Knight Rider is an American television series created and produced by Glen A. Larson. The series was originally broadcast on NBC from 1982 to 1986. The show stars David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight, a high-tech modern crime fighter assisted by KITT, an advanced artificially intelligent, self-aware and nearly indestructible car. This was the last series Larson devised at Universal Television before he moved to 20th Century Fox.
The premise was that young police officer Michael Long (David Hasselhoff) was shot in the face and left for dead. Millionaire Wilton Knight, who rescued him, left his estate to Michael on the condition that he used the resources to fight crime.
Out of respect for the dead millionaire he took his saviour’s surname and became the Michael Knight that we know and love.
Michael also inherited an amazing computerised black car that could talk, had mood swings and could drive itself – much to the consternation of potential thieves. He (it had a masculine voice) was called Knight Industries Two Thousand or KITT for short.
With the help of Wilton’s friend Devon Miles, F.L.A.G. and a lorry-cum-garage they always succeeded in their fight against crime.
- David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight (born Michael Arthur Long), an undercover detective of Los Angeles Police Department who, while on a case in Las Vegas, is shot in the face and nearly killed. Wilton Knight, founder of Knight Industries and creator of FLAG, directs his doctors to save Long’s life and reconstruct his face. With his new identity, “Michael Knight”, Long is provided with high tech crime-fighting equipment, most notably the car named KITT. Hasselhoff also played Garthe Knight, Wilton Knight’s estranged son and a criminal mastermind who drives Goliath, a semi tractor trailer Peterbilt 352 Pacemaker truck armed with rockets and protected by KITT’s molecular bonded shell after the formula was stolen by Elizabeth Knight, Wilton’s widow.
- William Daniels as the voice of KITT, or Knight Industries Two Thousand, the autonomous, artificially intelligent car, with whom Michael Knight is partnered. Daniels, who simultaneously starred on St. Elsewhere, requested not to be credited for his role as KITT’s voice.
- Edward Mulhare as Devon Miles, the leader of FLAG, who appeared in every episode to provide mission details to Knight and KITT. He was also the spokesman for FLAG whenever it came under scrutiny.
- Patricia McPherson as Dr. Bonnie Barstow (Seasons 1, 3-4), KITT’s chief technician and romantic tension for Michael. The character was dropped after the first season, but due to strong fan reaction and lobbying by Hasselhoff and Mulhare, she was returned for the third season and remained through the end of the series.
- Rebecca Holden as April Curtis (Season 2), chief technician for KITT. The character was written out when Patricia McPherson returned. The connection between the two was never established in any installments.
- Peter Parros as Reginald Cornelius III aka RC3 (Season 4), driver of the FLAG mobile unit and occasional sideman for Michael and KITT.
- Richard Basehart as Wilton Knight, the creator of FLAG, who dies in the pilot episode. Basehart’s voice, however, is heard throughout the series, narrating over the intro and outro.
The car used as KITT in the series was a customized 1982 Pontiac Firebird sports model, that cost US$100,000 to build (equivalent to about $265,690.35 in 2018). Nose, dash and other interior of the car were designed by the design consultant Michael Scheffe.
The “Knight Rider Theme” was composed by Stu Phillips and Glen A. Larson. The series DVD bonus material contains an interview about this lead music, where Glen A. Larson says he remembers a theme out of a classical piece (“Marche Et Cortège De Bacchus” Act III – No. 14 from Sylvia written by French composer Léo Delibes) from which he took pieces for the “Knight Rider Theme”.
The rest of the series music was composed by Stu Phillips for 13 episodes and Don Peake for 75 episodes. Glen A. Larson co-wrote music for one episode and Morton Stevens wrote the music for one episode. Peake took over scoring duties at S1E14 in 1983, when Larson moved to Twentieth Century-Fox and Phillips was working there on his projects. Peake remained as the series sole composer until the end of the series in 1986, with the exception of “K.I.T.T. vs. K.A.R.R.” in third season, which he composed together with Stu Phillips and Glen A. Larson.
In 2005 FSM released a disc of music from the series, featuring the series theme, ad bumpers and Phillips’ scores for “Knight of the Phoenix” (the pilot), “Not a Drop to Drink”, “Trust Doesn’t Rust”, “Forget Me Not” and the composer’s final episode “Inside Out”, as well as the logo music for Glen Larson Productions. Albums of Don Peake’s scores have also been issued.
In 1984, “Hooray for Hollywood”, a two-part episode of Diff’rent Strokes, David Hasselhoff and KITT (not voiced by William Daniels) appeared when rescuing Arnold Jackson (Gary Coleman) and Dudley Ramsey (Shavar Ross) from a near on-set incident while visiting Universal Studios Hollywood.