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If there’s one thing that many of the celebrities attending the San Diego Comic-Con didn’t prepare for, it’s traffic. Actor Ian McShane was absent from the panel for his new show Kings due to a backup on the freeway, and the same problem plagued nearly the entire cast of NBC’s Knight Rider. As the panel for the series kicked off at 11:45am, only actor Paul Campbell (Battlestar Galactica) and showrunner Gary Scott Thompson (Las Vegas) were present. Even with numerous cast members missing for the first 20 minutes of the presentation, including stars Justin Bruening and Deanna Russo, the two men kept things as amusing as possible by cracking jokes and imitating certain cast members.
While the people on stage were extremely entertaining, the same can’t be said for the Knight Rider trailer they unveiled. NBC’s new fall series looks to be filled with plenty of action, but if the cornball jokes and lame dialogue are any indication, KITT may need to be taken in for a tune-up.
If you weren’t a big fan of Knight Rider TV movie that aired back in February, the good news is that the show seems to be a completely different animal. Thompson had no involvement with the movie, and his first order of business when coming on board the series was to address the complaints from critics and fans. The characters will be more layered, the mythology will be deeper, and perhaps most importantly, KITT will have a turbo boost that allows it to jump great distances, just like in the original series. Sometimes it’s the little things that are truly important.
After going back and watching the entire first season of the original Knight Rider, Thompson said that he wanted to create a new mythology that would be somewhat similar to the ’80s series. On that show, Michael Knight was a man who had a new face, a new identity, and no option to go back to his normal life. In the updated series, Michael Traceur, played by Bruening, is an Iraq war vet who participated in dangerous black ops missions during his time in the military. Not only will the series explore what happened to Michael while he was in Iraq, but his past is destined to come back to haunt him. Thompson stated that his goal was to put Traceur in the same difficult situation that Knight faced, which will eventually force him to assume the identity of Michael Knight.
The other major difference between the Knight Rider movie and series is the cast. Traceur was a bit of a lone wolf in the backdoor pilot, but now he’s got an entire team of tech experts that help him out at mission control, which Thompson lovingly referred to as the “KITT cave.” Paul Campbell plays head tech engineer Billy Morgan, who has a crush on a sexy linguist played by Smith Cho. The gang will supply plenty of gadgets, car upgrades and comic relief, though they didn’t seem particularly successful at the latter in the trailer that was shown.
Of course, the one thing that everyone wants to know is if the immortal David Hasselhoff will be involved in the series. Thompson admitted that he’s had talks with the singing sensation, but the Hoff’s schedule is jam-packed and nothing has been worked out yet. Thompson only wants to bring the actor in if they have a large role for his character that relates to the mythology of the series.
With all the changes behind the scenes, we can only hope that the new Knight Rider TV series ends up being better than the recent movie. The trailer for the show was fairly corny, but at least it had KITT transforming into a deadly attack car. If the crew keeps up that kind of cheesy fun, maybe Michael Knight’s adventures will last longer than a few episodes.
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(Video courtesy of NBC)