Making the Cast Too Big: Team Knight Rider (TV Showcase #25)

Nine years after the cancellation of “Knight Rider”, a pseudo-revival of the show came to the air. Now, besides the fact that I think that nine years is a little too soon for a reboot, “Team Knight Rider” did something else which I think is the main reason it didn’t make it. But it’s an interesting concept to consider, so here’s what this show has to bring to the table.

“Team Knight Rider” (TKR for short) started in 1997 and ran for 22 hour-long episodes, ending in 1998. This show continues the story of FLAG (Foundation for Law and Government, which Michael Knight worked for), who has expanded the one man and his talking car idea into a team of five, each with talking cars. The team consistently goes out and fights crime, basically just taking Michael Knight’s gig to the next level. But TKR was vastly different from “Knight Rider”. So what’s the deal?

TKR was a continuing saga, which would’ve been a brilliant idea, except for one thing. The show had a huge cast, and the audience was expected to know all of them. There were five TKR members, each with five talking cars, who all had their own personalities, but unlike KITT, they all looked like regular cars. Plus there’s the crew aboard Sky One (the plane that TKR operates out of, as opposed to the truck that Michael had), who recur for comic relief, but they’ve got a personality of their own too. Now, the continuing saga thing would’ve balanced out a huge cast like that. But TKR didn’t take advantage of this.

Most of the time, all the team members and all of the cars worked together on a mission, and this is the 90s, where fast cutting and epic shots of cars zooming through mud was becoming quite popular. So you’d sometimes have either a person or a vehicle communicating over headset, but the camera would’t be focused in on that character.  And considering there were ten main characters to keep track of, this made it terribly difficult to keep everyone straight. There were also occasions in which TKR members would use another member’s car, which made things even more confusing. The only vehicles that would’ve been easy to distinguish would be the two motorcycles, but even they are able to join together into some wierd conglomerate vehicle and break apart again at will, which was never explained, only demonstrated.

So why would an audience care about this huge cast? Well, the audience doesn’t like it when entertainment puts them at a disadvantage. It’s one thing to have characters with a hidden past or an untold secret, but TKR was an example of being thrown helter-skelter into the middle of an already fully-fledged world. Shows like “Once Upon A Time” deal with variations on characters we already know, while shows like “Resurrection” (which I’ve talked about before) introduced characters and developed them as the saga continued. TKR didn’t do this, so just when I felt like I was getting to know the characters well, the show was near its end.

While I did enjoy the charm of “Team Knight Rider”, I wasn’t really a fan of feeling like I had a lack of information that everybody (within the show) knew. It was an alright idea, it just wasn’t presented well enough. What do you think?

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