May 28, 2020
Knight Rider “Knight of the Phoenix” (part 1 of 4)
Way back in the early 1980s, producer Glen A. Larson was the king of television, with seemingly dozens of series running on practically every network. Accounts vary on how exactly he came up with the idea of a series about a talking car, but this pilot is the genesis of a show that lasted four years, and spawned several follow-on TV movies, and another, less successful series in 2008. The original Knight Rider was the first series to air opposite Dallas and survive, which is pretty impressive. This is how it all started.
Larson stuffed the pilot with veteran actors, both stars and character actors. There’s definitely a “hey, it’s that guy” quality to the episode, especially with the various thugs and petty criminals that show up later. There are some nice practical stunts, some good drama, and a few funny bits, although those are a little hit and miss. The pilot worked well enough, landing the series as it did. The episode ran three times during that TV season, and was in the top ten in the ratings each time.