Super-Vehicle Sunday: “Knight Rider”

The Knight Industries Two Thousand, aka KITT car was featured on "Knight Rider"

In the 1980s, it took one man and one car to get the job done.  

Airing on NBC from 1982 to 1986, Knight Rider starred David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight, a former cop who was killed during an undercover operation.  Reborn like the phoenix, he becomes a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of innocent, helpless and powerless people.  Employed by the Foundation for Law and Government (FLAG), Michael Knight has been given the world’s most fantastic car of the future: the Knight Industries Two Thousand, aka KITT (voice of William Daniels).  Chosen by Wilton Knight, Michael Knight proved that one man can make a difference in a dangerous world of criminals operating above the law.

Whether it be a helicopter (Airwolf), a motorcycle (Street Hawk), a truck (The Highwayman), a boat (Thunder in Paradise) and so on, Knight Rideris the founding father of the super-vehicle genre.  It spawned 1991’s Knight Rider 2000and 1994’s Knight Rider 2010, and the syndicated Team Knight Rider (1997-98) about five FLAG operatives taking on a new breed of outlaw with state-of-the-art vehicles.  Knight Rideralso gave way for Viper (1994, NBC; 1996-99, syndication) about a federal task force who fights crime, corruption and injustice with a sports car that morphs into the silver Defender.  

It was 2008 that Knight Rider was reborn with the continution of the legend in the form of a two-hour movie that aired on Sunday, February 17.  That fall, it became a weekly series airing on Wednesdays.  Picking up where the original left off, it focused on former Army Ranger Mike Traceur (Justin Bruening), the son of Michael Knight, and the new KITT (voice of Val Kilmer): the Knight Industries Three Thousand.  After taking itself seriously, the new Knight Riderdecided to go back to basics with the premise of Michael Knight as a knight in shining armor: a modern-day Lone Ranger with KITT as both his trusty steed Silver and his ever-faithful Tonto.  Together, they go from town to town, righting the wrongs of those who can’t help themselves.  Sadly, the new Knight Rideronly lasted one season.

Still, the shadowy flight of the original Knight Rider goes on thanks to reruns in syndication: showing once more that one man can make a difference.  

“Knight Rider” – Original Show Intro | NBC Classics