The new Knight Rider series premiers September 24 at 7pm central time on NBC, and based on the first episode, it’s pretty true to the spirit of the original. By which I mean it’s kind of dumb.
I suppose I should include a pro-forma explanation of the series premise, for handful of people who don’t know it from the original ’80’s series: Super high-tech artificially intelligent car. That talks. And helps fight bad guys.
The two hour movie that served as its pilot showed a little promise, especially in the first half, which features K.I.T.T. operating autonomously much of the time. Which would sort of be the point of having an A.I.-controlled car, wouldn’t you think?
By the start of the first episode, the Foundation for Law and Government has been re-constituted, and we join Mike Traceur (estranged son of the original Michael Knight) in the middle of a mission, searching a building for a “package,” while K.I.T.T. sits outside scanning the building with its sensors.
Then things go wrong, then there’s a chase which includes the stupidest excuse I’ve ever seen for getting some characters naked. Then more chasing, some intrigue, a bit of action, and the show ends.
My inner child is most disappointed with the treatment of K.I.T.T., who no longer seems in control. For some reason, Mike seems to spend a lot of time actually driving K.I.T.T. himself, or at least he has his hand on the wheel, moving it back and forth entirely too much for the car’s speed.
In an especially bad scene, we see that Mike himself could use a little (non-artificial) intelligence, when a female villain shows up, distracts him with a glimpse of a tattoo on her breast, and pulls a gun on him, allowing her to hurt someone he’s supposed to be protecting.
All of this happens about five feet from where K.I.T.T. is standing, but the car does nothing to stop it. Doesn’t K.I.T.T. have offensive capabilities? If nothing else, couldn’t K.I.T.T. run her over? Deploy flash-bang grenades? Pepper spray? Taser? Honk the horn really really loud? Couldn’t it at least have used its sensors—shown to be capable of scanning deep into buildings—to spot the gun under her jacket and warn Mike?
And what’s the point of K.I.T.T.’s cool new Transformers-style conversion into a tricked-out “attack mode” that nevertheless doesn’t seem to include weapons with which to attack?
Mixed in with the action scenes is a bunch of 24-style intrigue, involving characters who refuse to help each other because of mysterious security concerns, without which the show would be over sooner.
By the end, I don’t care about Mike, or his mysterious past, or his maybe-girlfriend, or anybody on the show. I wasn’t expecting art, but a little drama would have been nice.
If you’re keeping track, we’ve followed the successful re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica with an unsuccessful re-imagining of Bionic Woman and now a dreary continuation of the Knight Rider series. Can Airwolf be far behind?