring back some emotional connectivity between the driver and his car. Then maybe it would be worth watching.

  19. OK, looking at this I have to say the movie wasn’t that bad, and if this goes to series, I think it has potential. Yes, I’ll agree that it had it’s problems, but I’ve never known a single series that didn’t have problems with its first episodes. This was intended to be a pilot, so I’d say there are still bugs to work out, but nothing that can’t be fixed. The chase/near collision scene was a mistake, and I had some problems with how quickly KITT repaired the damage from the collision at the end, but these were the biggest problems I had.

    I liked that they didn’t try to tie themselves into KR2000 or TKR, but stuck to following just the original series, including references to events and technologies from that series. The fact that this car is not the original character in a new body makes the Mustang far more acceptable, and the new character seems to fit the new design. The fact that KITT is not indestructible has to repair damage is a nice reference to the misisng formula for the molecular bonded shell from the original series, and the morphing of the car to a faster configuration is a nice advancement of the original Super Pursuit Mode.

    Normally, I’ll admit, I wouldn’t be as forgiving of the mistakes this made, but I’ve always been a fan of the original, and that fondness allow me to overlook the flaws in that show. This movie really seems to be following in that spirit, treating the original series with respect and not appearing to try to make it into something it wasn’t. This version definitely has its flaws as well, but they look to have been made in the same spirit as the original’s. Given what Knight Rider was, this looks like a decent revival.

    Personally, I look forward to finding out what NBC decides to do. If they pick it up for next season, I’ll probably be watching.

  20. I concur on the whole Ford commercial thing. I switched it off after watching it for about 15 minutes, after which I’d seen all the Ford-logos I can stomach for one night. Actually, I did notice a couple of Volvo’s which were taken out pretty quickly (or at least they ended up in a ditch or on the side of the road; you know, Volvo’s are SOOO unsafe that way).
    I watched the original Knight Rider growing up in Europe, so I don’t know about this, so here’s a question: did the original series also have “Ford car giveaway sweepstakes” commercials in between??
    Please, this is as lame as GM trying to push its models in the Transformers movie a couple of months ago (I did actually like that movie; couldn’t care less about the cars though). 2/18/2008 5:32 PM | Blurpie

  21. KJ,

    If you’re still following the comments here, I don’t tolerate name calling. If you disagree, fine, but do so in a civil manner.

    Next, as others have said, the reason we’re jaded is because so much garbage has been repeatedly foisted upon us. If we accept everything they shovel at us with no complaint, shows will continue to get worse and worse.

    As to “How about going in with a positive attitude and just watch the damn show”, I’ll point you to my season premiere reviews of Journeyman and Heroes.

    And then there’s my review of the series finale of Journeyman, which is exceedingly positive.

    If a show is good, I say so. If it stinks, I’ll say so as well.

    Best regards,


  22. A decent review–far less biased than most I’ve found online. Personally I found the show pretty lame. Too many cliches & stupid characters, too much bad acting. I also felt like I was watching a Ford commercial sandwiched between Ford commercials (& I’m NOT a Ford fan.) I won’t be watching it again & wish I could get those 2 hours of my life back.

  23. this was the most terrible piece of crap i’ve ever seen. It was a 2 hour show that ive been trying to finish watching for 48hours, and thats not because I was too busy to watch. Not that the original was loaded with great story lines and emmy award winning acting but holy CRAP!

    Lastly, KITT as a mustang….. I just can’t do it. Nice job by Ford though, the bad guys drive a tahoe.

  24. Sam, yeah, I hear ya. I just tried to keep in mind how cheesy the original was, so to hold this one up to TOO high a standard didn’t make much sense.

    But that non-collision scene… damn.


  25. It was most disappointing because i loved the original as a kid. I even liked the one when KITT was red Dodge Stealth floating down the riverwalk in San Antonio.

    Wow, it was bad!!!!!

  26. Here’s a list of shows from the 70′s and 80′s that I am sure most of us here have enjoyed and have sentimental attachment to. Yet, all these have unrealistic depictions of violence and improbably storylines…but I bet you still enjoyed the show anyway.

    The Dukes of Hazzard
    TJ Hooker
    The A-Team
    Knight Rider
    The Fall Guy

    I don’t think the new Knight Rider movie was any less believable than any of those shows. Everyone’s harping on the crash scene, but how many THOUSANDS of bullets flew around in the A-Team and never hit ANYONE. Hell, at least in the new Knight Rider they actually showed someone getting shot and dying. Yeah, there were flaws, but ALOT of shows have/had flaws but we’re still able to enjoy them. I mean this isn’t “Nova” we’re talking about here!!!

  27. Excellent review…I agreed with every word letter for letter.

  28. I found the new Knight Rider a massive disappointment.
    What always confused me about the franchise was here’s this guy who has no family, no life, no identity and yet he smiled as if his facial muscle didn’t produce lactic acid.

    In the new show they had a chance to do something with this so-called ‘shadowy world of a man who does not exist’. A chance to give it some heart and some edge like in ‘Heroes’. Instead it opens with Mike Traceur (probably respelled to reduce the uber-masculinity), an irresponsible git of a man in bed with two super models, more like a nod to Baywatch than KR.

    Maybe I’m too optimistic, but I was hoping for something like ‘The Bourne Identity meets Knight Rider Mk 1′.

    Who can I write to in the hope of suggesting some changes (not that I’m a great writer or anything!)?

  29. Mick, my impression of the Mike character was the same as yours, as I mentioned above.

    You can probably find a way to contact the studio at .