With the closing of Magical Mounts month and recent press over the Confederate Flag, the famous car, General Lee of Dukes of Hazzard has seen some press lately I decided to focus on a far superior 1980s car…. The Knight Industries Two-Thousand, KITT, from Knight Rider.
Knight Rider was a staple of the 80’s Prime-time action car chase show market. Like Dukes of Hazzard, BJ and the Bear, and Starsky and Hutch, a seasonable amount of money was being made from driving up and down roads, jumping ramps, and flipping cars end over end. Rollbars got perfected, stuntmen made nice amounts of money every week, and practical effects got prettier. The toys were just as important. Hot Wheels made huge profits with circuits that glowed in the dark, shot up walls, ran upside down in multiloops, and many of their products were show-sponsored by any of the 80’s car chase market. And the most powerful part of any stuntman’s list of skills was the ability to drive a car on two wheels.
or as the luckiest man to run up and down the beach with red swim-suited lifeguards…(Still waiting by the phone for you, Yasmine Bleeth).
But before that, David Hasselhoff was Michael Knight.
Michael was cool because he had a leather jacket. Michael was cool because his hair was so permed, it never moved. Michael was cool because he was a lone wolf, solving the day with the informational help of Patricia McPherson as Dr. Bonnie Barstow like a modern Green Arrow getting help from Felicity Smoak. But most importantly, Michael Knight was cool because he got to drive the Knight Industries Two-Thousand, most commonly known as KITT. Here is the opening, and while the title might accidentally imply otherwise, Edward Mulhare is not a baddie, but head of the Goodies. Warning: That Bass groove is really catchy. Try it in a car and see who chimes in.
KITT was voiced by William Daniels. Most of the younger Disney Generations might know his as the wonderfully brusque but caring Mr George Feeny, principal of the long-running Boy Meets World (Topanga was a heartthrob in many a Tiger Beat). William Daniels is also the father in the wonderful movie on growing up, The Graduate.
The car was a highly polished black 1982 Pontiac Trans-Am with a red light that whooshed back and forth. That red light started off on cylons, but was made iconic on the car. When Michael talked, they showed his face, but when KITT talked, they either showed his whooshing red light in external shots, ….or they showed these three audio bars inside the car because no one wanted to hang off the front of a moving car to film the outside of a red light bar.
But that light was iconic.
While the two popular chase shows of Knight Rider and Dukes of Hazzard were neck-and-neck, Knight beat out Dukes for several reasons.
KITT was a companion, General Lee was a car.
KITT was an amazing professional passenger, The other Duke brother never waited in the car.
KITT never caught a speeding ticket while the Dukes were always running from Boss Hogg.
KITT had doors that worked and had windows. The Dukes did not.
KITT had techno-speak. Hazzards had… Daisy Duke.
As you can see, it was a tie.
KITT had an older better-looking brother, KARR, who gave him difficulties and was his general nemesis.(Mycroft and Sherlock have the same problem). Karr was a little more simple in his solving problems. He pushed opponents off cliffs. (This story line is retold also with Data in TNG).
Knight Rider was a show we in the 80’s enjoyed, a man and his car/horse, a modern western…and then the series dropped “Super Pursuit Mode” on us. Much like that time Robocop got all banged up in the second movie and they added 5-billion directives to him, KITT got into a bit of a scrape and got disassembled in the fourth season, only to be rebuilt by a Chicago street fighter(read that as chop shop) who decided we needed to add spoilers and wind resistance and crud and forget the classic lines of KITT in Super Pursuit Mode.
Video of the Transformation:
As you can see, there should have been more complaints about it. there probably were which is why Season 4 was Knight Rider’s last season. When you jump a shark with turbo boost and end up blocky, you kind of killed your show on your own.