Have I ever mentioned how much I love Knight Rider? David Hasselhoff as the ultimate 80s lone wolf hero type, Mr. Feeny voices an AI car, plots right out of a comic book. What’s not to love?
Now, it seems that a reboot has all but been confirmed, possibly with James Gunn as director. The Hoff is involved in this reboot, and why shouldn’t he be? After all, he’s become something of a parody of himself lately, appearing in the Sharknado series, playing a mentor in the big screen adaptation of Baywatch, and making a humorous and well-foreshadowed cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. Not to mention winning gold for best line ever in a voice cameo for the crowdfunded Kung Fury (“Don’t hassle The Hoff!”).
But Internet Ignorance abounds with the potential reboot, so I wanted to add some thoughts here. Hopefully I’m not just adding to the cesspool already swirling out there. My goal is to be the voice of reason.
This is a reboot, not a spinoff or a sequel series. A spinoff series occurs parallel to the original series, with a different set of characters but a similar premise. Think The Bionic Woman. Or NCIS: Los Angeles. Or NCIS: New Orleans. These shows occasionally share actors playing the same characters (the two NCIS shows both feature Rocky Carrol as NCIS Director Leon Vance, a regular on the original NCIS), but spinoffs typically follow characters or concepts that appeared on and were incidental to the original show.
Team Knight Rider was halfway between a spinoff and a sequel series. It followed the same concept as the original show, but featured none of the original actors. Jenny Andrews was the daughter of Michael Knight and the vehicle teams worked for the Foundation for Law and Government, both of which connect this show to the original series.
The updated 2008 version of Knight Rider was a sequel series. In this case, Mike Traceur was the son of Michael Knight, and David Hasselhoff appeared to reprise his old role. Later in the run, Peter Cullen reprised his role from the original show, KITT’s evil twin KARR.
A reboot will wipe this slate clean. Nothing that happened in the past, happened. That means revised backstories, for sure. It means that the new car won’t be a next-generation version of KITT. Most importantly, it also means that we won’t see a 60+ year old Michael Knight fighting crime. Because…
In addition to recasting the primary roles, original actors will only make cameos. David Hasselhoff will be out as Michael Knight. William Daniels will not voice KITT. But William Daniels might play a computer programmer who worked on the source code for KITT’s AI. Or he might appear as a witness they question in a murder case. Personally, I vote for David Hasselhoff and William Daniels to play a supervillain duo in a two-part mid-season episode.
One of the comments I read on this topic suggested that The Hoff should play a Devin Myles-type character. While that wouldn’t stop me from watching the show, I cannot say loud enough what a bad idea I think that would be. Seeing an original actor from the TV series in that prominent of a role in the new series would just be too jarring. It would take the audience out of the story, the same way having Sean Connery play the elderly groundskeeper from Skyfall would have. The original plan was to do that, but the filmmakers ultimately decided against it for that reason–the same reason that Roger Moore wouldn’t have been tapped to play a villain as he famously declared he would love to do.
My goal with the piece was to clear the air, not muddy the waters. If I have managed to that, I can go to bed and sleep peacefully.