Review: Knight Rider TV Movie/Pilot

Published 6 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. Andy you were spot on in your comments in HAVING to watch the Fall Guy because of Heather Thomas.Also, I would add one more to your listing of unrealistic shows of the 70′s and 80′s,that some of us loved,MacGyver.Hell he built airplanes,stoped armed to the teeth maniacs without a gun,and cured cancer,all with a Swiss Army knife and a roll of duct tape.Never thought it was realistic for a moment,but I enjoyed watching it.

  2. Seriously…
    I thought MacGyver was a comedy?
    ^
    Looking at that list you come to realise, WOW tv used to suck bigtime. (Well kinda still does).
    ^
    Its clear to see how many options we have nowadays.

    I remember watching some of those shows because there was no internet or cable. Looking back, I don’t want to see any of them remade.
    ^
    I’ve talked to alot people that don’t post here and the majority (all really) of them thought this Knight Rider show was absolutly comically horrid.

    If NBC does greenlight it I’m betting it will last as long as Journeyman.
    (And that’s an insult to Journeyman).

  3. Some shows have really bad pilots but turn out to be good series. Heck, Torchwood had a really bad 1st season. The second season is so much better it’s hard to believe it’s the same people.

  4. Damn Steve, you’re probably one of the most cynical people on here. LOL

    Let me guess, you LOVE the new Battlestar Gallactica series, right?

  5. That sucks for me I just picked up Torchwood season 1 on dvd.
    ^
    So far I’ve only seen the first episode.
    It reminded me of the first episode of Doctor Who (the new series) with Rose Tyler.
    It had almost the exact same character plotline.
    ^
    I like Capt Jack I hope they keep the flaming down I’ve heard there’s lots in this show. That’s prob the main gripe I’ll have about it. (I hope your wrong Darkbhudda).
    Cost me 60bucks. I purchased it on the fact that its made by the same folks at Doc Who productions.
    ^
    I sure wish they would make a Red Dwarf film.

  6. Bhudda,

    Good point. It takes some shows a while to find their groove. I hear “The Sarah Connor Chronicles” has gotten better lately, although I haven’t been watching it.

    Vic

  7. For the record I think remaking of old T.V. series and movies are generally a bad idea.We become to fond of the actors and actress’s who portray the roles in the shows we liked and nobody can replace them.So I think it’s futile to try,for the most part.

    I have 2 more shows to add to your list Andy,Crime Story,and the first 2 seasons of Wiseguy,of course Steve will rag on these too because we have not included Murder She Wrote.lol

  8. What makes you say that Andy?
    ^
    BSG, well I have all of the seasons on dvd because I picked them up cheap… I just recently picked up the BSG 1980 dvd for like 10 bucks.
    ^
    But Andy I’ve only watched maybe 5 episodes I don’t have cable so I only see them on dvd. I didn’t like the changes at first but then since nothing else is going on right now on sci-fi for tv was like ,yeah whatever.

    The episodes I have watched have satisfied and have frustrated.
    Adama and the female president are very hard to deal with. Cylons killing humans at the same time want to be treated like humans and gaining support from some that arte on the front lines and have seen the death these bastards cause well that really pisses me off. Baltar I guess he’s a good actor cause everytime I see that F’! I want to strangle him and why o why dosnt anyone notice he’s talking to himself?

    cynical yea prob?

  9. Yea Vic Sarah Connor show is getting better.
    ^
    I’m not happy with there wiping out T3′s timline but whatever.
    ^
    Did anyone notice the obvious nod to T2, co-writer William Wisher last night?

  10. That’s harsh Tom!
    ^
    Crime Story is one of my favorite shows of that time.
    I have all episodes on dvd.
    ^
    Its amazing to see Torello take down Ray Luca with payphones and revolvers.
    ^
    murder she wrote come on I wouldn’t even go that low with an insult.

  11. First I am going to say that I LOVED MacGyver! That show was a lot of fun, even with the impropable stunts, etc. Besides, it’s pretty much spawned whole episodes of Mythbusters! LOL!

    Steve, I can’t STAND the new Battlestar. I watched about 3 episodes of it and just stopped. Maybe growing up with the original left me uncomfortable with this new, very DARK version. Why does everything have to be dark these days? Is it a result of 9/11 and the endless war in Iraq? I don’t know, but I would sure LOVE some levity in new scifi shows. I think that is why I love the new Dr. Who series. It pays homage to the old, but is all new, too.

    As for the new Terminator series, I think it has gotten MUCH better. I don’t miss it. I’m still not crazy about the teenage Terminator, but it’s still a good show that has the spirit of the first 2 movies. I actually think this series is BETTER than T-3. I hope it is on for a while and doesn’t get the JOURNEYMAN treatment.

  12. Well if this site proves anything its that we all have different Sci-fi taste buds.
    ^
    MacGyver to me was B tv. Same with Stargate SG1. (Bring it SG1 fans!)
    ^
    BSG, it should be a dark show and I was a HUGE fan of the orignal. Who knows maybe all hate it?
    I sure hate that Baltar character.
    Where the wireconed head Lucifer. Ah I miss him.
    ^
    Doctor Who (the new series) is nothing short of brilliant tv. I have all 3 seasons on dvd and I’m up to season 3.
    ^
    Terminator Sarah Connor Cronicles. Is getting better but I hate her balck hair and also how they are wiping out T3. I loved T3 Andy,,,
    ^
    Its all Different Strokes for different folks boys. (Boy that sounded gay). Nevermind.
    I’m in trouble now again its all your fault Andy!!!!

  13. Steve you think Murder She Wrote is a low insult,imagne the torture of having to watch it every Sunday because it’s family night in the house hold.

    IMO the new Battlestar Galactica is crap,they turned it into a freaking soap opera!

    T3,I liked it too Steve,I thought it was hilarious.

  14. That sucks Tom, I was just kidding around about that being an insult.
    (I kid around alot here). I bet you were praying for a Murder she Wrote cancellation. Haha.
    ^
    Yea I have serious probs with BSG but I do like the show at the same time.
    I though the Pegasis 2 prter was really pretty good but I do need to really start from the beginning on that. I’ll have more to say later on BSG…
    ^
    T3, halarious? Well I really thought it was great…
    ^

  15. Wow, Steve! Harshing on SG-1! I love that show-Ori and all!! I also really like Stargate: Atlantis. Heck, I even like Flash Gordon, which alot of people said was awful. Guess it grew on me!!

    I’m not saying I didn’t like T-3, but I think this storyline is better….

  16. Steve were cool,alot of what I say is in jest too,you haven’t offended me or anything.

  17. Thanks Tom, its been nothing but damage control for me here lately.
    ^
    On Sarah Connor show, I just fear that the events in the tv show are going to carry over to the new film.
    I have a bad feeling the next film is going to suck. :)

  18. I know what you mean Steve,Vic took me to the wood shed last week.

    I’m with you on the next Terminator film sucking,it doesn’t seem the movie series and the T.V show would mesh well.

  19. Yea I’m just not a fan of SG1. I know alot folks here like that show so I won’t go any further my any comments.
    ^
    Feel the same way about Smallville too.

  20. “Vic took me to the wood shed last week.”

    Heh, thanks for the laugh, Tom. :-)

    Vic

  21. Good news!! It’s airing again on Saturday night!! WOO HOO! ;)

  22. Thanks for the warning Andy.

  23. I. THinK Nite rider is poO pOoo.

    !

    MiKeey :

  24. What was the original KITT’s coolest ability? TURBO BOOST!! I can’t believe for a possibly new series they wouldn’t introduce or show us the new KITT’s ability to turbo boost or anything else like his micro-wave jam ability, computer hacking ability, etc. That car chase scene went on way too long. For a super high tech car why did it take a near miss accident to stop the bad guys. Probably the only reason I watched the show when I was 12 was the anticipation of a cool car chase. I didn’t care who Michael Knight was going to make out with. I wanted to see something that my dad’s car didn’t already do. If there was an episode that didn’t have turbo boost in it than it better have had a really interesting story. The new Knight Rider had neither. I was very disappointed. Even my 9 year old said, “lets watch the old show dad” which I have on DVD. Hope the series can add substance if it’s picked up.

  25. An NBC executive came up with the idea of Knight Rider while driving the Bionic Woman to the unemployment office. Oh, and did you see the scene where the car had to swerve to avoid something lying in the middle of the road? Turns out it was David Hasselhoff.
    (Credit: Jay Leno’s Joke Writers)

  26. not that im critising you review i dont have a problem with it. i just want to clear up an issue. most PhD canditates well sicence ones at least usually get offered alot of money to study there phd at different collages. and this isnt grant money either to fund their research its a salary or bribe or what ever u want to call it.

  27. Compared against the original – which was cornball to begin with – this one will probably be on par with that.

    If one wants or needs a light show to round out their viewing menu I highly recommend Chuck as an alternative to this one.

  28. To be honest i dont know where to even begin. I swear this show was an absolute atrocious, and that’s seriously an understatement. I was expecting it to be horrible but it was litterally about 5x worse than I actually expected it would be and thats an understatement as well. It reminded me of one of those stupid teen shows and I seriously felt like vomiting within 15 minutes of watching it. It has a horrible plot, horrible story line, and horrible acting. Val Kilmer as the voice of Kitt? I’d seriously like to know what genius casted that douchebag. Val should NOT be playing KITT. Val himself has absolutely no personality and I honestly hate every part he ever played, except maybe for the weed man he played in Entrourage. But my point is..what made the original Knight Rider so successful was that Kitt wasn’t just car of Micheal Knight… he was a great character! Also making KITT a mustang..HUGE MISTAKE! It’s like NBC had to strip the soul of the memories we all have of the original show and make a mockery out of it. To be honest this may be the worst remake, if not the worst show ive ever seen. I seriously hope it does not go far cuz the creator of this show deserves to go bankrupt and hopefully never produces a piece of crap like this ever again.

  29. I just watch Knight Rider moment ago… Its not what I really wanted… Show was pretty much CRAP… Waste my time… Highly NOT recommended!!!

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