Knight Rider-Volume 1 (1982)
|Year Of Production||1982|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
Universal Pictures Home Video
Glen A. Larson
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Before David Hasselhoff became Mitch, the guy on Baywatch who would run in slow motion up the beach to a rock’n’roll soundtrack and be mobbed by a dozen gorgeous blondes in skimpy swimwear, he was Michael Knight, a vigilante with a hi-tech car named K.I.T.T. (voiced by William Daniels). That’s right, all you kids of the 80s, it’s time to rejoice because your favourite B-Grade sci-fi crime fighting show with the cool car is back – Knight Rider rides again!
Sadly, we have been ungraciously dumped with a two-disc set entitled The Best of Knight Rider that is more than a little out of order, and contains only six episodes, rather than the full first season. This is very disappointing, particularly given that Columbia TriStar managed to dig up the whole first season of S.W.A.T. (a show that pre-dates Knight Rider) for release in one go. Universal have not been so kind. The episodes we have here are:
Knight Of The Phoenix Part I & II (92:02) -- This is the series pilot movie, a classic double episode that sets up the whole series. When talented detective Lt. Michael Long is shot and left for dead by a group of industrial spies, he is saved by a millionaire philanthropist, given a new identity and also a new car with lots of gadgets and an artificial intelligence known as Knight Industries Two Thousand or K.I.T.T. He heads to Silicon Valley in order to bring to justice those who stole his life, with the help of K.I.T.T. and the Knight Estate butler Devon (Edward Mulhare).
Trust Doesn’t Rust (45:38) -- This is actually Episode 9 of Season 1, so we jump a few pivotal episodes in between, including the introduction of Bonnie (Patricia McPherson) who used to work for Knight Industries and helped create K.I.T.T. In this episode, K.I.T.T.’s predecessor, the Knight Automated Roving Robot or K.A.R.R., is stolen by a couple of drunks who use it to go on a crime spree. However, unlike K.I.T.T., K.A.R.R. has no conscience and was programmed only for self-preservation. Can Michael and K.I.T.T. stop K.A.R.R with the use of a specially designed laser? And how many macho one-liners can we fit in between all these acronyms?
Soul Survivor (46:37) -- This is Episode 9 or Season 2, so we are really skipping ahead here. Bonnie is gone, replaced by blond science girl April (Rebecca Holden) – but not to worry, she returns again for Season 3. In this episode, K.I.T.T. is stolen by a power-hungry woman and the computer geek kid she is manipulating, in order to be used in an art heist.
Knightmares (46:33) -- Skip forward a couple of episode to Episode 11 of Season 2. This one sees Michael take a grenade blast that causes amnesia. He no longer remembers that he is Michael Knight, but instead insists he is Michael Long. K.I.T.T. tries to help him recover his memories in time to foil a plot by a couple of criminals who have stolen metal used in the space program.
A Good Knight’s Work (46:36) -- Take another big jump forward, this time to Episode 20 of Season 2. In this episode, Michael is recognised by a group of criminals, headed by the evil Cameron, whom he got close to back when he was Michael Long. After establishing that he isn’t dead, Cameron sets out to finish Michael off once and for all. At the same time, Michael is on the case helping out a toy designer named Gina. However, things get far more complicated when K.I.T.T. becomes the target, and Gina gets caught in the crossfire.
What’s there to say?
What a blast from the past. It makes me nostalgic for all those kids shows I used to watch on Friday nights like Magnum P.I. and Airwolf. Sure, the production values are more than a little shonky, the fx a little dated, there is far too much posing, and the hairstyles and clothing are just laughable. But what really got me while I was watching this was that Knight Rider is actually pretty well written for its day. No, seriously. Sure, some of the plots were a little cliché, and the dialogue borders on atrocious, but this is no A-Team. The characters are relatively human for a TV show of this period, all things considered, and they are not totally invincible, which makes it that much more engaging. You don’t always expect Michael to come off without a scratch or his buddies not to get killed or K.I.T.T. not to get melted in an acid bath (though sadly we don’t have that episode).
I do not expect to make any new converts with this review. Kids these days are more interested in ultra-violent computer games, and they have a TV in every room, so they never had to beg their parents to watch stuff like this, and they will never know what it means to miss an episode of your favourite show when you were five. But if you ever used to watch this show, you should pick this up on rental just to remember how much fun it was to be a kid into fast black cars and leather jackets. Hopefully, in time Universal will realise the error of their ways and put the whole thing out in a season-length box set for us fans of cult TV shows. Until then, this taste should whet your appetite for a little more 80s nostalgia.
Presented in 1.33:1, Full Frame, non-16x9 enhanced, this is the original aspect ratio of the series. Much like the remastered versions episodes of S.W.A.T., I have to say that I was blown away by the quality of these transfers. Now, don’t misunderstand me. This isn’t the crystal clear glossy image of Moulin Rouge or Lord Of The Rings. But as remasters go, it was well above my expectations, and is much better than the transfers done for the first series of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Dawson’s Creek.
Colours are well saturated, albeit a little dated as colour schemes go. Flesh tones were nicely rendered, though, and the image was not washed out or anything. Shadow detail was very good and the image was generally clear and sharp.
There are no MPEG artefacts, and film-to-video transfer artefacts were limited to some minor background aliasing and moire effect on some grille plating and the like.
Dirt is a bit of a problem, with every episode suffering from random hairs and black dots circling here and there like vultures pecking at a carcass. The dirt is never very intense but it is noticeable from time to time. However, given how old this series is, I am hardly surprised, and really it is not all that bad.
Subtitles are available in English, Dutch, French and German. They are white with a black border, and follow the dialogue pretty closely.
The dual-layer pauses are at 60:16 on Disc 1 during Knight of the Phoenix, and at 24:10 during the episode Knightmares on Disc 2. They both occur during a fade-to-black into an ad break and are very easy to miss.
Audio is available in English, German and French 2.0 Dolby Mono. Honestly, it would have been nice to have been graced with a stereo mix – particularly with that funky soundtrack – but I guess it would have been hard to get one off material this old.
The range is very good for a mono track, with the dialogue coming through nice and clear, and lots of sound effects for various computer noises and fx noises and the like.
As this is only a mono track, there is no surround use and no subwoofer use.
|Surround Channel Use|
All menus are presented in 1.33:1, Full Frame. They are static and silent.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
As yet, this has not been released in R1. This 2 disc release appears identical to that released in R2.
Knight Rider is dated and corny, but yet so eminently watchable. I don’t understand why. It has perhaps achieved that nostalgia status where it gets to be kinda cool in a tacky sort of tongue-in-cheek way. Surprisingly entertaining all these years later. Still, I am very disappointed with Universal for releasing this series this way with only a ‘best of’ selection rather than the whole series.
The video is excellent, with only some apparent graininess from the age of the print and probably the quality of film stock used, and a few too many dots, hairs and lines.
The sound is sadly available only in 2.0 Dolby Mono. I was so looking forward to catching that funky soundtrack in 5.1 Dolby Digital.
The extras have disappeared in a cloud of dust and exhaust fumes.
|DVD||Panasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output|
|Display||Beko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.|
|Speakers||Energy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer|