Was anyone clamoring for a new Knight Rider series? I surely wasn't. After catching five promo clips of the premiere on the Internet, I expected the new Knight Rider to be a horrific disaster. More on my reaction later. Right now, let's talk about the New Knight Rider, the new driver, and the new K.I.T.T.
The story begins at at the home of Charles Graiman (Bruce Davidson), a brilliant inventor who has something of value in his home. Four men with a dubious agenda pay him a visit, and leave him for dead. Before they can get what they've come for, though, a car speeds off into the night from Graiman's home. These bad guys are looking for "Prometheus," whatever that may be.
The only one who is alive who may hold the key to this Prometheus and Charles Graiman's work is his estranged daughter, Sarah (Deanna Russo). Sarah, it turns out, just happens to know our protaganist, Mike Traceur (Justin Bruening). Mike Traceur is a fun-loving bachelor who has no problem getting women, but he does have his own set of problems. Mike owes some leg-breaking thugs a lot of cash, and his friend will be killed if the money isn't paid in full.
In between the set-up to K.I.T.T. and Mike finally meeting, we're introduced to another character, an FBI agent named Carrie Rivai (Sydney Tamiia Portier). She also happens to be a lesbian, which is refreshing to see, although I do have my suspicions that a lesbian angle was employed more for titillation than for the sake of diversity. Carrie also happens to know Charles Greyman. These three people (and K.I.T.T.) intersect when the plot takes a couple of twists. It's up to Mike and K.I.T.T. to save the day, giving birth to a new Knight Rider.
The Knight Rider two-hour movie is like most made for television movies. By that, I mean that it's extremely mediocre and basically worthless. The writing is vanilla, the acting from the male and female leads is also poor, and there is nothing new that can be taken from what will be a new show on NBC. I do like the car, though.
A smart car like K.I.T.T. is getting closer to becoming a reality than it was in the 1980s. It has GPS, it has a brain that can Google and compile information, much like your home PC can. What it can also do is change its outward appearance, much like the Viper TV show from 1994, which was itself a take on the original Knight Rider; it's sort of like first cousins getting married.
K.I.T.T. is voiced by the most random of actors, Val Kilmer. Originally it was to be Will Arnett, who has a deeper, more fitting voice; but his ties to General Motors, for whom he does commercial voice-overs, made his involvement with Knight Rider a bit awkward, since GM is a Ford competitor, and the new K.I.T.T. happens to be a Ford Mustang.
Who voices the car isn't all that important. What's important is that NBC stop having these brilliant ideas to bring old ideas like Knight Rider and American Gladiators back from the dead, along with a Double Dare clone called My Dad's Better Than Your Dad. If they are going to be as unoriginal as to resurrect dead shows, at least hire a more charismatic actor as your protagonist and promise us more than episodic television that dusts off tired cliches and takes them for yet another spin. We already know that artificial intelligence does not grasp human emotion and it's "funny" when AI decides to use common human phrases. I'm already watching The Sarah Connor Chronicles, so why do I have to watch this show?
If this two-hour premiere is any indication, the new Knight Rider series is going to be a stinkfest. I thought that it would be horribly bad, but it's just plain bad. Not that the original TV series was a masterpiece, but I like David Hasselhoff a lot more than I do Justin Bruening. Also on my stink list is Deanna Russo, who would be perfect for any generic action movie as a generic love interest. However, she isn't fit for any sort of television program in need of actual actors who can do their jobs well. I would blame her bad acting on the horrific script she was handed to memorize, but she can't even get talking to a car right.
Unless you have a fetish for talking cars or you happen to LOVE the new American Gladiators, do not watch this two-hour movie, or the TV show that is to follow. Avoid it, and try to look for something else to watch, something worth your precious time. Hardcore Knight Rider fans, be happy that this does not take place after Michael Knight has died and it takes place parallel to Michael Knight's story, so maybe we'll see the old K.I.T.T. and its driver again.