1 9 8 2 – 1 9 8 6 (USA)
84 x 60 minute episodes
The adventures of a rebuilt ex-cop called Michael Young and his incredible talking car, tailor-made for David (The Young and the Restless) Hasselhoff – later to reach the pinnacle of his fine acting career in Baywatch.
There were babes, guns, fights and plenty of action, and the show was popular with kids, heterosexual women and folks who understood it was not meant to be taken completely seriously.
In the first episode, Hasselhoff’s character was rescued from death and disfigurement by dying millionaire Wilton Knight who bequeathed the cop his name (Michael Knight), a plastic face, tight jeans, a mission to protect world peace and . . . a supercar that could talk. The Knight Industries Two Thousand (KITT).
Basically a black 1982 Pontiac Trans Am with optional extras from hell, such as a cruising speed of 300mph, more armaments than most third-world countries and the ability to jump 50 feet into the air.
The speed of the car was incredible – every time there was an internal shot, the car was always accelerating! The bloody thing never seemed to reach maximum speed. And like every American TV show ever, the tyres would screech even on dirt roads.
The best part was that the car could speak and had a distinct (somewhat truculent) personality. Although the car was completely obnoxious, it was fiercely protective of old plastic face and would drive through anything to protect him. Emmy-Award-winning actor William Daniels gave KITT his voice.
Universal obtained prototypes of the vehicle from GM in order to boost publicity before its release. Later, GM requested that Universal no longer referred to the car as a Trans AM due to an overwhelming number of customers waiting to buy the “Knight Rider” version of the car.
As luck would have it, the wealthy industrialist Knight also left Hasselhoff a fortune to finance the Foundation for Law And Government (FLAG) mission, along with a mansion HQ and a loyal underling, Devon.
Car maintenance was provided by Bonnie Barstow, April Curtis and black homeboy, Reginald Cornelius III – or RC3.
The original idea of the computerised car first appeared in ‘Cain’s Cruiser’ – a 1979 episode of the series BJ and the Bear where it was designed as an adversary for trucker BJ – and was then developed into what became a four-season run on NBC between 1982 and 1986 for Knight Rider.
The show also became an international hit (the title translated as “Super Car” in some countries).
Though the gimmick of the series was the car, much of the show’s appeal was due to Hasselhoff. The tall, handsome former soap-opera star joked and kidded with his computerised car, and his tight jeans, wavy hair and laid-back style made women melt.
Hasselhoff re-created the role in a 1991 made-for-TV movie, Knight Rider 2000.
A short-lived sequel – Team Knight Rider – aired for one season in 1997 and 1998.
David Hasselhoff was admitted to hospital in October 2007 to be treated for alcoholism, four months after a judge ordered him not to drink alcohol as part of a custody dispute with his ex-wife, Pamela Beach.
Reginald Cornelius III (RC3)
Voice of KITT