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Home > Media

TVjism and filmjism: Knight Rider

WARNING: This article may contain frequent use of the word 'shit'.

30 April 2004

The mid 70s to late 80s were the golden age of shit American TV. While the real world suffered from energy crises, a widening gap between rich and poor and the Cold War, the cocaine must have been flowing freely in Shit TV Land, as yet another series of Wonder Woman, with its baffling fixation with resurrecting Hitler, was commissioned.

The imported TV shit of this period included The A-Team, The Bionic Man, The Bionic Woman (and Max the bionic dog, lest we forget), The Dukes of Hazzard, The Rockford Files, Battlestar Galactica (series three is possibly the lowest point in human civilisation), ChiPs, Charlie's Angels, Macgyver, Magnum PI, Remington Steele, Ironside, Quincey, Murder She Wrote, Crazy Like A Fox, Manimal, The Man from Atlantis, V (the series, not the TV movie), Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, TJ Hooker, Blue Thunder, Alias Smith and Jones and Knight Rider.

There were others.

There isn't a generic name for these shows; perhaps they're best described as bland, glossy, witless, formulaic, American, adventure show shit. Not content with merely being shit, these shows would prepare the ground for even shitter programmes like Baywatch, Beverly Hills 90201 and - shudder - Renegade.

At a casual glance, these shows - many of which were the work of shitemeisters Glen A Larson and Aaron Spelling - appeared to be aimed at children. But they were also aimed at extremely undiscerning adults, which is slightly worrying, given their popularity. Of all the shows, only a few met even a loose definition of the phrase 'not shit': Airwolf, Blue Thunder, Starsky & Hutch and The Equalizer (and most of these got steadily worse, as though they'd got a built-in self-destruct mechanism so beloved of the genre's screenwriters).

The shows also had certain common traits:

- They all seemed to come from a universe where law and order is maintained by wisecracking individualists in odd clothes.

- They all had agonisingly unfunny 'humorous' segments, particularly at the end of episodes (parodied brilliantly by Garth Marenghi's Dark Place, along with many other elements of the shows).

- They often featured women in either minimal or extremely tight clothing. (See Carter, Linda; Gray, Erin; and Bach, Catherine.)

- They tended to make homegrown efforts like The Professionals (and quite possibly even C.A.T.S Eyes) look like collaborations between Martin Scorsese and Tom Stoppard.

All the shows have a certain retro charm, but by God, you try watching one of them all the way through without the use of drugs. As such, you'd think they would be consigned to the septic tank of TV history. Not so - more than a few have been turned into Hollywood films. The latest is Knight Rider. Ben Affleck and Ashton Kutcher are rumoured to be competing for the star role.

What WILL SOMEBOBY PLEASE EXPLAIN what new level of creative bankruptcy has prompted a film version of Knight Rider?

It was probably one of the shittest in the bumper crop of scheisse. Lousy, just-speak-the-words acting. Unbelievably repetitive plots. The aforementioned non-humour. David 'Wooden Man' Hasselhoff. The bollocks 'a man who does not exist' (if only) preamble. KITT, the car with the personality of the gay one in Gimme Gimme Gimme. The tired fisticuff sequences... there's just so much in Knight Rider not to like. Is this any sensible way to make movies?

Of course, there's the infinitesimally small chance that the film of Knight Rider might turn out to be good. Defying all common sense and logic, the recent film remake of Battlestar Galactic is actually ace. Ergo, Knight Rider could be good too.

But you just know it won't.

It's going to be shit.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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