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Knight Rider returns. I'm not sure why

(Review of the Knight Rider reboot pilot, February 2008)

I almost didn't write this review, because I could feel an inordinate amount of sarcasm welling up inside me. Yes, we're desperate right now; there's so little new stuff to watch that anything that isn't a rerun looks pretty good. But the new and improved Knight Rider doesn't feel all that new, and I'm not sure they improved anything. It feels like a re-do of a show that wasn't all that good in the first place.

Deanna Russo was okay in the usual "I'm brunette so I must have a brain" lead female role; in particular, I thought she did pretty well expressing the appropriate level of panic as KITT rescued her and sped very fast through mountainous and scary roads as the bad guys were shooting at her. But when Justin Bruening (Mike) was introduced doing something idiotic, I thought, please don't let him be the male lead. And he was. Fortunately, I started liking him a bit more as the pilot progressed. At the very least, I like him much better than David Hasselhoff. But then again, I like nearly every actor better than David Hasselhoff.

Of course, it made zero sense that a brilliant scientist and an FBI agent (a black, lesbian FBI agent -- yes, let's kill two demographics with one stone) would let a former Army ranger turned party animal have that car. But then they explained it by making it a family affair. Our hero, Mike Traceur (okay, I'm going to spoil you) turned out to be the son of the original Michael Knight. Of course that made sense, in a way that's... no, it doesn't. Because I never understood why anyone would give the original Michael Knight control of KITT, either.

Yes, the car itself is definitely cool. It doesn't turn into a Transformer robot or anything, which was good because I was having a hard enough time suspending belief, but it's a supercomputer that can tap into pretty much anything, it's bullet-proof and nearly indestructible, and it can camouflage itself as a Honda Civic. Unfortunately, the constant Ford tie-in ads made me feel like I was trapped in a two-hour Mustang commercial. And I missed the acerbic voice of William Daniels, who was the voice of the original KITT. He was practically the best part of the original series.

Yes, I'm probably being way too tough, and I don't usually do that. Knight Rider was kinda fun in an action eye-candy sorta way. And pilots aren't always the best indicator of how a series will develop. (Hey, look at Buffy.) If Knight Rider finds an audience, and it very well could, this show could be a runaway hit, pun intended.

But I suspect it won't hold my attention for long.
Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


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