Knight Rider “Deadly Maneuvers” (part 2 of 3)

Ladd and Knight split up to do some more investigating. She heads off to check out her dad’s quarters, while Knight goes to check out his office. At this point, Knight decides that he’ll need some sort of disguise in order to do that, which makes sense, in our universe anyway. In Knight’s universe, on “Engelhart”, nobody seems to care that he’s walking all over base, in and out of offices. Whatever. He needs a costume, so he bribes the owner of the local roach coach, and tries to enter the building dressed as a snack vendor.

Caption contributed by Mark M.

”Is that a foot long?” ”And then some!”

A couple of MPs intercept him before he can get inside though, and notice that he’s not the normal snack dude. They start to hassle him about not having the proper paperwork, just because that’s the kind of things MPs do. Cops are pigs, no matter what uniforms they wear, man!

Ahem. Note to all of you policemen and policewomen out there: Just kidding! I love the police!

The MPs march Knight into the office of another officer, one Major Rainey. (Wouldn’t that be a great name for a TV weatherman?) Rainey digs through Knight’s wallet, and finds all of the faux business cards that Knight uses on his missions.

Like the mission he was supposed to be on before he started wandering around an Army base? Like that one?

I get a chuckle here, because one of the business cards lists Knight as a qualified Swedish masseuse! That’s yet another reason why the chicks dig him, I guess. KITT probably has a fold out massage table feature, plus a jet that spews warm, scented oil.

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A while back, some folks on the forum had a discussion about nitpicking movies. At the risk of arousing some ire, allow me to pick a nit, real quick-like. The two MPs that hauled Knight into Rainey’s office have lovely, white-painted batons, to match the white holsters for their service pistols. You know, so that when they’re out whacking some longhair on the head during a riot, the whack-ee can appreciate the beauty and majesty of the stick smacking into his head. ‘Cause getting smacked upside the head with a plain old wood-colored baton just wouldn’t be the same, I guess.

Anyways, their batons don’t match. They’re completely different in style; the only thing they have in common is that they’re white. In fact, the blonde MP’s weapon looks like a baluster from a staircase that somebody found and painted white (which could be the explanation—remember this episode seems to have been shot on the cheap). And I could go on like this for a while, re: the batons and the Army’s penchant for uniformity, but you get the point.

Can I help it if I notice things like that?

But the bribed food vendor verifies that he’s Knight’s uncle, so Major Rainey turns him loose. Before he goes, Knight manages to nick a manila folder from Rainey’s desk, thoughtfully laid out in plain view and labeled “Ladd, Ernest T. Accident Report.” Hey, that might become handy, right? To a point, I guess.

Knight and Ladd learn from the file that the dead colonel had blue paint on his hands, but that fact doesn’t mean anything to them at this point. In fact, based on how Knight puts things together later on, the blue paint on old Ernie’s hands doesn’t really add anything to the plot. The conclusion? The whole dress-as-a-vendor scene was pretty much inserted for yuks. That’s a long way to go for a mildly amusing Swedish masseuse joke, folks.

After Knight drops Lt. Ladd off, we have the first “action” piece of the episode, such as it is. The same gang of GIs that forced Colonel Ladd off the road to his fiery death—also the same ones from the ridge—pursue him out onto a lonely highway in the dark.

Now, I just know you’ve been waiting breathlessly for the resolution to the whole “Alpha circuit” plot thread, haven’t you? Well, are you sitting down? Wipe the sweat off your palms and prepare yourself for the glorious reveal of the horrific consequences of Knight’s towing escapade!

KITT’s radio won’t work because the Alpha circuit was damaged.

Oh, the humanity! The tragedy! The pathos!

The hell?

Really? Towing a car with an (apparently not quite) indestructible Trans-Am causes the radio to go out? Whatever. Why should we care, though? The only reason this nonsense seems to be in the script is to set up a rendezvous with the “home office”, which wasn’t introduced in the pilot episode. I understand that introducing something new that will be important to the series is a good thing to do in the first “real” episode. But like the masseuse joke, the way they do it seems like a long road for a short walk. Another possible reason for including the damaged radio bit, though, would be: Somebody thought it was funny.

The mind reels.

So, on to the action, then! The pursuing GIs pull up alongside KITT and try to run him off the road. That doesn’t work too well, because the rest of KITT seems to be better protected than the towing parts. Knight drops back and spins around, and the goons turn around as well. Now the super exciting, 30 mile-per-hour chase is going in the other direction. My heart rate is just ripping along! How ‘bout yours? Try to read this next bit using the faux-British director accent that Adam Savage uses every now and then (okay, every episode) on Mythbusters: “Right! So what we’re doing here is driving in a straight line. Then, you both turn around and drive in a straight line—in the other direction!

Eventually, Knight flips a U-turn and decides to play “chicken” with the truck. They drive at each other for a while, and then the idiots in the truck remember that they actually have a gun. They squeeze off a few shots, but their aim is a lot worse than when they were shooting at Colonel Ladd. Not a single shot hits the target, even though they have the gun on full auto and the distance is only 50 feet or so.

Want some more budget woe evidence? They couldn’t afford blanks for the gun, to produce muzzle flashes, nor could they afford squibs to make it look like bullets were ricocheting off KITT. They could afford a machine gun sound effect, but that’s about all.

Knight jerks the car to the left just in time, and the vehicles don’t collide. At least, they don’t collide on screen. A collision sound effect is heard, so I think we’re supposed to assume that they did run into each other off-camera. But the truck is clearly not damaged as it exits the frame. It just veers a little and drives off, none the worse for wear.

That is, until the jump cut, when suddenly the passenger side door is sort of, well, off. The truck rolls to a stop by the side of the road, and a hissing steam sound effect clues us in that the truck is out of order. The passenger GI looks down, only to see his arm still reaching through the window of the detached door, clutching his now bent M-16. Yep, the non-crash we just witnessed is supposed to have hit the dude’s arm, which then hit the door, which then ripped the door clean off the truck. The GI? He’s fine! No worries!

Forget KITT! This GI must be Clark Kent!

Caption contributed by Mark M.

Sorry, but I call “no fracking way!”

The next day, Knight again proves that the Army doesn’t know Jack about security when he barges right into the mainframe data center where Lt. Ladd works. What with the (admittedly lame) attempt on his life, he’s more sure than ever that something bad is going down on the base. Other than gross dereliction of duty, that is.

Knight and Ladd get a map of the base out, and try to figure out just what the dead colonel was doing on the night he was killed. The map helps them figure out that the deader Ladd was probably in the vicinity of the munitions bunkers just before his Foley-ed firebomb. They plan on investigating later that evening, which doesn’t really make sense. Knight’s been walking right into every classified building on the post so far. Why assume that the ammunition bunkers would be any different?

Finally, the whole towing/Alpha circuit/dead radio thing comes to a head, as the “home office” arrives. In order for Knight to have adventures farther afield from the laboratory where the car was built, Devon and the new character Bonnie now have a specially modified semi, which serves as a mobile repair station for KITT. Knight finds the truck on the side of the road and pulls into the back. Both Bonnie and Devon greet Knight as if he just pooped in their morning cornflakes. You know, the usual greeting.

Knight Rider "Deadly Maneuvers" (part 2 of 3)

And Bonnie is suddenly there with Devon, without a word of explanation, even though she wasn’t in the pilot episode at all. Knight knows her by name, and even acts like he’s known her for a while. She rocks her white mechanic’s jumpsuit, that’s for sure. Once KITT tells her that his Alpha circuit has been damaged, she immediately knows that Knight must have tried to tow another car. Except, KITT doesn’t have a trailer hitch, so Knight must have towed Ladd’s car by using the back bumper. So why on Earth would Wilton Knight’s engineers put critical circuitry in the bumper of the car?

Okay, okay, I know. They didn’t do that. They put the radio circuitry in the bumper. That makes ever so much more sense!

Bonnie moves in to fix KITT, while Devon takes Knight aside for his weekly scolding. In less than a minute, Knight has brushed off Devon’s demands that he go do his actual mission, and Bonnie has repaired the Alpha circuit, and Knight is back on the road again. Thanks for dropping by, Bonnie and Devon! See you next episode!

Mark M. Meysenburg

Mark teaches at Doane College, a liberal arts college in Crete, Nebraska. Most of his teaching involves computer science, but Mark also occasionally teaches mathematics and the history of science; he has also been known to offer three week courses on the worst movies ever made. Mark's bad movie obsession was kindled in the early 1980s by the Medved brothers, then fanned to full flame by late-night showings of Plan 9 from Outer Space. Who could have predicted the long term effects of satin-pajama-clad, mincing alien menace? Mark's other interests include homebrew beer and wine, and practicing and teaching martial arts.

Multi-Part Article: Knight Rider "Deadly Maneuvers"

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  • Very nice analysis of the episode. But, you forgot to mention that Lt. Ladd wasn’t wearing underwear in the scene where she was locked in the tank. Check out the scene where she appears to be agonizingly trying to open the locked tank door, just before Knight frees her. LOL