Knight Rider: Journey to the End of the Knight

Knight Rider, NBC, Airs Wednesday 8/7c

Episode: “Knight of the Zodiac” (Season 1, Episode 8)

Synopsis: Mike must infiltrate a group of thieves intending to rob millions of dollars from a Las Vegas casino. KITT saves the day using his super-advanced, “wow me” futuristic, “aw naw that is just too awesome”… headlights. HEADLIGHTS!!

Review: I keep expecting that one week I’m going to start a Knight Rider review by saying, “Surprisingly, this week’s episode was actually pretty good.” I keep anticipating a review where I have to wonder if I’ve fallen prey to some sort of episodic television Stockholm Syndrome. I actually have that review already written out in my head, minus the plot details. I talk about the show being inexcusably stupid, but still entertaining. The showrunner for Knight Rider is, after all, the mastermind behind the Fast and the Furious film series. And while I thought The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift was enormously stupid, I had a blast watching that film.

So far, I have not even come close to having that experience with Knight Rider. And since I’m on the wagon now, I’ve had to watch the past few episodes completely sober. Which is a chore.

The people writing this show aren’t even good enough to be called hacks. Hacks have tricks. A hack at least has some sort of skill, even if his or her creative originality is limited, and frequently recycled.

If someone told me that Knight Rider was helmed entirely by seventeen-year-olds, I might say, “Well, they show some talent, but they have a long way to go.”

Consider this:

At one point, Mike has to park KITT in front of a Las Vegas hotel. KITT begs Mike to not allow him to be parked by a valet. He complains that valets generally drive him roughly and rummage through his various “compartments.” Mike says he has no choice. We watch as Mike hands KITT’s keys to a valet, and the valet gets in the car.

From here, a writer has a choice. You can either give the viewer exactly what he or she is expecting, or you can try to turn that expectation on its ear and give the viewer something wholly unexpected. As a viewer, I’m expecting that the valet will behave exactly as KITT predicted he would, and then KITT will use some of his futuristic gadgets to put the valet in his place. Or maybe we get something else. The valet starts to drive KITT to a parking space and he gets a call on his cell phone. Maybe his girlfriend is breaking up with him. Perhaps KITT in that moment can’t resist speaking with the valet about his failed relationship, and we get a beautiful moment where KITT bonds with a stranger.

But what do the writers of Knight Rider give us?

The valet parks the car. Cut. Next scene.

Or how about this:

Mike has infiltrated a group looking to steal millions of dollars from a Las Vegas casino. The ring leader is head of security for the casino they intend to rob. Mike finds out he’s about to be fired. When speaking with an FBI agent at headquarters, he wonders if maybe the ring-leader’s goal isn’t to foil the plot so he’s viewed as a hero to the hotel, and gets to keep his job. The FBI agent says (essentially), “No, it’s too simple. There has to be something more going on here!”

Guess what? There’s nothing more going on. By the end of the episode it’s revealed that Mike’s theory was exactly correct.

Assholes. I swear, it’s like the show is written by a bunch of monkeys with down syndrome.

This is essentially a “heist” episode. We get to see the heist planned and executed, and the writers are trying to mimic the classic heist formula, but it’s all bullshit. I was tempted to write one sentence of this review and then immediately launch into a lengthy deconstruction of the heist genre, from Rififi to the present, and at the end simply say that Knight Rider this week, as usual, sucked balls. I didn’t do that only because I was afraid someone might accuse me of not actually watching the show. And if I’m going to suffer through watching this shit, I want to make sure it’s clear in my review that I took that bullet.

At what point in the run of this show might we expect that the car that’s supposed to be so central to the story will actually… do something? KITT does nothing useful in this episode except communicate information to Mike–information that could have been looked up on Google, no less. KITT is nothing more than a laptop with wheels.

“Mike, I am looking up the bad guy’s MySpace page. Perhaps you should mention that you are a big fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He should warm to you immediately.”

In the end, KITT must rescue Mike from a darkened warehouse, where the main bad guy has donned night vision goggles and stalks our hero with a pistol. KITT busts through a wall and… turns on his headlights! This blinds the bad guy and saves the day. And it’s not like KITT got there on his own. The whole time, Billy’s behind the wheel, tracking Mike’s location. So basically, our superbadassZOMG piece of advanced technology accomplished a feat that I could have mimicked with my ten-year-old Toyota 4Runner.

Also–”Knight of the Zodiac?” So the writers have given up finding phrases and pop songs that use the word “night.” They’re so desperate now that they’re willing to settle for any word that has the same long “i” sound (sign of the Zodiac).

Damn you, Knight Rider. Damn you to hell.

For more coverage of your favorite shows, check out the Control Freaks Archive.

Did you watch Knight Rider this week? If so, feel free to discuss below.


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