There was a lot of high-concept television in the 1980s and quite possibly the most iconic of them all is Knight Rider. Created by Glen A. Larson, the show sees David Hasselhoff’s Michael Knight travelling across the USA righting-wrongs assisted by a futuristic Pontiac Trans Am named KITT (voiced by William Daniels).
Running from 1982–1986 across 90 episodes, Knight Rider was an updated version of The Lone Ranger, with the car acting as s surrogate version of Silver and Tonto. Larson was once called ‘Glen Larceny’ by writer Harlan Ellison for his lack of originality, however his impact on television is undeniable. Just look at this list of some of the shows he created: Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Quincy, M.E., The Fall Guy, Magnum, P.I. and of course Knight Rider.
Knight Rider has dated, but what TV show wouldn’t after nearly forty years? The effects might not be as cutting edge as they were in the early 1980s, but they still work within the confines of the show and the world around it. You also can’t deny that the theme tune is still a masterwork. Composed by Stu Phillip and Larson, it’s a piece of music which still endures, having been sampled and reused countless times over the decades.
Knight Rider made a star out of David Hasselhoff and while he is now a source of amusement for many with his ‘Hoff’ persona (Don’t Hassle The Hoff etc), Knight Rider illustrates that he was once a viable leading man. He was able to sell the far-fetched elements of the show’s plot, making his relationship with KITT come across as believable (no easy feat). He would go on to have further success with Baywatch, but his work in Knight Rider has much more resonance.
Throughout the series Hasselhoff’s Michael Knight has support from the extended Knight Rider team of Edward Mulhare, Peter Parros, Rebecca Holden and Patricia McPherson, but William Daniels’ KITT is the one that stands-out. It’s a wonderful piece if voice-over casting and his tones helped make the show so iconic
A fantastic slice of 1980s television, Knight Rider may not be for everyone, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth watching!
This DVD release of Knight Rider from Fabulous Films comes loaded with extras. The pilot episode (Knight of the Phoenix) features a commentary with David Hasselhoff and writer/creator Glen Larson, while you also get the featurettes: Knight Moves, Knight Rider: Under The Hood, The Great 80s TV Flashback and photo galleries. Brilliant.