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.
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.
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.
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!
MICHAEL’S INCOMPETENCE: MEDIUM
Allows car-driving assassin to out-drive him, lets Maggie’s body leave town when he’s supposed to be guarding it.
MICHAEL’S ROMANCE: LOW
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.