Just My Bill


Knight Rider: Season 1, Episode 6: “Just My Bill”

The thing about the early 1980’s is that they were still, essentially, the late 1970’s. So, when Michael Knight shows up to perform bodyguard duty for a United States senator, it’s completely appropriate for his shirt to be unbuttoned almost down to his navel.


Hey, his EYES are UP THERE, ladies.

The senator in question is a friend of Devon’s, Maggie Flynn, who has been receiving death threats and has already had one attempt made on her life. Maggie is brash, opinionated, smart, capable, and friendly, but her most notable attribute, when you consider Knight Rider’s traditions, is that she’s friggin’ old. Her oldness is extremely confusing and upsetting to me, because this is Knight Rider and every episode must revolve in some way around a young, attractive woman for Michael to romance. I mean, what the hell? Is Michael going to travel back in time to hit on Maggie when she was young and sexy?

Wait! False alarm. Maggie has a young, attractive secretary named Jane.


Whew. My Knight Rider worldview remains intact.

After an assassin tries to run Maggie over with a car, Maggie decides to attend a conference out of town, and Michael, being an excellent bodyguard, decides not to accompany her, because it’s easier to guard someone if they’re in another part of the state. Plus, he now has plenty of time to spend with young Jane.

Some detective work reveals there’s a bill in the senate over the construction of a power plant, and predictably, all the old white men in the senate want it to pass because they have a financial stake in the plant’s construction. Having briefly tried to discourage Maggie from voting against it, they’ve moved to stage two of every plot on this show: straight-up murder.

The evil government goons reschedule the vote to take place while Maggie is out of town, and armed thugs surround the remote retreat where Maggie’s conference is taking place to prevent her from leaving. Michael races to the retreat to collect Maggie, turbo-boosting over the goons’ cars, and already we suspect that the show’s budget might be under strain because KITT’s front end flops around and almost falls off during the jump.


No ramps here. Just an innocent bush. Move along.

A helicopter is dispatched to destroy KITT with a grenade launcher, and after evading several blasts, Michael pops the sunroof and climbs onto the chopper. He pulls one goon out, and then punches and judo-chops the pilot in that part of the back where you can totally chop a guy to knock him out. You know the spot. Despite being unconscious from such powerful, expertly delivered blows, the pilot is nice enough to scoot over enough so Michel can “throw” him out of the chopper. I’ve uploaded this amazingly choreographed scene for you to be dazzled by:

Michael gets Maggie to the vote on time, and the evil power plant bill is defeated successfully, and the bad guys are all arrested, and everyone goes to dinner.

This is pretty dull episode, honestly, but it’s effective at highlighting what was so special about the 1980’s. It was a time when hairy chests could be exposed with pride, when halfhearted judo-chops were still an effective way to render someone unconscious, and when the senate actually functioned properly from time to time.

And, of course, it was a time when TV shows could end with everyone laughing at something, followed by a freeze-frame. Good times!

Allows car-driving assassin to out-drive him, lets Maggie’s body leave town when he’s supposed to be guarding it.

Michael has breakfast with Jane, but it’s just breakfast, not, you know… “breakfast.”

Surveillance mode to detect movement, onscreen display of people being pursued, which looks like this:


CASTING NOTES: Maggie is played by Carole Cook, who I remember from Sixteen Candles as the grandmother who felt up Molly Ringwald.


Slammin’ Sammy’s Stunt Show Spectacular

Knight Rider: Season 1, Episode 5: Slammin’ Sammy’s Stunt Show Spectacular

I imagine the biggest challenge for the writers of Knight Rider was to come up with weekly crimes that could be solved by driving around in a car for forty minutes. I like to think that in their office, there was a whiteboard with the word CAR written on it. Underlined. Maybe with an exclamation point after it. And they would stare at the word CAR!, sometimes for hours, trying to draw fresh inspiration.

Here in Episode 5, they seem to already be scraping the bottom of the CAR! barrel. The plot revolves around a stunt car show, which takes place in a parking lot and features a couple of AMC Gremlins driving on two wheels and jumping small ramps. The stunt show has been partially bought by a shady businessman who plans to close the show and develop the parking lot into something more profitable, which, judging by the stunt show, would be just about anything. Naturally, no one is more concerned about the fate of a small-town stunt show than the multi-billion dollar Knight Foundation. After Bonnie fits KITT with improved boosters and the ability to oxygenate his interior — two things I can’t imagine him ever needing — Michael decides to join the stunt show to make sure the shady businessman doesn’t do anything shady.

Those aren’t models: they really went and crashed a Gremlin.

The businessman does something shady that results in Slammin’ Sammy getting injured while doing his show-stopping car jump through a ring of fire four feet off the ground. Michael auditions his driving skills for Sammy’s daughter, who is naturally hot (at least 80’s hot), and he becomes Sammy’s replacement. The shady businessman worries that Michael’s awesome two-wheeled driving could save the show and decides he needs to meet with an accident as well. His goon tries to sabotage KITT’s undercarriage, but KITT deflates his tires, threatening to crush the goon, who runs away.

This leads to the weird moment of the week. After the goon has fled, KITT makes a remark out loud to himself. I know people talk to themselves (I certainly do) but it seems strange for a computer to do so. Can’t KITT internalize? Is there a logical reason for him to make a snarky remark when he’s the only one around to hear it? At least we get a whimsical, lighthearted version of the Knight Rider theme to listen to as we ponder the nature of KITT and his growing electronic schizophrenia.

Michael does a new stunt for the show, jumping over a moving truck and car, which is so impressive Sammy’s daughter immediately starts making out with him. Meanwhile, the shady businessman decides Michael Knight needs to be straight-up murdered. (Reminder: this is all over the use of a parking lot.) The goon drugs Michael right before his big stunt, and Michael passes out while driving. KITT makes the jump, using his improved boosters, and resuscitates Michael using his new oxygen vent. Wow, I was wrong, those two new features came in handy almost instantly. Michael chases down one goon and interrogates him.

The script originally called for Michael to get out of KITT to interrogate the goon, but then someone looked at the whiteboard and underlined CAR again.

Michael chases down another goon, then parks KITT over a bomb the goons were planning to use to blow up the stunt show, which explodes safely under KITT’s car-butt. Sabotage, murder, terrorism… seriously, there are probably other parking lots you could buy, shady businessman.

Michael confronts the businessman, who sneeringly details all of his crimes, because why not? It’s not like this big-haired stunt driver has a wristwatch communicator and his sentient car is listening in and recording everything, right? Wrong, shady businessman. Wrong.

He gets drugged by a goon, but KITT witnessed this same goon trying to sabotage him and didn’t bother to tell Michael to beware of him, so really, this is kind of KITT’s fault.

A full-on make-out sesh with Sammy’s daughter should count as HIGH, but Sammy was not just watching but leering as they went at it, so it’s kinda gross.

Seriously, I don’t think a dad should be outraged when his daughter kisses a dude, but he shouldn’t be totally into it, either.

Two-wheeled driving, turbo boost (enhanced) (x2), tire auto deflate/inflate, suspiciously fortuitous oxygen vent

Last week’s episode featured a biker who was played by Michael Champion, who also played Richter’s right-hand goon Helm in Total Recall. Also, the woman who played the waitress Sherry last week, Anne Lockhart, did voice work for Total Recall. This week, one of the goons was played by Marc Alaimo, who played Martian Security Officer Everett in Total Recall! Plus, Total Recall also had a talking car: Johnny Cab! Stay tuned in case there are more crazy connections between Knight Rider and Total Recall! Except I just went and checked and there are no other connections, except for random industry stuntmen. So, forget I even brought it up.


Good Day At White Rock

Knight Rider: Season 1, Episode 4: Good Day at White Rock

This episode begins with Michael Knight and KITT surprising some drug dealers by crashing into their warehouse and knocking over a table covered in drugs. Which raises a question: what sort of legal authority does Michael really have? I mean, he works for a private foundation. Wouldn’t he need a warrant to enter the drug shed? Is he authorized to make actual arrests? Wouldn’t he have to appear in court to testify, thus being forced to admit he’s operating under an assumed named with false identification, and that he spends most of his time bickering with his car?

Having solved the case of Find A Table Covered In Drugs, Michael takes a rock-climbing vacation. He stops in a small town, flirts with a shopkeeper named Sherry, and takes her little brother Davey for a ride in KITT. Again, it’s the 80’s, a time when a pre-teen boy could jump into a car with a charming stranger and not immediately become the subject of a month’s worth of programming for Nancy Grace. Michael makes an illegal u-turn and is pulled over by the Sheriff, who tells him to get out of town, because he seems to be a trouble-maker. As Michael sheepishly leaves, a gang of bikers arrives and start busting up the town. The Sheriff lets them, because he is a poor Sheriff indeed.

I detect a pattern.

Michael starts rock climbing and promptly fucks that up, almost falling to his death, and KITT, about to get peed on by a dog, plays an animal sound to scare the dog away. (I can’t quite tell what the animal sound is; I think it’s supposed to be a dog but it sounds more like a lion being violently drowned.) Michael finally reaches the top of the cliff he’s climbing and finds Davey up there, somehow. After driving Davey back to town, Michael invites the biker gang leader, Scorpion, to open KITT’s door, but KITT’s door only opens when someone with Michael’s fingerprints (for example, Michael) touches the handle. Scorpion, humiliated, gets into a knife fight with Michael’s shorter, scrawnier stunt double. The Sheriff shows up and arrests Michael for stirring up things with the bikers, and impounds KITT.

KITT breaks out of car jail and Michael uses a loose thread from his jail blanket to brutally strangle the Sheriff to death. Ha ha, no! He uses the thread to snag the conveniently placed prison keys and drag them into his cell. Michael then drives to the biker camp and disguises himself as a biker, so that he may walk among them and learn their secrets.

To date, Michael’s disguises have not worked for even one second, and here he is trying to blend in with a gang of about ten bikers, a close knit group of men who spend all of their time together. Will anyone notice the recent addition of an eight foot tall biker that they’ve never seen before?

What can I say? The man loves dressing up.

Astoundingly (disappointingly?) the disguise works, and Michael discovers the bikers are planning a war with a second biker gang. One biker mentions Sherry and says “I still want to party her,” which I guess is how you said “rape” on 80’s TV. Davey, the child who constantly needs a ride and yet can apparently teleport himself anywhere he wishes, appears in the middle of the biker camp and gets captured. Michael and Sherry drive to the camp the next morning and rescue Davey, and KITT leads the bikers on a merry chase. He knocks several bikers over, and jumps over a lake.

We’re meant to believe this was a smooth landing.

Easily the most baffling and enjoyable moment of the show is when one of the bikers, who is wearing a priest’s collar, is so damn excited to be chasing KITT that he yells out “HYPERSPAAAAACE!”

Was yelling “HYPERSPACE!” in excitement ever a real thing? If so, we need to bring it back. If not, we need to simply bring it. I am going to make an effort to yell HYPERSPACE when excited about things from now on, and I would ask that you do as well. Let’s change the world, together.

KITT leads the bikers back to town, and the Sheriff finally steps into his role as a law enforcement authority by calling in reinforcements from neighboring towns and arresting the bikers for numerous violations of state and local codes. Ha ha, no! The Sheriff just ties a big rope across the road, clothes-lining all of the bikers off their bikes and causing them serious, perhaps even fatal injuries. Michael makes out with Sherry and takes her on vacation, leaving Davey alone to (presumably) die a few days later when the surviving bikers violently retaliate.

Gets run out of town by a podunk Sheriff, falls while rock climbing, gets arrested.

Totally makes out with Sherry! And goes on vacation with her, so he probably scored.

Broadcasts animal sounds, possible use of turbo boost, fingerprint-activated door locks

KNIGHT RIDER | Television

Deadly Maneuvers

I’m watching the 80’s TV show Knight Rider on Netflix, and it only now occurs to me that Knight Rider is probably considered science fiction. I mean, there’s an intelligent talking car, right? That’s science fiction. But it feels more like a shoddy detective show about a pretty incompetent detective. Anyway, on to the episode!

Season 1, Episode 3: Deadly Maneuvers

En route to a mission, Michael Knight stops to help an Army lieutenant, Robin Ladd, who is having car trouble. He drives her to her Army base where she finds out her Army father has been killed after driving off a cliff. Robin points out that her dad was good at driving, and that she couldn’t remember a single instance of him driving off a cliff and dying before. Seems fishy. The investigation begins.

After finding a spent shell casing near the crash site, Michael bribes a food truck owner to borrow his apron and paper hat, so he can infiltrate the Army base disguised as a giant handsome food-selling person. Predictably, his shitty disguise fools no one and he’s immediately arrested by military police.

Luckily, his interrogation takes place in an office that contains a single folder that might as well be labeled “THAT ARMY LADY’S FATHER AND HOW HE DIED IN A CRASH”. He gives the MP’s free candy bars, knowing they will weirdly walk into a corner and face the wall to eat. They do, and Michael slyly takes the folder, which mentions that Robin’s dad had blue paint on his hands when he died.

Michael and Robin go to dinner, they joke and chat about a few things, and eventually get around to discussing the details of her father’s recent horrible tragic murder. They quickly decide that spending part of an afternoon investigating was plenty, and that they should just give up. However, some evil Army guys try to kill Michael that night, so he reopens the case.

We then meet KITT’s mechanic, Bonnie, who, as a ten-year old Knight Rider viewer, I decided was the most beautiful woman in existence. I had a major crush on Bonnie. I pretty much spent all my free time fantasizing that Bonnie and I would get married, she’d fix my talking car, and I WOULD KISS HER MOUTH WITH MY MOUTH.

Can I run my fingers through your hair? It will take a while.

Michael breaks into the ammunition bunker at the Army base. Well, he walks into the ammunition bunker. Hey, here are some facts about the ammunition bunker.

  • It is completely unguarded
  • It is completely unlocked
  • It contains several hundred crates of artillery shells.

Here are some facts about the artillery shells.

  • The armor piercing artillery shells are painted with a blue stripe
  • The tactical nuclear artillery shells are painted with a yellow stripe
  • There is otherwise no way to tell the difference between the two types of WAIT DID I JUST SAY TACTICAL NUCLEAR ARTILLERY SHELLS
  • Yes, I did.
  • Did I mention they were kept in an unlocked unguarded room in a bunch of crates? Okay.

Still with me? Michael discovers that blue paint was used to cover up yellow paint on some nuke shells, and that a bunch of evil Army guys were smuggling the painted nukes out to sell them, and that Robin’s dad was killed when he discovered the plan. Robin, meanwhile, is snooping around, and gets locked in a tank on the ordinance testing range by her evil Army boss. Michael then drives KITT out onto the artillery range to save Robin, while stock footage of artillery guns shoot at them.

The Army general running the evil scheme orders three heat-seeking missiles fired at KITT, because heat seeking missiles can hone in on warm car engines, I guess? Michael uses KITT’s “rocket booster”, which I assume is different than his turbo boost, because it doesn’t launch KITT in the air, it just makes him poop out flames onto some grass, distracting two of the heat seekers.

Trivia: KITT is the first sentient car to light a fart on national television, paving the way for countless others

The third heat seeker blows up the food truck from the beginning of the show, which is putting out extra heat because of a broken thermostat. Look, I don’t know, I can’t explain, I’m just reporting this to you. Michael rescues Robin, and chases the general who is trying to escape in a giant slow-moving tank. KITT poops fire onto it, melting the treads, and the general is caught. The episode ends with KITT sporting a “GO ARMY!” bumper sticker, because the producers of Knight Rider want to let the Army know that they really do like the Army, despite depicting them in this episode as a network of lying murdering nuke-smuggling terrorists.

Disguises himself as food vendor, fools no one, is immediately arrested, but at least manages to steal a file.

Walks arm-in-arm with Lieutenant Robin Ladd, but doesn’t get a kiss.

Video game console (Michael plays a racing game while KITT drives), rocket booster (poops fire)

KNIGHT RIDER | Television

Knight of the Phoenix, Part 2

Season 1, Episode 2: Knight of the Phoenix, Part 2

How can we tell Knight Rider was made in the early 1980’s? When Michael escorts a waitress to a demolition derby, and her young son Buddy immediately disappears, no one is worried. “He’ll turn up,” Michael says, showing off his crack investigative skills by turning his head slightly to the left for one second to look around. Such an innocent, carefree decade, when a young boy could wander away at a crowded auto race and nobody immediately jumped to the conclusion that he’d been abducted/run over.

Another sign of the 80’s: Michael often has the sleeves of his leather jacket pushed up to mid-forearm.

We did this with our blazers and sport coats, too. God, we were terrible.

Anyway, in Part 2 of the series premiere, Michael Knight and KITT are hot on the trail of a gang of evil Silicon Valley masterminds who brutally murder cops, callously commit acts of industrial espionage, and fiendishly sponsor demolition derbies for charity. Michael and KITT have entered the race and Buddy, the irascible scamp that he is, has stowed away in KITT’s back seat and pops up mid-derby. KITT finally starts pulling his weight as a super-science car by driving on two wheels, which has the strange scientific side-effect of making Michael suddenly appear to be a heavyset middle-aged stunt driver wearing a giant black wig over a helmet.

Buddy, meanwhile, has turned into a mannequin who is, inexplicably, also wearing a giant black wig

More of KITT’s science powers are revealed during the derby, like oil slicks and smoke screens, plus the turbo boost (though it’s not called the turbo boost yet) which allows him to launch himself through the air as if flying off a ramp. All of the other cars get smashed up, Michael wins the race, and he tells the evil Tanya (the woman who shot him) that he’s interested in selling his science car, hoping to lure her into a trap. Tanya discusses it with her evil partner, and they agree that, yeah, Michael is definitely a cop.

Michael stops to use a pay phone (80’s!) to call Devon Miles, and the comical hoodlums from Part 1 show up and steal KITT. KITT drives them to a police station, where he demonstrates yet another power, the ability to throw ethnic caricatures out of himself using slide-whistle technology.

After some good-natured bickering that will become their hallmark, Michael and KITT head to a bar where Michael gets into a fight with all the other derby drivers. Another 80’s staple of television and film is utilized, as the fight is just a montage of goons getting thrown through doors, across tables, and onto floors, with no actual shots of punching. Michael is arrested and KITT is towed to COMTRON (the evil company) headquarters.

Michael’s response to being pestered by this guy: “Sit and spin.” Burn.

KITT escapes COMTRON by driving through a window, then bashes through the prison wall to free Michael. They drive back to COMTRON, and KITT ejects Michael onto a ten-story roof, this time silently (I guess the slide-whistle only works on minorities?). Michael reveals to Tanya that he is really Michael Long, and a security guard shoots him in the shoulder. He overpowers another guard named Baker and takes his uniform to fool everyone into thinking he is Baker, a clever ruse that works for literally zero seconds. Seriously, his plan fails so immediately it must be seen to be believed:

I love this for two reasons. First, it’s always good to see a classic good-guy plan shut down before it can begin. Secondly, the evil murdering boss is familiar enough with his security thugs that he not only knows their names, he can recognize their voices. It’s sweet. I bet every time he comes in for an evil day of work, he says “Morning, Baker! How’s Francine and little Emily?” And he’s genuinely interested, because he’s the evil boss who cares.

Michael escapes the building and is immediately captured by yet another guard, but KITT comes to the rescue. They drive to the airport to catch the evil COMTRON people, who send a fleet of evil truck drivers to intercept them, but KITT just turbo-boosts through one truck and over another. At the airport, Michael crashes KITT into the fleeing COMTRON jet, disabling it. Tanya runs over to KITT and tries to shoot Michael in the face again, but the bullet bounces off KITT’s window and kills her instead. The cops arrive and arrest all the bad people. Michael decides being a crime fighter with a talking car is a good idea, and the deceased Wilton Knight uses The Force to talk inside Michael’s head, reminding him that one man CAN make a difference.

In these episodes, KITT’s body and interior constantly look smudged and filthy. Will they hire someone to wipe him down between takes in later shows? Discuss.

Tally for the premiere episodes:

He’s shot in the face, drives through a wall, falls asleep at the wheel, blows his cover, loses a boy, has his car stolen, gets arrested for brawling, allows KITT to be towed, gets shot again, strips a guard naked to steal his uniform and fools absolutely no one, and gets caught by another guard. Not a great start.

Gets a kiss on the cheek from a waitress.

Collision detection, two-wheel driving, oil slick, smoke screen, turbo boost (x4), ejection system (with comical whistle for ethnics), bulletproof everything, dual sunroof

KNIGHT RIDER | Television

Knight of the Phoenix, Part 1

I recently noticed that the 1980’s television show Knight Rider is on Netflix Instant. I was about 10 when this show came out, and I loved it, because what wasn’t to love? David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight was cool, wore a leather jacket, had huge hair, solved crimes for pretty ladies and then kissed them, and drove a talking black Pontiac Trans Am named KITT that was made out of SCIENCE. For a little boy, the only thing that could have made Knight Rider any better would have been if Michael Knight had also had a pet dinosaur.

I watched it religiously back then, but I’m sad to say I don’t remember a heck of a lot of specific details about it now. It’s all sort of a vague, shadowy blur of turbo boosts, that vooh-vooh noise KITT makes when it thinks, and the recollection that Michael Knight and KITT both had evil twins at some point. So, I thought I might watch a few episodes to see if it’s actually a decent show, or if I was just a stupid kid.

Season 1, Episode 1: Knight of the Phoenix, Part 1

I’ve watched the opening few minutes of this show twice, and I still can’t tell what’s really going on. There’s Detective Michael Long, his partner (who is disguised as an electrician), a woman stealing secret plans from a casino hotel room, Michael’s boss who is working with Michael and also working with the thief-woman, an old gambler who Michael is protecting from something, and the old gambler’s wife who is working with Michael’s boss and the thief-woman. Everyone follows each other around and talks into wristwatch communicators, then Michael’s partner gets shot in the parking lot by Michael’s boss’s henchman, then Michael gets shot in the face by the old gambler’s wife in the desert. This all happens in about four minutes.


Michael is taken by helicopter to a sprawling mansion, where an old man named Wilton Knight gives Michael a new, surgically altered face, changes his last name to Knight, and has Michael Long declared dead, all without asking Michael’s permission. The plan: to turn Michael Knight into a crime fighter, a man capable of taking down the criminals the law can’t touch, by giving him a Trans Am filled with computers. Michael demonstrates to his new employer, Devon Miles, what a great choice he is for the task by immediately driving the car through a fucking wall.

Wilton Knight dies, Michael Knight puts on a red mock turtleneck and a black leather jacket, and heads out to find the woman who shot him, who is working in– as Devon puts it– “a place called Silicon Valley.” Ooh, sounds futuristic. En route, Michael discovers that his car can talk. The Knight Industries Two Thousand, or KITT, introduces himself, and Michael, rather than being completely amazed by his talking car, is just slightly annoyed. He tells KITT to shut up, drives away, and promptly falls asleep at the wheel. Luckily, KITT can drive himself, though there’s some comical business where Michael has to pretend he’s a deaf man with an injured neck to fool some cops who pull him over (I don’t really feel like explaining it any more than that).


Michael reaches Silicon Valley and visits a restaurant where the woman thief from the casino happens to be hanging out. He tries to slyly get some information from a hot waitress, arousing the suspicions of the thief, who calls the people who shot him, who immediately decide he must be a cop. Smooth, Michael. You’ve got a new name and a new face and yet you’ve been made six minutes after arriving in town. Meanwhile, in the parking lot, a duo of adorably offensive stereotypes spot KITT and excitedly plan to steal him later.


Michael follows the waitress home where he discovers the same people who shot him also killed the waitress’s husband, and she and Michael team up to bring down the whole evil Silicon Valley crew. Michael meets the waitress’s son, Buddy, who says adorable TV kid things, like “Are you gonna marry my Mom?” causing everyone to smile, because kids, they’re such awkward dicks. Michael tries to figure a way to get closer to the people who shot him, and it turns out they’re sponsoring a demolition derby. Hey, that’s convenient, since he has an indestructible car and all. The demolition derby is tomorrow, also convenient, because if it had been, say, yesterday, he’d have to spend 364 days sitting around the waitresses’ shitty apartment, hoping like hell it was an annual event.

That’s the end of the first episode. Something I noticed about Michael Knight that completely escaped me as a kid: he’s ridiculously incompetent. In the space of forty minutes, he gets his face shot off, drives through a wall, falls asleep while driving, and blows his cover. I’ll have to keep an eye on this in future episodes, and see if he continues to be the worst secret detective agent with a talking car ever.

KITT doesn’t do much in this episode, but I remember, as a kid, being in awe of KITT’s digital speedometer. That seemed like the coolest thing back in 1982. I still don’t have a digital speedometer. My odometer is digital, but it’s not really that exciting.