Tuesday, February 19, 2008

THE RETURN OF KITT: TO HAL AND BACK

Against my better judgement, I watched the new version of 'Knight Rider' - despite the reviews I read online from "The Medium Is Not Enough" and "TVSquad" (links to the left). After all, I have to fulfill my duties as a televisiologist!

One thing that I gained out of the experience, I got to try out NBC's "hulu" and its online content. Not a bad system.

Okay, so if this TV movie of 'Knight Rider' wins any Toobit Awards at the end of the year (Sequel, Movie, Comeback Character), it will probably be by default. Still and all, there were several items of note for Toobworld:

THE LINK TO 'LAS VEGAS'


When Sarah and KITT met up with Mike Traceur in Las Vegas, he was at the Montecito casino hoping to gamble his way to a big payday in order to save his friend. Not only does this link those two shows together, but also to 'Crossing Jordan', 'Heroes', 'Medium', 'The Office', 'Passions', and 'Bewitched'. While they still have those huge casino sets at their disposal, the network might as well use them to get the most synergistic value out of them.

THE RETURN OF MICHAEL KNIGHT

Hard to watch the Hoff without thinking of him writhing on the floor with a hamburger or sobbing his eyes out at some reality show competition, but there had to be some little thrill in the hearts of those geeks who loved the original to see him come back at the very end of the movie.

Too bad the original KITT couldn't be with him, but it looks like the Two Thousand got cannibalized for parts. (It would have been nice to hear the voice of William Daniels one last time as KITT, but the producers probably were afraid Val Kilmer would suffer in comparison.

VAL KILMER SUFFERS IN COMPARISON
Is there a word for automotive lobotomies? I've seen comparisons to the HAL 9000 of "2001: A Space Odyssey", but not in a good way. I half expected to hear KITT break out in a Quaalude-induced rendtion of "Daisy" at any moment.

I wasn't looking forward to Will Arnett in the role of KITT either, but he had to have been better than Kilmer.

You know who I'd cast? Maybe I've got DCI Gene Hunt on the brain, but Philip Glenister's bluster would have been an interesting choice for the vocal chops! Less snarky and more forthright with the insults, a real tiger in the tank when it came to attitude under the hood.

MIKE TRACEUR
What a horrible last name for the main character. It looks ugly, the supposed allusion doesn't make much sense. It's pronounced "Tracer" so it may as well be spelled that way.

It would have been obvious, - not that subtlety was on the mind of the creators - but I think they should have followed the same theme as they did with Michael Knight. Now that Mike is working for the Foundation, they should have provided him with a new alias; and one that had its roots in Michael Knight's last name.

Mike Ronin. Or Mike Paladin. Mike Armour. Something like that.

BRUCE DAVISON
I could be wrong, (It wouldn't be the first time!), but I don't think Charles Graiman ever was mentioned before in the 'Knight Rider' "history". However, it was fine with me so long as they had Bruce Davison to play the role. I've been a fan of his work ever since he first scared me as a kid with "Willard". (My favorite of his roles? In the adaptation of Ursula K. LeGuin's "The Lathe Of Heaven".)

EVEN WITH A GPS, KITT WAS "LOST"
KITT: "An outside source is hacking my system with surprising efficiency. They will have full control in 23 seconds....."

The numeral "23" is part of the sequence that adds up to "108" and which will save the world, according to the beliefs of the DHARMA Initiative on 'Lost'. And as demonstrated many times before, those numbers are universal in Toobworld, no matter what the show or network.

CROSSIN' WITH THE BLIPVERTS
Of course, with the new KITT being based on a Ford, the car company was a major advertiser for the movie's premiere. (Surprisingly, my online experience had only one sponsor - Gillette. Over and over and over again. It made me want to grow a beard.)

Just about all of the commercials were for the new Ford Focus. And most of those featured Justin Bruening as his character of Mike Traceur out on the town - making KITT very jealous.
Val Kilmer's monotone got its best presentation with the delivery of a line in the blipverts instead of in the movie. At one point during "The Date", it phoned in to Mike in order to ask the blonde hottie, "Would you like to ride in me? I have keyless entry."

I'm changing my earlier opinion. This series of ads may in fact end up winning the Toobit for Best Commercial Crossover!

Within the movie, there was a nice throwback to probably the greatest PSA in the history of Television. KITT displayed Iron Eyes Cody and that single tear drop on his cheek when it was lecturing Mike about littering.

TOUCHSTONES & DEVON MILES
The late Wilton Knight was name-checked, as was the Foundation, which Charles Graiman was going to revive. That would be the Foundation for Law and Government (FLaG), which in theory was also responsible for the Flag Formula used to transform Steve Rogers into Captain America.

It's a popular theory among televisiologists that Wilton Knight was related to Mrs. Emma Knight Peel, who inherited Knight Industries. I believe he was her uncle.

But where was mention of Devon Miles? We last saw him in Toobworld in 2000, when he was involved with 'Knight Rider 2000'. However, that was set in an alternate timeline for Toobworld in which guns have been outlawed and criminals have been cryogenically frozen.

What happened to the Devon Miles of the main Toobworld?

I'm afraid he's now dead as well, mirroring the fate of Edward Mulhare, the actor who played him. Mulhare passed away a decade ago, and the Devon Miles of Earth Prime-Time could have died at any point after 1986.

I'd hate for the role to be recast with some other actor and thus defile the memory of Mulhare as Devon. Again, I'm still O'Bsessed with the series finale of 'Life On Mars', but Philip Glenister as the Foundation's go-between could go from zero to sixty in the decorum department if the situation required it. Polite one moment, punching some guy's lights out the next.


SUMMING UP....
All in all, I got my money's worth watching it online, at least as far as Toobworld goes. If 'Knight Rider' goes to series, I won't be tagging along for the ride; only popping in now and again if there's some kind of crossover with other NBC shows.

Which makes me wonder..... if there was a crossover with 'Heroes', what would NBC do with regards to Ford vs. Nissan?

BCnU!
Toby OB

1 comment:

MediumRob said...

I thought I was quite generous to it. It was escapist daftness and there's nothing essentially wrong with that.

Traceur is a daft name but then it's French and means to trace or draw or - wait for it - to go fast. I'm minded of Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct or the various characters of Dickens and Kingsley's 'Water Babies'. Almost. Or maybe they're going for a parkour vibe.

You're right that Charles Gaiman was never mentioned in the old show. But the pilot episode of the old show was - bar the family friendly bits - quite hard edged. The idea of one man developing a car for an industrialist, a car that was supposedly a quantum leap but a progression from his existing work, was a bit implausible back then since everyone knew that cars were designed by teams, which is what was depicted in the original show.

Of course, you can argue that Gaiman created the AI, but features such as turbo boost, etc, were the works of the other members of the team which is why they weren't in the 3000; Gaiman was obviously more of a computer scientist and engineer than chemist so equally the molecular bonded shell was probably another department's piece of work (and indeed several people were shown to have parts of the formula for the shell).

PS You know, as I saw the Montecito pop up on screen, I thought of you Tobes, because I knew you'd pick up on that instantly.