Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Monday, February 18, 2008

Knight Talker

Well, the weather here was crappy last night, with lots of wind and freezing rain, and since we don't have cable, our TV reception was awful – which figures, since it's the first time in about a year that I was looking forward to watching something on broadcast TV.

In fact, the reception was so bad, that I almost turned off the set and gave up on the idea of watching the new Knight Rider telefilm.

But nostalgia won out, and I persevered.

For the most part, I enjoyed it... but it wasn't a good as I'd hoped. Unlike most revivals of old TV shows, this one actually had much the same feel as the original series. I thought the cast was likeable enough, and the plot servicable, and I liked the car. I even liked Val Kilmer's voice work as KITT. The biggest difference was that in this version, they attempted to flesh out the characters a tiny bit more than in the original. Well, while I am all for deeper chacterizations, the writers' idea of how to do this was to have the characters have long, expository conversations with the car. Lots of long conversations.

With the car.

The biggest problem for me, though, was that the film didn't really show KITT in action beyond a couple of very routine car chases and some nano-tech camouflage and self-repair functions. You'd think that after 25 years, they could have thought up and executed some really exciting stunts to put the car through, but they didn't. Hell, they didn't even jump the car over anything!

But that's modern TV writing, unfortunately: lots of dialogue, a lack of action, and anticlimaxes.

I keep hearing people saying how TV writing is so much more sophisticated than in the 70's and 80's, but I also find most of it a hell of a lot more boring.


Charles Gramlich said...

The same is true in newly published books to some extent. Huge swaths of dialogue and not much in the way of excitement. At least in many new books I've picked up lately. Just lots of chatter. I didn't care much for the new Knight Rider. Cool car though, but yeah, they should have cut it loose a bit.

vidsaw said...

They didn't jump the car? Not once? WTF?

I mean, for me, the only point to remaking this (or is this a sequel?) would be to go a little gonzo. Go a little over the top.

This is a show about a crime fighting talking car.

It should make jumps!

I'm weirdly offended by the idea that it didn't. :)

Glen said...

It's not weird. It's a travesty that the car didn't do any jumps.

"Sophisticated" is a code word for "tell, don't show" in movies and TV. It's just a total cop out.

Roland Hulme said...

That's an interesting take on it...

I enjoyed the whole show more than I thought I would - the writing was much better than a lot of stuff out there at the moment. I also kind of liked the way they didn't show the car off too much. The old KITT had a Deux Ex Machina solution for everything.

It was a pretty tight package all in all - but I do agree with what you said about the exposition. For a car with no emotions, KITT seemed awfully willing to listen to the characters waffle on.