In light of their success with the reboot versions of Battlestar Galactica and Bionic Woman, NBC-Universal is overhauling yet another 1980s action-adventure series. Knight Rider is coming back to the peacock network, though it won’t feature the same old KITT.
Knight Rider premiered back on September 26, 1982 and ran for four seasons. The series starred David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight, a former police officer who has been given a new face and identity by the Foundation for Law And Government (FLAG). Acting like a chivalrous knight, Michael helps those in need with the assistance of KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand), a super computer running inside a high-tech black Trans Am. KITT is so advanced that it has artificial intelligence and frequently banters with Michael via the voice of actor William Daniels. Creator Glen A. Larson once said, “I wanted to do The Lone Ranger with a car — kind of a sci-fi thing, with the soul of a western.”
The original Knight Rider was cancelled primarily due to high production costs and dwindling ratings but the concept has been revived several times since 1986. In 1991, NBC aired Knight Rider 2000, a sequel movie in which Michael was given an updated car known as the Knight 4000. This was intended to be a pilot for a new series but it didn’t sell. In 1994, the network ran Knight Rider 2010 which had little to do with the original series and KITT was implanted in a 1969 Ford Mustang. In 1997, a spin-off TV series called Team Knight Rider debuted in first-run syndication. It ran for only 22 episodes and followed the adventures of six young crimefighters in several high-tech autos. Neither Hasselhoff or Daniels were part of the 1994 movie or new series.
Despite the lack of success of previous Knight Rider revivals, NBC wants to give it a fresh try. NBC-Universal is preparing to shoot a two-hour movie that will likely air some time this season on NBC — likely taking the place of Bionic Woman or Heroes reruns. Though TV movies have essentially become a thing of the past, the film will serve as a backdoor pilot for a new series. If the movie is successful, weekly episodes of the new Knight Rider could be on the air as early as next Fall.
The details of the show are still being worked out but it sounds like the concept of a modern-day knight fighting for justice in a futuristic car will essentially remain the same. The auto’s abilities however, will take a big leap forward and be “more than meets the eye.” Inspired by the recent revival of Transformers, KITT’s abilities will likely incorporate the ability to change shapes. It’s likely that there will be evil mechanical counterparts as well.
Considering NBC’s recent Heroes-Nissan partnership, a new version of Knight Rider seems ready-made for auto advertiser integration. So, it’s no surprise that preliminary talks are already rumored to be underway.
The new Knight Rider will be executive produced by Doug Liman and Dave Bartis (The O.C.) with Raines’ Dave Andron as writer and supervising producer. Liman, who previously helmed the Mr. & Mrs. Smith and The Bourne Identity action films, will direct if his schedule allows. No word if Hasselhoff or Daniels will be involved but, Liman says, “I’m interested in honoring television history in any way that I can.”
It’s also unknown what effect this new TV project will have on the plans for a Knight Rider feature film. The Weinstein Co. acquired the rights to the property from Larson in April with an eye on creating a new movie franchise. Stay tuned!