Today sees the release of Knight Rider (2008), Season One on DVD. This four disc set contains the original Pilot from February 2008, as well as all 17 episodes that aired from September 24, 2008 till March 4, 2009.
Originally aired in February of 2008, the "back door pilot" was watched by over 12.7 million viewers. Set in real time, of 25 years later, we find Charles Graimen (a never known creator of KITT), being pursued, which activates the Knight Industries Three Thousand, or KITT, so that it can secure Sarah, Charles's daughter, and do what is necessary to protect her and the secrets she might be able to provide.
In September of the same year, Knight Rider returned to series form. Gary Scott Thompson (of Las Vegas and Fast and the Furious fame), came aboard as showrunner to inject adrenaline into the pilot, and transition it to episodic television. Originally approved for 13 filmed episodes, news was received on October 4th that four more scripts had been requested by NBC, and by Oct 21st they had approved a full season order.
As the show changed from the pilot to series, several characters were lost, while others were gained. The small team on the run, had turned into a larger government organization in a bunker in the middle of nowhere. What they lacked in dirt and grit, they more than made up for in flash and amazement.
The episodes themselves start out as a larger seasonal arch, with a story line that was supposed to carry on throughout the season. This was a departure from the original's "self contained format", a change some welcomed, but it didn't stay that way for too long. Sub-plots containing Mike's lost memory were quickly cut from the episodes for being too graphic, and shoved online for not many to see.
With complaints of too many characters vying for screen time, and NBC failing as a network to attract any viewership for any series, thus cutting many executives on staff, a change was needed. The format shifted in brilliant form back to the Knight Rider theme of old, by "offing" several of the main cast members, and blowing up the large government organization.
This new direction, with a renewed focus on the core of Knight Rider's vision of one man making a difference, began to see the ratings improve. But it was too little too late. In December, with new management in power at NBC, production on Knight Rider shut down at the end of it's 17th filmed episode (which aired 13th), a reduction from the 23 that were promised.
While many of us fought on to have this version of Knight Rider rise again, the future is still unclear. But with this release, we get to hold onto it a little more.