Audio commentary - with David Hasselhoff and Glen Larson on the pilot
Featurette - Knight Rider - Under the Hood
Bonus feature film - Knight Rider 2000
Knight Rider - Season 1
R4 . COLOR . 1000 mins .
PG-13 . PAL
If you remembered watching Knight Rider in the early 80's then you'd certainly list it as one of the coolest TV shows from that decade. Let's put something into perspective, do you realise that it was released over 20 years ago? Are you amazed that you can actually remember that far back into your youth and with such fondness for a TV show about an indestructable car driven by a surf life-saver who walked around on stilts? I had to stop and pause for a moment to ponder that question myself. Talk about nostalgia overload.
Michael Knight - Moonwalker!
Consider this premise if you will: A policeman Michael Long, shot in the line of duty, half his face blown off, is bought back from the brink of death to go through televisions first extreme makeover. Dying Millionaire Wilton Knight uses Michael (David Hasselhoff) and his trusted associated Devon (Edward Mulhare) to manage the Foundation for Law and Government. To make things more interesting, a prototype one of a kind indestructable and ultra high performance car was created for the team. The shows star was powered by a Knight Industries Two Thousand microprocessor, or K.I.T.T. for short, and came optioned with an array of gadgets, features and abilities never before seen in a car or a TV Show for that matter, not to mention the ability to talk (voiced by William Daniels). The exterior was modelled on a black Pontiac Trans-Am with an interior that even Michael Knight himself quoted as something out of "Darth Vaders bathroom".
Right from the outset, this show was on a winner. Great stunts, hairy predicaments and newer and cooler gadgets made for every fan boys dream TV show week in week out. Aside of the technical wizardry, the rapport developed between K.I.T.T. and Michael took the show to a different level of enjoyment with wit, sarcasm and comedy around every street corner. It was probably this aspect that really polished off the shows duco.
Included in this box set are all 22 episodes of the entire first series spread across 8 discs. Each episode is roughly 45 minutes long with some of the two-parters around the 1.5 hour mark such as the pilot episode. Oddly though, the pilot episode "Knight of the Phoenix" finds itself on disc 7 rather than disc 1.
Darryl Sommers impersonator?
Each episode is pretty much the same as the next one. Criminals make their presence felt, trouble ensues, an adversary for K.I.T.T. is revealed, solution found, smash through walls, turbo boost over car blockade, crime solved, Michael gets girl. So what, even to this day it is still great fun. One of the all time great episodes of season 1 was Trust Doesn't Rust where the original prototype for K.I.T.T. is revealed to Michael and K.I.T.T. K.A.R.R, or Knight Automotive Roving Robot, was decommissioned because it did not have the programming that would cause it to protect human life. It has all the strengths of K.I.T.T, but was programmed for self-preservation. If there are 2 cars, both indestructable, who will win with one being good and one being evil. This one earned many a repeat viewing in the old VHS days.
As a bonus in this collection is that actual 1991 made for TV movie of Knight Rider 2000. Michael is enticed out of retirement to help stave off the increasing crime rate. K.I.T.T. has been dismantled so Michael must revive K.I.T.T. via two vehicles, a 1957 Chev and then a new prototype Trans Am (that never actually made it further than a concept car unnlike the original). The one last remaining chip is to be found in the head of a police-woman. Yeah, there's no point going further with this bad attempt at reviving the franchise. The cheese is old and mouldy.
And whilst on the subject of cheese, you can't help but scour the cheese platter on offer here for everything and everything the 80's had to offer. What's worse though is not realising just how far we've come in terms of technology that certain things seem incomprehensible when seeing them. For instance, we see Michael Knight pull off to the side of a road to use a public phone and contact home base. We've become so accustomed to using a mobile phone that something like this looks so odd and out of place. Another example is someone stealing top secret documents and storing them onto a behemoth 5.25" floppy disk. Unga Bunga, talk about archival. It just freaks you out.
Finally, I was privvy to seeing numerous continuity goofs throughout each episode as well as blatantly obvious special effects to portray the image of a car driving itself. When you can clearly see a person covered in leather upholstery to make him look like an empty seat yet his arms are clearly holding the steering wheel, it throws you. Too bad DVD allows frame by frame navigation so you can check this out slowly and carefully. Once you've notived it, you'll see it time and time again from here on. D'oh!!!
A Shady Character
For a 22 year old TV show the video quality is surprisingly good and holds its own even against more recent fair. Originally shot with 35mm film in a 4:3 aspect ratio, the transfer of each episode looks as good as you can expect with some very clean and sharp imagery. Colors may seem a little muted but that's probably the 80s for you and black levels are good if not great. Certainly they could have been tweaked post telecine but in staying true to what was originally shot and aired this is a fine looking presentation.
The one big gripe here though is the video quality for the 1991 movie Knight Rider 2000 is is pretty ordinary. Sharpness is lost, grain is prevalent, shadow detail is pretty poor and the compression seems rushed, almost squeezed in to fit on disc 8 with the last remaining episode of the series. Whilst not exactly one of the episodes itself, a little more care couldn't have gone astray.
On the audio side, everything seems ok on the surface but the further you go in, the more you notice changes in sound levels during conversations that is noticeable and annoying. It is evident that looping has been employed throughout the series, even confirmed in the commentary, but some of it seems to have been done at different levels to the complimenting person within the conversation. It's noticeable enough to be disconcerting. Outside of this blemish the rest of the audio is fine in its faux stereo guise (mono across 2 channels).
There is a nice collection of extras available and spread across each disc. It would have been nice to have them on one disc as it becomes annoying having to swap discs to get to a particular extra. Each disc has an extras sub menu listing ALL the extras available and on which disc, which is helpful in know where to find what you are looking for.
K.I.T.T. - Knight Industries Two Thousand
The main feature is the audio commentary on the pilot episode Knight of the Phoenix provided by David Hasselhoff and show creator Glen A. Larson. This is a great commentary where nary a frame goes by without something of interest being pointed out. This is scene specific and frame accurate as one person speaks, the other is reacting to what is on screen by either laughing at something comical or pointing out a particular tidbit in a hurry before the scene changes.
There are further little short featurettes such as Knight Moves taking a look at the stunts of the series and getting K.I.T.T. to do what he does best. Knight Sounds focuses on the theme music and its breakdown, it's populatiry and its use in contemporary rap music of today. The longer of the features is Knight Rider: Under the Hood which features interviews with Hasselhoff, series creater Larson and a collection of others to cover all aspects of the show from conception to casting to stunts to music to phenomenon.
A Photo Gallery plays with background theme music and a Blueprints Gallery showcases sketches of props and scenes used throughout the series. Both short and padded. The K.I.T.T. Owners Manual is an interesting interactive feature that shows the cars interior dash with a swag of the buttons selectable. Each selection reveals a small pop-up of the feature and what it does. Cute.
K.I.T.T. + K.A.R.R. = C.H.I.C.K.E.N.
As far as TV shows go, for this reviewer, it didn't get any cooler back in the 80's. Hasselhoff became an overnight star and pin-up boy which also helped with the success of his 90's venture in Babewatch. When you look at the other works that creator Glen A. Larson was Producer for, you realise he was the Aaron Spelling of 80's cheese TV with the likes of the Six Million Dollar Man, Magnum P.I., Battlestar Galactica, The Fall Guy and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
Despite being ahead of its time back then, its just pure cheese now. In fact, there's so much cheese, it deserves free home delivery. Grab yourself a copy and ham it up!