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Knight Rider 2000 on DVD

Monday, 19 June 2017 17:35

Knight Rider 2000 out on DVDIn the year 1991, when this pilot movie was from, the year 2000 was the future. Guns are banned and criminals are sent to cryo-prison where they are frozen for the duration of their sentences, to many, this doesn’t seem like much of a punishment. When the mayor is murdered with an illegal handgun, thought destroyed as part of dis-arming the Police, Michael Knight (David Hasselhoff) is brought out of retirement by Devon Miles (the late, great Edward Mulhare) to fight for justice one last time in “Knight Rider 2000”.

Michael returns to find KITT has been dismantled and the parts sold for medical research uses. Devon manages to recover all of KITT’s interior parts except one computer chip. The body is long gone, so KITT is rebuilt and installed in Michael’s classic 1957 Chevy. Michael teams up with former female cop Shawn McCormick (Susan Norman – later the character of Susan Buckman Merrick in Parenthood) who was shot in the head and now has the missing chip belonging to KITT embedded in her brain. With the help of KITT (once again voiced by William Daniels - as in the original series), Michael and Shawn must uncover the conspiracy in the Police Department.

This was a pilot movie for a proposed new series. Despite high ratings, that new run of episodes was never made. The original Knight Rider was made his own by star David Hasselhoff, but come 1991 he was well into his Baywatch era, so there could be no plans at all for him to be part of the ongoing series. However, his role in this pilot is far from a cameo – he is central to the action, and him working alongside Edward Mulhare as his previous boss Devon Miles makes this more a reunion movie than the revamp it should have been.

Carmen Argeniano (Jacob Carter / Selmak in Stargate SG-1) plays the replacement for Devon, a shady shark called Russell Maddock who heads up the company bidding to get their new tool in law enforcement onto the road. He also provides the original voice of the ‘Knight 4000’ - showing the size of his character’s ego. The fact is, as one of the proposed leads of the new series, despite some minor redemption by the end of the movie, he’s not actually a likable character.

Eugene Clark plays Officer Kurt Miller (previously Colby Burns in Night Heat, later Sid Gomez in Tek War), and Megan Butler is Officer Marla Hedges (later an uncredited Lieutenant in the pilot of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine).

Mitch Pileggi (before he was Skinner in The X-Files) is the villain of the piece, ex-con Thomas J Watts, pulling the strings of the evil that is unfolding.

James ‘Mr Scott’ Doohan makes a cameo appearance - KITT mistakes him for a crook stealing money from a cash machine, which leads to the ‘actor’ Doohan being zapped and spouting a succession of cliché-ridden lines from Star Trek. It is probably the most cringe-worthy cameo in television history, the rest of the cast flagging up who he is and where the lines he is uttering gave come from.

The studio had visions of being ‘cutting edge’ with its choice of vehicle for what would be the continuation show’s four-wheeled star. However, it was unable to secure the real life Pontiac Banshee IV concept car, so instead hired Jay Ohrberg Star Cars Inc to customize a 1991 Dodge Stealth for the ‘Knight 4000’. The custom car can also be seen as a stolen supercar in “CHiPs ‘99” (1998, where Ponch and Baker are back on their cycles). It then appeared in the Black Scorpion pilot episode “Armed and Dangerous” (2001 – Roger Corman’s costumed detective), and was also seen as occasionally as a Police Car Land-Vehicle in Power Rangers: Time Force (2001). Its last known sighting was again as a police car in Scare Tactics (2003).

Let’s face it, for much of the show it’s Michael’s 1957 Chevy which has the voice of KITT we know, and whilst on paper this might have sounded a pretty neat idea, the joke wears thin very quickly, as this is no Pontiac Trans-Am as per the original series vehicle.

Also counting against the pilot getting picked up is that, regrettably, what would have been the central character of Shawn McCormick just didn’t have the persona to carry a series. More could have been made of the chip inside her head giving a direct link to the ‘Knight Industries 4000’ car (aka KIFT as the fans know it), but this was used as little more than a plot point instead of a driver (!) of quirky characterisation. You wanted her and the voice of William Daniels to be sparring in a far more snarky, ‘knowing’ way, with a bond of mutual respect entwined in it all. That just didn’t make it to screen, and you have to say the executives in smoke-filled rooms were quite right to pass on taking a full series of episodes.

The theme, “Knight Rider 2000” was by Jan Hammer, released on his 1994 album “Drive”, him best-known for the worldwide smashes which were the theme tune from Miami Vice and incidental track “Crockett’s Theme”.

Producer Justin Lin (who turned the once-flagging “Fast and Furious” film series in to a billion dollar franchise, and also directed 2016’s “Star Trek: Beyond”) is currently working on a digital Knight Rider reboot anticipated soon. The reboot is slated to premiere on YouTube's Machinima network.

Machinima CEO Chad Gutstein wrote in a statement: “Knight Rider is an iconic franchise whose concepts of AI and autonomous vehicles were science fiction in the 1980s and are now science fact. Justin is one of the leading storytellers of his generation and we couldn’t be more excited to work with him on re-invigorating Knight Rider for a new generation of fans”. We shall see if this ‘reimagined’ format will deliver the goods on a franchise which has so far failed to be given that magic dust within its numerous re-stagings.

“Knight Rider 2000” is out now from Fabulous Films / Fremantle Media Enterprises. It has a ‘12’ certificate, a running time of 95 minutes approx, and a RRP of £14.99, or get it for less at BY CLICKING HERE.




Last modified on Monday, 18 September 2017 17:38