Brandon Tartikoff, youthful head of programming at NBC, once gave California magazine this version of the creation of Knight Rider: It seems he and one of his assistants were discussing the problems of casting handsome leading men in the series, because many of them can’t act. Why not have a series, he mused, called “The Man of Six words,” which would begin with the guy getting out of a woman’s bed and saying “Thank You.” Then he would chase down some villians and say “Freeze!” Finally the grateful almost-vitims would thank him, and he would murmur, “You’re welcome.” End of show. In between, the car could do the talking. The series that made it to the air as Knight Rider was scarcley less preposterous than that, but it was played with such a twinkle in the eye that viewers–especillay kids–made it one of the hits of the 1982 season.
The opening episode told the story of how a dying millionaire named Wilton Knight rescued a young undercover cop who had been shot in the face. After plastic surgery officer Michael Long had a new face, a new identity (Michael Knight), and a new mission in life: to fight for law and justice in the Knight’s incredible super-car, the Knight Industries Two Thousand–or KITT, for short. It was love at first sight between Michael and KITT. The car, a sleek, black, customized Pontiac Trans-Am, was impervious to attack, could cruise at 300 mph, could leap up to 50 feet through the air, and was loaded with such armaments as flamethrowers, smoke bombs, and infrared sensing devices. Best of all, it could talk, and in fact had a personality all its own; peevish, a bit haughty, but totally protective of Michael. He could summon the car when in trouble, and it would come crashing through the walls to get him. Its deceased inventor had left behind a huge fortune to finance the crime-fighting, and a trusted associate, the suave Devon, to look after things. Based at a palatial estate, called somewhat grandly the Foundation for Law and Government, Michael (and often Devon) went forth each week, trailed by a large maintenance van that served as a sort of mobile command post. Rounding out the crew was a beautiful mechanic, variously Bonnie or April, and “RC3,” a streeet-wise mechanic who joined the team in the fall of 1985.
Michael Knight and his “Buddy” K.I.T.T began their future together fighting crime and criminals who operated “above the law”. We find that with each episode that “One man (and his KITT) CAN make a difference”. Our Knight in shining armor arrived to fill our hearts with hope and our world with peace.