Directors: Alan J Levi and Sam Pillsbury | Fabulous Films | Both on sale 12th June
Knight Rider is one of those TV series from the 1980’s that was HUGE at the time, ridiculed after it’s run had ended and is now beloved by fans of cult television or those who are just nostalgic.
It is perhaps why a television movie was made in 1991 by NBC that attempted to relaunch the series after it’s initial run ended n 1986. And then another relaunch TVM in 1994. Neither worked, as well as other reboot efforts that would follow, indicating that Knight Rider for many starts and stops with David Hasselhoff and the eighties.
The ’91 and ’94 failures are Knight Rider 2000 and Knight Rider 2010. 2000 can be seen as a direct follow up to the original that borrows heavily from the ‘source’ material while attempting to introduce new ideas and characters in order to distinguish itself for the potential full run of shows that was the desired outcome of the TVM. 2010, however, has essentially no link to what came before it other than the name and the fact one character creates a ‘super’ car much like KITT (only not as good).
Here is a look at both titles…
Despite this being set nine years into the future, the expectations of ‘the future’ are incredibly far fetched here. The script writers must have thought a lot would happen between 1991 and 2000. In this near future criminals are cryogenically frozen instead of being sent off to prison, people who are shot in the head can simply have a computer chip inserted into their brain to recover and car windscreens are VR enabled. Whoever saw this on its first broadcast must have been disappointed come the end of the decade.
Plot wise elements are borrowed from other sci-fi flicks that, such as Robocop. The use of cryogenics brings to mind Demolition Man, although credit to Knight Rider 2000 as this predates the Stallone/Snipes movie by a few years. Unfortunately the execution of these plot strands are not up to scratch. The practical and special effects are nearly non-existent which further hamper matters.
David Hasselhoff is his usual handsome self and he manages to not be too over the top in his role. His character of Michael Knight has a love interest (of course he does) which does quite sit right. The actress, Susan Norman, is likeable enough but there isn’t any real chemistry between them.
In perhaps the most memorable and bizarre scene of the feature, James Doohan aka Scotty from Star Trek cameos as himself. The scene in which this happens adds nothing to the movie other than providing some surreal comedy.
KNIGHT RIDER 2010.
A few years after the previous failure, the Knight Rider brand has another attempted retooling with this. This time the ‘near future’ is a little more grim and dystopian. In what looks like a post nuclear environment a handful of humans try to survive. This one borrows heavily from Mad Max and its sequels, while helping itself to Blade Runner.
Everything is low-fi and stripped down, the ‘super’ car is basically a car made of spare parts that can go really fast. There is a monster truck in the film which could have been a lot more interesting, but this is sadly not capitalised on.
It’s main saving grace is the actor Richard Joseph Paul as Jake McQueen. He is likeable in the role and does have some charisma about him.
Following these television movies Knight Rider would see more failed relaunches. In 1997 there was an actual series named Team Knight Rider and 2008 saw a more mooted yet ultimately abandoned NBC season. Rumours are swirling that a big budget Hollywood film version is in the works.
Knight Rider is endearing and clearly has a fan base that want it to be back on TV screens. However these DVD releases show that somethings are perhaps best left in the past.