I disagree, Justin Bruening was probably the most competent and charasmatic actor on the show. It was the crap he had to work with from the script to the overuse of CG for real world elements - the direction of GST and his ideas that just did not work (save for episode 17 - I guess everyone can get it right at least once). Justin did the best with what he had and what he had wasn't good enough to last. Let's be honest here, the series "arc" planning was severely lacking and the budget was blown on needless CG just to say HEY WE CAN DO THIS ON TV NOW! We're as good as a motion picture house! Look at our snazzy effects SEE SEE! They also inflated the budget on other useless crap like using green screen to shoot a scene on a desert road, which could have been shot practically on a real desert road. GST was more obsessed with the technology and the access to use it, than making sure to create a story that supported it. I've talked to people involved with the series, I know these tidbits by research, not assumption.
I don't believe casting Justin as the lead was the problem, you can have a good actor like say Samuel L. Jackson be tossed into a cardboard role like Mace Windu in the Star Wars prequels and watch the performance tank. It's in the writing and the direction and clearly it wasn't there in KR08 because the brass didn't care to get what Knight Rider was about and when they did finally start to "get it" they no longer cared to try. For NBCU, Knight Rider was a passing fad that never really fit in with their brand of programming. It was Ben Silverman's idea and when he grew bored with it, so did the brass.
I think the writing dictated the casting and the other characters just didn't have enough depth or purpose to be there save for Graiman. Other than comedy relief and some sexual tension, Zoey and Billy didn't contribute much. Sarah was pretty useless and didn't know what the hell she needed to be until she magically becomes the head of FLAG and I guess matures in accepting that role. Too many cooks in the kitchen as they say. It's like they had to invent reasons to toss the comedic duo in there just to come up with a complete episode because Mike didn't have enough to do on his own with KITT. Why did Ravai need to be around? She was a clone of Torres - they both nagged the crap out of Mike and the gang with beurocratic nonsense. We get it, the FBI controls "Knight Research" which was a glaring mistake from the start. But anyway, you get the idea. The cast could have worked, there was some chemistry there (Except Sydney, I'm sorry but she's a horrible actress in this series.) but they didn't have anything to work with.
If Knight Rider: The Series
was on FOX or the CW, I bet we'd have little problem with another season because those networks can take something that's lackluster and still make it work. While FOX is notorious for canceling shows, lately they've been more patient with their programming. Human Target
was also lacking, but Fox renewed it anyway - even with a so-so cast (Jackie Earle Haley aside) and hit and miss writing, Fox recognizes the potential there and it ended on a strong season finale. Honestly Human Target is shot and written very much like KR08 but what it does that is different besides not having a talking supercar - is it limits the number of characters and allows the "team" to split up - they're not always stuck in the same place at the same time nagging Chance every moment while he goes out and does his thing. Chance is allowed to be one man who chooses to make a difference - even if he's not as exciting (to me) as James Bond or Michael Knight.
Human Target is by no means perfect nor do I feel it holds a candle to the original action of Knight Rider but clearly it has proven it can go the distance based on character and cast alone and it's been allowed to evolve the storyline so that the characters are given more depth and in that - the actors have more to work with.
I have little doubt "The Cape" won't last long on NBC either, but it has a more fighting chance because it's being billed as a "cop drama" - and that's something Knight Rider clearly was not. It was a brand all its own and in this modern day, Knight Rider has become a ship with nowhere to dock on television and so it remains decommisioned in the network shipyard until someone either comes in to buy and restore the property, or another ten years pass and NBC's regime changes again with studio brass who can recognize Knight Rider's true potential beyond just hocking the latest hi-end sports car on the market. If you're gonna build a show around selling the car, you should actually SELL The car through something called you know, "official merchandise".
Why didn't we get merchandise on a show that clearly has a talking supercar as its star? Was it licensing issues with Shelby? Was it neglect? Was it just greed to spend as little money as possible? Yet, they spent so much money on visual effects and built all these elaborate sets and several "vehicle" modes...yet they couldn't be bothered to release one 1/64 or 1/18 scale officially licensed version of KI3T? Rediculous, absolutely rediculous.
Lastly, Sons of Anarchy
has the best of both worlds - it has a killer cast and top notch writing. The creator of the show Kurt Sutter, knows what he's doing and he knows how he wants his characters to feel. He's written the bulk of the episodes on that series (26 episodes). Kurt clearly has a plan for each season, where as GST seemed to be shooting in the dark. You don't see SoA being "reboot" even once.
Another strong show with a good cast and strong writing is True Blood
. There are strong writers out there, clearly. The problem is, even with the best writing staff, you're scripts are only going to be as strong as the person leading them - GST should be held responsible for what was allowed to happen, despite how much he passes blame on the network - I fail to see much evidence that showed GST had an established plan that worked from the beginning. What I saw was a series that was rushed to the air and shot and written so quickly, there was no room for improvement. Clearly we can all agree the series needed improvement in order to keep our interest. It wasn't some master plan to kill off Graiman and limit the cast, that was the network's influence which then reflected on the writing.
A solution was reached to improve the writing and the budgetary problems - to bring the elements of Knight Rider back into the modernized vision of Knight Rider - but as I stated before the network chose to let KR08 fail, they chose to hold their own ego above the needs of the audience and in that choice, the inevitable was reached. NBCU cared so little about the show at this point or its audience, they didn't even have the respect to inform you - the audience and the fans that the series was ever cancelled. They just went about their business and kicked everyone who wanted to give this series a fighting chance to survive to the curb. They won't even release a Blu-Ray when their series's biggest "claim to fame" was showing motion picture scale "visual effects" in glorious HD.
So much for all that money poured into shooting things HD - only place you'll get to enjoy that quality now is itunes.
I'm not bragging or gloating here people, I'm telling you the cold hard truth - because at the end of the day whether I agree with the choices made or not, a Knight Rider series off the air endangers the value of the property and that benefits no one. Clearly KR08 had issues but at least it had the potential to succeed, it was just not given the time or patience of another season to turn things around by people who knew what Knight Rider was really about.
In my strong opinion, KR08 wasn't successful because NBCU didn't care to allow it to become successful
. They didn't allow outside input, they didn't allow fan input, they didn't make merchandise availible, they didn't release a worthy edition on dvd - they did everything on the cheap because they honestly thought you the audience were expendible along with the many actors they "let go" on the series. They didn't give you or the property respect and when they were bored, they moved on. No thanks for watching, thanks for your support, thanks to KRO for their many exclusive videos with the cast/crew, not even a recognized farewell....they unceremoniously handed the audience a pink-slip and moved on.
Short of being sold to another network, I can absolutely guarantee you that a Knight Rider motion picture of some sort will hit the big screen before the series ever returns to the air. Glen still cares about this property, deeply - while other brass have just lost patience or faith in it.
Clearly Knight Rider today cannot exist as it did back in the 80s. It's a different time with different desires and necessities - different visions of what is hi-tech then and what is hi-tech now. I only hope that fans will understand that the motion picture is trying to meet the fans halfway - as much as logistically possible in our modern era of filmaking where studios would rather view movies as investments rather than creative gambles. I won't deceive you and say that our motion picture is going to be like the original pilot at this point and many of the paths we wish to take are going to be different but I can promise you that you will have Michael Knight, Devon, Wilton, and K.I.T.T. as they should be handled. Same characters, different faces.
Let's hope whatever studio that steps up to make Knight Rider's motion picture a reality has the respect and patience to allow it to succeed and you the fans will give it the chance to succeed. There are many expectations out there that won't be met, they simply don't work today - but there are also other expectations out there that will be met - it is our hope that what we do will be a "game changer" - set the trend, rather than follow one.