Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Knight Rider was a popular US 1980s television show. It starred David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight, a kind of modern-day 'knight' who drove an advanced smart car with artificial intelligence. Conceived and produced by Glen A. Larson, the show was an instant hit and inspired a subgenre of high-tech crimefighter series.
In the pilot episode, undercover police officer Michael Long was seriously injured by a gunshot wound to the head. His medical care was taken over by the Foundation for Law and Government (FLAG), a private crime-fighting organization founded by dying millionaire philanthropist Wilton Knight. Given a new face via plastic surgery, Michael Long was resurrected as Michael Knight. Together with a high-tech automobile called KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand), Michael set out to carry on Wilton Knight's crime-fighting work. Michael was usually given mission objectives by the new director of FLAG, Wilton's best friend, Devon Miles.
Michael Knight was an old-fashioned hero, a modern knight, fearless and temperate, who avoided unnecessary violence and refrained from using firearms. Most episodes featured a conventionally attractive young woman (on one occasion, Geena Davis in an early role), usually in need of Knight's help; the women often fell in love with him. As with The A-Team, Knight found that the demands of justice prevented him from staying in one town from episode to episode.
David Hasselhoff plays a double role in the Season 2 episodes entitled "Goliath" and "Goliath Returns" as both Michael Knight and as Garthe Knight, Wilton's son. At the time of Michael Knight's surgery, Garthe was in a prison in Africa. Wilton Knight wanted to replace his son and had Michael Knight's face modeled after Garthe's.
KITT was, for many, the star of the show. The car boasted artificial intelligence of a high enough level to reason, talk, and indeed deliver sardonic one-liners to Michael Knight as an equal. KITT could drive itself when Michael was otherwise engaged, keeping in contact via a wrist communicator (disguised as a watch). KITT's chassis was resistant to most known weapons below heavy artillery, was capable of quickly accelerating to over 200 mph (322 km/h); furthermore, the car featured numerous other special abilities, the most notable being a frequently-used 'turbo boost' for jumping over obstacles. Several episodes saw new technical gadgets added to KITT's repertoire, which was subsequently used to rescue Michael and KITT from some perilous situation.
KITT was the second robot car developed by FLAG. The first, named KARR (Knight Automated Roving Robot), was built without the directive for protection of human life (see Three Laws of Robotics) that KITT possessed. KARR fell into the wrong hands and served as KITT's Doppelganger during several sweeps episodes.
KITT was enhanced greatly in the show's final season. After KITT's body was severely damaged by an enemy battering ram, it was rebuilt with the help of RC3 (Peter Parros ) and his friends. While they were not able to restore the car's depleted armour, they added a 'super pursuit mode', whose faster speeds were made possible by retractable airfoils, an 'emergency braking system' to either slow the car down or stop it from these high speeds, and a 'convertible mode' to turn the car into a convertible. Many fans viewed these changes as unnecessary, and interest in the show dropped considerably.
Debuting in 1982, the show was an instant hit, and inspired several other 'crimefighter plus high-tech vehicle' series, such as Airwolf, Viper , and Streethawk. Its ratings began to decline in 1985, and the 1986 season was the last. Several attempts at reviving the series have been made. In 1991, a TV-movie entitled Knight Rider 2000 reunited the original cast for the last time and its plot included Devon Miles being murdered (Edward Mulhare, who played Devon, has since died, himself). Another movie, Knight Rider 2010 (1994) was only loosely based upon the series, this time with the spirit of a young woman becoming the basis for the car's intelligence. Team Knight Rider , an adventure series taking place years after the events of the original series, lasted for one season in 1997-98. In 2004, David Hasselhoff announced plans for a big-screen version of Knight Rider in which he will appear - but not necessarily as Michael Knight.
Knight Rider was David Hasselhoff's first major television role and, although many people watched the show purely for KITT, it established him as a popular star. He achieved even greater fame in the worldwide syndicated hit Baywatch.
The fondly-remembered theme music, written by series producer Glen A. Larson and Stu Phillips (who also scored several episodes), was sampled for two 1997 hit singles: Busta Rhymes' "Fire it Up" and Timbaland & Magoo's "Clock Strikes [Remix]". Several other artists, including the alternative metal band System of a Down's 'I-E-A-I-A-I-O' from 'Steal this Album', have sampled the tune as well.
Knight Rider was turned into a computer game in 1986 for several popular 8-bit formats, although it only received a partial release. In the modern era, Knight Rider the Game was produced by Davilex International under license. Players drive KITT through 15 missions. With the popularity of Knight Rider the Game, Davilex also released a sequel in late 2004.
The show's first season was released on DVD in North America during the summer of 2004. The second season was released on April 12, 2005.
Cast and credits
- Michael Knight : David Hasselhoff
- Voice of KITT : William Daniels
- Devon Miles : Edward Mulhare
- Bonnie Barstow : Patricia McPherson - 1982-1983 then 1984-1986
- April Curtis : Rebecca Holden - 1983-1984
- RC3 - Reginald Cornelius III : Peter Parros - 1985-1986
- Producer : Glen A. Larson
William Daniels was one of the stars of St. Elsewhere - Dr. Mark Craig - and worked on both series simultaneously.
Bonnie Barstow (Patricia McPherson ) was KITT's mechanic during the first season; when McPherson left the show, April Curtis (Rebecca Holden ) became the mechanic for the second season. McPherson returned for the third and fourth seasons.
Wilton Knight was played in the pilot by Richard Basehart.
The cars KARR and KITT were modified Pontiac Trans Ams. The Trans Am body is designed for speeds up to 300 mph, meaning the airfoils in KITT's super pursuit mode airfoils are uneccessary. A Trans Am with totally standard body proved this at Bonneville during speed week.
KITT's red scanner was a carryover from Glen A. Larson's previous television series, Battlestar Galactica.
The opening title narration (used from "Good Day At White Rock" - season 1 onwards) was spoken by Richard Basehart:
- Knight Rider. A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist. Michael Knight, a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the powerless, the helpless, in a world of criminals who operate above the law.
- Knight Rider Online - Oldest Knight Rider site. Includes episode guide, FAQ and message board
- Knight Rider: the web site - KnightRider.org, your complete source of all things pertaining to the Knight Rider Universe.
- IMDB - Information on Knight Rider in the Internet Movie Database
- Knight Rider dashboard project - Accurate renderings of KITT's dash
- Knight Rider Theme Tune
- biggest German Fansite about Knight Rider - Includes episode guide, special German Backgrounds and downloads
- The Knight Rider Car
- Psychological Roots of Knight Rider
- Joe F. Huth & Richie F. Levine (2002). Knight Rider Legacy: The Unofficial Guide to the Knight Rider Universe. Writers Club Press. ISBN 0-595-23910-2.
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