Back in September 2007, NBC announced that they were going to (once again) revive Knight Rider, the popular action series from the 1980s. Despite having unsuccessfully attempted to revive KITT a couple times in the past, the peacock network wanted to give it another try. They were likely encouraged by the early success of their Bionic Woman reboot.
For the new movie, they cast hottie Justin Bruening as the son of Michael Knight (David Hasselhoff), created a new high-tech car (in a big marketing deal with Ford), and the movie was off and running. From the start, the new Knight Rider movie has been viewed as a backdoor pilot. If it performed well, a regular television series would follow.
The film aired last night and critical reception has been lukewarm at best. But more importantly, how did it perform in the ratings? Will we be seeing a new series?
Well, based on the overnight ratings, the movie kicked off at 9pm and attracted an average of almost 12.5 million, putting it in second place for the hour (bested by the second half of a two-hour Extreme Makeover: Home Edition). In the second hour, the audience grew to almost 13 million and it moved to first place for the hour. Most importantly, the movie was in first place with the all-important 18-49 demographic for both hours. NBC notes that the Knight Rider movie performed better than any network movie in almost three years.
These ratings are certainly a very good sign that we’ll see a new series next season. They’re not blockbuster numbers but they’re very good. If the series gets a greenlight, will viewers really want to watch Knight Rider on a weekly basis? Will yet another 1980s series revival prove to be a rerun of Bionic Woman’s failure or Battlestar Galactica’s success? Stay tuned!