At Knight Rider's KITT in 4X4 Mode
Mike Levine Posted:
07-30-08 01:36 PT
© 2008 PickupTrucks.com, Images Courtesy of NBC Universal
When “Knight Rider” makes its return to NBC’s
lineup this fall, it will feature a new KITT derived from a 2008 Ford Mustang
Shelby GT500KR (King of the Road) that has about as much in common with
the original KITT as a mid-80s Motorola cell phone shares with an iPhone.
Among the new tricks? KITT can transform into a 2009 Ford F-150 FX4 pickup
truck when it needs to go off-road or move furniture!
fans were treated to a sneak peek of NBC’s reinvented “Knight
Rider” at last week's annual Comic-Con gathering of pop-culture
enthusiasts in San Diego. You'd have to be hibernating in carbonite not
to know the show revolves around a clandestine crime fighter and his
artificially intelligent, nanotech-enabled supercar partner: Knight Industries
The original “Knight Rider,” which
ran from 1982-86, featured the Knight Industries Two Thousand, based
on a 1982 F-body Pontiac Trans Am. Among its inventory of weapons and
defense mechanisms were turbo boost, nearly indestructible body panels
and a dry verbal wit that could go toe-to-toe with David Hasselhoff,
who played Michael Knight.
In the new
version, Michael Knight's long-lost son, Mike Jr., steps into dad's
shoes in the new and improved KITT. Among the innovative new features
is KITT’s ability to transform its shape and capabilities
depending on the tactical situation. If it's out for a leisurely drive,
KITT stays in Normal Mode. If it's pursuing villains it can enter Attack
Mode, expanding its engine displacement, growing air intakes and sprouting
a massive wing. That’s old news; we saw Attack Mode KITT in the
two-hour “Knight Rider” movie last February. That's soooo
early 2008. The mode that grabbed attention at Comic-Con was KITT’s
new pickup truck
"KITT's got a lot more capabilities than before,” said executive
producer Gary Scott Thompson, who also wrote the street-racing film "The
Fast and the Furious" and produced NBC's "Las Vegas." “Twenty-five
years ago a talking car was cool. Now everybody's car talks with GPS.
Speeds have increased, too. The advances have been astronomical. All
these things added up to, 'What would [KITT] do now?'"
So how did the concept of 4x4 Mode KITT become reality? Thompson says
he came up with the idea while writing an episode script.
"The main characters get themselves in a predicament and I was trying
to figure out how to get them out,” he said. “They were running
from bad guys, who are shooting at them. How could I get them into the
car without stopping it? I thought, 'Wouldn't it be great if they just
jumped in the back of a pickup truck?'"
also said NBC execs told him “Knight Rider” fans didn't
think the movie pushed KITT's capabilities far enough.
"It wasn't enough that the car could morph and change colors, I said
it had to change itself into another vehicle,” he said. “They
responded, 'Yeah! That's what we need to do. Go do that!'"
“Knight Rider's” special effects and production teams designed
the KITT F-150 with a look similar to the GT500KR. In an early rendering,
KITT's red “eye” is embedded in a custom power-dome hood,
but production practicalities gave way to a more subtle light treatment
that moved the red eye above and behind the top bar of the FX4's tall
grille. The rest of the truck remains near stock, in contrast to the
modified GT500KR's body.
While many might groan at a GT500KR that can transform on the fly into
an F-150, Thompson talked to futurists at Microsoft to find some grounding
in reality. Their meetings covered what cars and trucks might be like
“They talked about vehicles being able to maneuver between smaller
spaces, meaning it would have to squeeze itself, or it would grow larger
or grow bigger wheels to get over a large obstacle,” he said. “I
thought, ‘Wow, if these guys are already thinking about this now,
then we need to be looking at this.’”
like KITT's new offroad program will become a regular part of “Knight Rider.” Thompson
says we'll see it in two of the first four episodes. There might be
other modes on the horizon, too.
“As long as we stay within about the same mass, you might see
other versions of KITT,” Thompson said. “You're not, however,
going to see it turn into a huge spaceship.”
We'd suggest the next mode blend KITT's Attack and 4x4 programs to create
an even more aggressive pickup. We'd call it Raptor
Mode, of course.
catch “Knight Rider” on
Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET this fall on NBC.