A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that one of the main characters of this show is a car that can -- and often does -- zip along at 300 mph, jump over ditches, shoot flames, and many other daredevil exploits. Kids, who are probably the most likely to enjoy the show these days (although even they may be turned off by the now-dated effects and production values), may plead with their parents to emulate the show's questionable traffic habits ... or at least to buy them toys that will let them pretend to do it themselves.
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What's the story?
It's hard to say who's the real star of KNIGHT RIDER -- Michael Knight, the mysterious loner dedicated to pursuing justice, or KITT, the amazing black car that is his friend and ally. Certainly when it hit the air in 1982, KITT, played by a souped-up Pontiac Trans Am, generated the most buzz -- it could speed along at 300 mph, was equipped with flamethrowers, smoke bombs, and numerous other gadgets, had a bulletproof exterior, and was powered by an advanced computer that could think and even talk. It was more than an equal to Knight (David Hasselhoff, in his pre-Baywatch pretty-boy glory), who supplied the derring-do as man and machine set off to right wrongs. Knight was once a cop, but after being shot and left for dead, he has become "a man who does not exist," working for the mysterious Foundation for Law and Government, as the opening credits explain. His guide and mentor is Devon (Edward Mulhare) who provides Knight and KITT with their assignment every episode and then directs the action from afar.
Is it any good?
Though it was a huge hit in the 1980s, Knight Rider definitely shows its age. The clothes, stylish then, are now polyester and denim eyesores. The ho-hum production values and staged fights don't compare to current standards, and the generic plots seem formulaic and predictable. Even KITT, the fabulous vehicle with the digital dashboard and sleek lines that seemed so advanced then, now looks like something that belongs on a used-car lot. This is one show that should drive off into the sunset.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about vigilante justice. Michael Knight was once a cop, but he now works for the Foundation for Law and Government, a mysterious private organization that seems to operate outside the law. Though he's clearly the good guy, Michael follows the standard protocol for TV agents, which generally includes sneaking into suspects' homes and offices, lying about his own identity, pummeling the bad guys into submission, and of course driving really, really fast. Is it OK to take the law into your own hands? What about breaking the law to capture criminals -- do the ends ever justify the means?