Television remakes, much like their big screen counterparts are always delicate areas for a creative team to tread. When it's done right you get instant classics like "Battlestar Galactica," or "The Office." However, there are certain remakes best left forgotten ("Coupling" anyone?). This 2008 reboot of "Knight Rider" won't horrify you with awfulness, but at the same time makes no effort to try and entertain you.
The biggest hurdle this remake has to overcome is its beloved, but honestly cheesy source material. The original "Knight Rider" was a fun show for sure, but trying to rehash what is largely a talking car gag 20 odd years later is no easy feat. There's no law written that a cheesy show can't be remade into something meaningful and serious, "Battlestar Galactica" proves that to be false several times over and it's somewhat apparent the creators of this new "Knight Rider" thought they could do the same thing. The pilot film launched in 2008 really takes the whole affair quite seriously. Gone is William Daniels' beloved K.I.T.T (Knight Industries Two Thousand); in its place, is the new Ford Mustang K.I.T.T (Knight Industries Three Thousand) voiced by Val Kilmer. Kilmer's casting is quite inspired as he brings the unintentionally comical (at times) straight man role to the table. The original choice for the new K.I.T.T was Will Arnett and I shudder to think of how a comedian would have faired in a show that was goofy enough, without obvious jokes.
K.I.T.T is joined by our new Michael Knight, Mike Traceur (Justin Bruening), creator Dr. Charles Graiman (Bruce Davison), daughter and romantic interest of Mike, Sarah (Deanna Russo). If that seems like a large cast, think twice, because there are four additional, notable supporting characters. The overcasting aspect of the reboot highlights one of its fundamental flaws: trying to do too much too fast. "Knight Rider" should be able to draw in viewers on the simple basis of an AI car and slick, leading man. Bruening comes off as a disposable element largely due to being forced into multiple character interactions, often all in the same 42-minute episode. The creators may have realized this and attempted to rectify the problem with some major shakeups mid-season, but it ends up being too little, too late.
Jumping back to my earlier comment regarding the serious tone of the pilot, the visual look of the show deserves to be addressed. Everything looks polished and new in the world of this show and that artificial look caries over throughout the series. The viewer is never allowed to suspend his or her disbelief long enough and the end result is a series that at times reeks of being a giant Ford commercial. The end product presented here is a prime example of a mediocre remake. The packaging correctly advertises this as being the first season, but recently news got out that it would not be renewed for a second. I can't say I would have watched a second season, despite at the last minute the show giving some hope of showing a soul, but as it stands here, 2008's K.I.T.T and Mike will just end up being forgotten.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is above average, but lacking compared to shows like "LOST." Detail is strong for the most part, but some digital grain pops up more than a few times. The commercialized color palette is accurately reproduced and unfortunately that only goes to further the artificial look of the show.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 English audio track is well balanced and ranges from front-heavy dialogue scenes with background noise mixed in just enough to try and bring you into the scene. The track gives your system the best workout during an action scene, which frequently features swooping audio as the camera pans past KITT. English subtitles for the hearing impaired are included.
The pilot movie is listed as a bonus feature, despite it's necessity in the set for the viewer to make any sense of what's going on; the set's sole commentary track is featured alongside the pilot, but it's largely the principal cast and crew justifying their work. Aside from that, there are three featurettes, "Icon Reborn," "KITT: From 2000 to 3000," and "Knight Rider Legacy." They are highly promotional in tone and feature lots of footage and talking heads interviews. Those unfamiliar with the original series may find them a bit more useful though. The final extra is a mildly amusing gag reel.
This overly slick reboot blasts from the starting gate and plots a solid course through eighteen largely mediocre episodes. There are times you'll be honestly entertained, but for the most part you'll be left thinking, "is that it?" Chances are a year from now, I'd be hard pressed to remember much of this series; bottom line, don't waste your time. Skip It.