Well after giving everyone nightmares yesterday with my post for the letter J and Jigsaw, I thought it would be apt to actually go for a programme called Knightmare today for K, but as I couldn’t STAND that programme (let’s put a kid in a freaky iron helmet so they can’t see???!) I’m not going to! Sorry, I know Knightmare has/had rather a cult following, but I thought it was utter crud! I know, I know, it was ‘way ahead of its time’, blah, blah, blah, but I just found the whole idea boring with a capital B. Weird considering I quite like Mediaevally type stuff.
So where am I taking you with K today? Well, it still begins with the word Knight…
Yes, you’ve guessed it. Today K is for…
“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 helpless, the powerless in a world of criminals who operate above the law. Michael Knight, a lone crusader in a dangerous world. The world of the Knight Rider.”
Or as I like to think of it…“An excuse to televise the adventures of a cool, sleek, black, talking car with a man called Michael Knight.” Let’s face it, K.I.T.T was the real star of Knight Rider and the programme makers’ back story of ‘The Foundation’ and Michael Knight’s re-constructive facial surgery was simply a way to give K.I.T.T some form of reason to exist and do his stuff! And ooooh that theme tune! Also a star. Unforgettable. Or should that be – unforkittable? Okay, perhaps not. Clearly the cheesiness has got to me – sorry.
Anyway, what I love (now at least) about ’80s action shows like Knight Rider was the fact that they were built around the absolute flimsiest of premises. No pretence, no fancy stuff. Just pure silly, action imagination. (And that’ll be why they would have appealed to us kids, I suppose.) But these days, no one invested in Netflix would tolerate it. People want deep and meaningfuls all over the place with complicated plot lines and characters with so much back-story that the back-stories have their own back story and spin off shows. Not in the 1980s. Oh no, the ’80s was a much simpler time. The back-story was simply there to hang off whichever cool gadget/vehicle you wanted to deploy: A helicopter in Airwolf; a van in The A Team, a talking car in Knight Rider. Er…a moonlighting Bounty-Hunter stunt man in The Fall Guy. Okay he had a stunt truck too. And this was all on prime time TV. Not shoved to Channel 874 of Freeview. This was real tele!
Of course, there was always a dash of female glamour in the guise of a ‘love interest’ for the main male character, in Knight Rider‘s case, the highly bouffanted and tight-jean wearing, David “The Hoff” Hasslehoff . The main characters were always fighting underground crimes in any which way they would choose (above the law usually – I really worry there were not enough police around in ’80s America. Probably all at The Academy, training.) And of course, their vehicles always took centre stage, but only Knight Rider‘s vehicle actually spoke and had its own personality. K.I.T.T really was, as I said, the star of Knight Rider, whatever the Germans may tell you with their love of The Hoff. As a kid, it was K.I.T.T (though I think I used to refer to K.I.T.T as Knight Rider, though obviously that was not the name of the car) and his awesome stunts we tuned in to watch, not to see if Michael Knight’s lothario ways would hit him the jackpot each episode or even if in doing so he’d defeat the baddies. That’s always very predictable, as I’ve moaned about before. The goodies always win. Sigh. 😉
What I never appreciated as a kid though, was just how bad some of the acting was in those shows. Especially in Knight Rider. Thanks to my brother’s DVD collection, Saturday tea times have seen us relive the ’80s recently with Knight Rider and it is only now I can appreciate how cheesy and ridiculous it was. David Hasslehoff is a legend, but for all the wrong reasons! It’s no longer the kool, kalm and kollected (see what I did there) K.I.T.T I enjoy watching (although his sarcastic asides are still pretty funny). It’s still not the storyline/plot I watch it for. No, nowadays it’s to see what ridiculous lines The Hoff will come out with and how cheesy his acting is!
One of my favourite episodes which we’ve re-discovered (oh and the 7 year old is loving Knight Rider too, by the way!) have been the ones with Garthe Knight in. Garthe Knight is an evil character, the son of Wilton Knight who re-constructed Michael Knight’s (was Michael Long) face in the pilot episode after he’d been shot. Only he, for some reason, reconstructed it as Garthe’s (who was in prison at the time. (Did I say there was no back story? Well you can see they had this idea a little later on, probably just because they thought it would be funny to have David Hasslehoff play a baddie and do all that tricky sticking shots together they used to do in the 80s.) So, Garthe appears in a couple of episodes and it is hilarious. The acting, that is! He uses whatever it is that makes K.I.T.T so strong to make a massive truck called Goliath. All round absolute nonsense, but The Hoff playing an evil character is absolutely the most hilarious thing. The only thing differentiating the characters of course, being Garthe’s tendency to carry around an umbrella, sport a goatie beard, adopt a gruff voice and wear a white suit!
But even this is not quite as hilarious as the cheesiness of an episode which evidently launched The Hoff’s music career, in which he has to go undercover as a rock star (don’t ask why, but there’s a woman involved), and then they sing this ridiculous duet at the end. I can’t explain it, so please watch it here and enjoy a good laugh and cringe. (Oh and check out those leather slacks!!)
Finally there’s the episode with the evil version of K.I.T.T – K.A.R.R! K.A.R.R has a sinister voice and everything and it is like the whole Garthe thing all over, but with the vehicle rather than the main character. Brilliant stuff.
Of course, being the 1980s, in LA, there is sunshine and scantily clad, stunning women with huge back-combed, hair-sprayed- to -within- an- inch -of- its- life – hair adorning the screen, and if not then there are high-powered, ball-breaking, massive shoulder pad wearing women everywhere. Or mechanics, in the case of Bonnie.
Teamed with a suave sophisticated, rich English bloke called Devon Miles heading all the shenanigans (rather like M in James Bond or Charlie in Charlie’s Angels,) Knight Rider had something for everyone and will always be one of my favourite shows growing up.