Knight Rider DVD - Season 3 Review - by Neil Epstein
Read our Season 2 review
When the third season aired in the fall of 1984, a familiar face returned. After a dispute with the producers during the previous season, David Hasselhoff and Edward Mulhare fought for Patricia MacPherson to be brought back to the show. Unfortunately that meant that April was gone, with out a reason. But we had our Bonnie, and did that matter then? This season also saw modifications to KITT, giving him a new interior design and overall system features
While overall the quality of writing for this season declined, it was not without some loved fan favorites. Knight of the Drones rocketed us back into the world of Knight Rider, and also had something unique of all the episodes - showing a portion of the episode before the opening credits, much like a movie would. They have kept this in place on the DVD. Fan favorite KITT vs KARR saw the return of the foundations evil angsty prototype. Halloween Knight is a classic tribute to horror and suspense movies of the past. It also includes one of my favorites, Junk Yard Dog.
Come with us as we remember season three, the return of Bonnie and KARR
The Packaging remains exactly like that of the second season, with three DVDs in ultra silm white clear classes, each with episode summeries on the back. The outside packaging is the same shimmering metalic material, this time with yellows and reds. Also Michael has flipped back over to the left side. The packaging also features some images on the back that are from other seasons. While this is unfortunate for the super fan, the average fan wouldn't notice it and it wont take away from their viewing experience. They do however note on the box that there has been some changes from the original episodes. "Includes all original music except for two songs." While it is unfortunate that this had to happen, it's great that they are being up front about it and have learned their lesson of the past.
Continuing with design established their previous discs, Universal has mantained a wonderful menu system. An entertaining video montage plays the best highlights from this season, as a graphic swoosh appears every now and then.
Each disc has a selection of three basic choices. The "Play All" feature plays all the episodes on that side in sequence, when one episode ends the next one begins.
The "Episode Index" section allows you to play one episode at a time. Each episode has a brief synopsis before selection. "Languages" allows you to choose your closed caption on (english) or subtitles (spanish). "Bonus Episode" will play the Season 4 episode, or tell you to put in disc three if you have any other disc inserted. "Sneak Peaks" is nine commercials for their other series on dvd, such as Quantum Leap, Battlestar Galactica and Leave it to Beaver.
The in episode controls are very favorable. You can chapter past the Universal logo, past the episode preview and opening credits, putting you quickly into the episode. Breaks are also included right after the commercial breaks.
The video quality for a 20+ old season continues to be greately improved from previous releases. We showed you with the first season our Video Comparison and that is very much true this time around. It is the best quality available to the public.
There are occasional dust scratches, and some darker scenes can look grainy, but this is more a side effect of the Film stock that was used and time, rather than a poor transfer from Universal. Plus it is nearly twenty two years old.
Also of note is that each episode includes the fade into KITT driving into the desert as the episode breaks for commercial.
Originally recorded in mono sound, these episodes contain all original audio as no mixing to stereo takes place. The result is flat, but clean and sharp as it is much crisper due to the formats native technologies. Don Peake's score remains as critical to the series as a turbo boost.
For this set as with the Season 2 collection, Universal has had to replace a number of songs when they weren't able to achieve proper clearances. Forutnaltey the were able to clear all but two. However, when this happened for Season 2, they replaced the song with a weirdly similar muscak rendition. This time, they didn't go that route at all - instead chosing to remove any music from that area entirely, so you hear the atmospheric noise. Initially when I realized this, I kinda liked it, but when working on this review I fell a little torn. It is less distracting to me than the previous attempt, but when had to remove the music it was over pieces where people are dancing. These clips are no more than 30 seconds in length, but it's a bit weird to watch people dance to nothing.
Below is a video comparision of the episode of Knight of the Drones and Dead of Knight
As with Season 2, unfortunately Universal has decided to not include any extras, such as Bloopers and Commentaries. The 30 second teasers, which some consider a bonus, are still included with this set. They have included the episode from the fourth season which is "Knight of the Rising Sun," but is that really an extra when you'll be able to buy the whole fourth season this April.
Also, something to note is that they have included a coupon sheet for Season 4 of Knight Rider, A-Team and Magnum PI. With it you'll be able to save five dollars instantly on your in store purchase (it's not a mail in rebate coupon).
To say that the third season of Knight Rider was part of the steady decline in the quality of the writing would be an unfair generalization. There are quite a few memorable fan favorite episodes that we have been waiting for on DVD, so you can not go wrong. Spanning 21 episodes, and running for nearly 20 hours you will have the best quality of season three anywhere. And in just a short few months, season four is released, and our crusade will be complete.
Available January 31st from:
Barnes & Noble
and Other DVD stores near you!