Knight Rider: Season One (review)

All I remember is how awesome that car was. C’mon: I was a 13-year-old geek, and a benign Hal in a black Trans Am was too cool. But ohmigod, how deliciously, 80s-y awful is Knight Rider today! It’s like the unholy love child of two genres that filled the airwaves in the Carter and Reagan years: the anguished-lone-ranger stuff of The Incredible Hulk meets the crime-fighter-supported-by-the-reclusive-millionaire stuff of Magnum, P.I. Just listen to the throaty voiceover that accompanies the opening credits: “Knight Rider: a shadowy flight into the world of a dangerous man who does not exist. Michael Knight, a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the helpless, the powerless, in a world of criminals who operate above the law.” Never mind the contradictions — is it the world of a dangerous man, or the world of criminals? which criminals don’t operate above the law? — the cheesy, wonderful badness is irresistible. Michael (David Hasselhoff) is a former cop left for dead who was rebuilt, made better, and given K.I.T.T., the souped-up Trans Am, by Wilton Knight, a guy with way too much money and ambition (I’ve decided that what I need is a reclusive millionaire to take me under his wing and make me his private movie critic/crimefighter). Now — well, during the 1982-3 TV season this set covers — Michael walks alone, saving innocent little towns from biker gangs, protecting lady senators from murderous lobbyists, and crashing K.I.T.T. through fences and windows whenever he can. K.I.T.T. — whose dashboard Michael, in his glorious, goofy dopiness, likens to “Darth Vader’s bathroom” — gets to have fun, too, going up against military missile test ranges and his own evil twin, K.A.R.R. Well, Michael’s not quite alone: he has to contend with his handler, Devon (Edward Mulhare), with the snooty English accent and sissified habits, like croquet, that Michael can make fun of; and Bonnie (Patricia McPherson), the girl who takes care of the car, whom even the car hits on. Ewww.

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