Knight Rider: The Complete Series – 40th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Mar 08, 2023
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Knight Rider: The Complete Series – 40th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Director

Various

Release Date(s)

Various (December 30, 2022)

Studio(s)

Glen A Larson Productions/Universal Television (Turbine Medien)
  • Film/Program Grade: B
  • Video Grade: A
  • Audio Grade: A
  • Extras Grade: A
  • Overall Grade: A+

Review

[Editor's Note: This is a Region-Free German Blu-ray import.]

Prior to his success in Baywatch many years later, David Hasselhoff became a household name with Knight Rider, which was a big hit for NBC in the early 1980s. The show ran for four seasons from 1982 to 1986 and a had line of merchandise that included toys, video games, board games, lunch boxes, and model kits, among other items. It was a big hit, yet none of the spin-offs and reboots that came in its wake could capture the magic of the original show. Developed by Glen A. Larson (who also had a hand in creating memorable TV shows like Battlestar Galactica, Magnum P.I., The Fall Guy, and B.J. and the Bear), it gained even further popularity in syndication, entering the pop culture lexicon and featuring one of the most iconic cars of the era, as well as one of the coolest opening theme songs ever.

Michael Long, an undercover police officer at a Las Vegas casino, is seemingly killed and left for dead after being shot in the face once his cover is blown. He’s subsequently saved and revived by private billionaire Wilton Knight (Richard Basehart), who has Michael’s face reconstructed surgically. Founder of Knight Industries and F.L.A.G. (Foundation for Law and Government), Knight, along with his assistant and close friend Devon Miles (Edward Mulhare), give Michael the new identity of Michael Knight (Hasselhoff). They ask him to join their organization, which is equipped with the best and latest technology, to fight and defeat the criminal underworld. Among their arsenal is K.I.T.T. (Knight Industries Two Thousand), an artificially intelligent Pontiac Trans Am (featuring the voice of William Daniels) that’s virtually indestructible and can aid Michael in his quest. Initially reluctant, Michael and K.I.T.T. eventually bond, driving from place to place and helping the innocent in a crusade against the injustices of the world.

Knight Rider was shot over the course of four years by cinematographers H. John Penner and Frank Beascoechea using Panavision Panaflex cameras, finished photochemically, and presented on television in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The show has been released on DVD and Blu-ray a couple of times, but Turbine Medien’s new Region-Free Blu-ray boxed set features, for the first time, all four seasons of the show in their original, uncut forms. All episodes are now outfitted with their original preview openings, opening and closing credit sequences, and soundtracks. For the first time on home video, all of the show’s original music has been re-instated. Previous releases had their share of technical errors and missing sound effects, all of which have also been addressed here. All four seasons and extras are spread across twenty-three, Region-Free, BD-50 discs.

Like a lot of TV shows of this vintage, Knight Rider was shot quickly and efficiently. As such, there will inevitably be minor variances in color temperatures and grain, as well as a softness during transitions. That said, this is the cleanest and sharpest the show has ever looked. Grain is handled well with a bitrate that sits comfortably in the mid to upper 30s most of the time. Saturation is more robust and even keeled than when the show originally aired, never mind in re-runs. Blacks are mostly deep with good shadow detail, although grain is definitely visible at times. Everything appears natural and organic to its source with only mild speckling and lines running through the frame. It may have visual flaws built in because of the technology at the time and the speed at which it was produced, but it’s doubtful that it could be improved upon any further. It looks fantastic.

The audio for the first three seasons of the show is presented in German and English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD Master Audio, with the fourth (as originally aired) presented in German and English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD Master Audio. Optional German and English subtitles are also provided. (Two episodes from the fourth season, Knight of the Juggernaut and Burial Ground, are in mono only.) Each and every audio track has been painstakingly remastered by Turbine. The results, as expected, are excellent. Despite the majority of the show’s single-channel audio, plenty of support is provided for sound effects and score, always with perfectly discernible dialogue exchanges. It gets kicked up a notch in season four with terrific stereo spread, especially for music and the score. Having the show’s theme song in full stereo is really something, especially on headphones. All of the tracks are clean and problem-free.

The following episodes and extras are included on each disc:

DISC ONE (SEASON ONE: EPISODES 1-4)

  1. Knight of the Phoenix (Parts 1 & 2) (96:00)
  2. Deadly Maneuvers (48:53)
  3. Good Day at White Rock (48:47)
  • Audio Commentary on Knight of the Phoenix with David Hasselhoff and Glen A. Larson

DISC TWO (SEASON ONE: EPISODES 5-8)

  1. Slammin' Sammy's Stunt Show Spectacular (48:38)
  2. Just My Bill (48:47)
  3. Not a Drop to Drink (48:47)
  4. No Big Thing (48:10)

DISC THREE (SEASON ONE: EPISODES 9-12)

  1. Trust Doesn't Rust (47:50)
  2. Inside Out (48:48)
  3. The Final Verdict (48:48)
  4. A Plush Ride (48:49)

DISC FOUR (SEASON ONE: EPISODES 13-17)

  1. Forget Me Not (48:52)
  2. Hearts of Stone (48:28)
  3. Give Me Liberty... or Give Me Death (48:48)
  4. The Topaz Connection (48:50)
  5. A Nice, Indecent Little Town (48:49)

DISC FIVE (SEASON ONE – EPISODES 18-22)

  1. Chariot of Gold (48:49)
  2. White Bird (48:45)
  3. Knight Moves (48:50)
  4. Nobody Does It Better (48:50)
  5. Short Notice (48:50)

DISC SIX (SEASON TWO – EPISODES 1-4)

  1. Goliath (Parts 1 & 2) (96:35)
  2. Brother's Keeper (48:39)
  3. Merchants of Death (48:38)

DISC SEVEN (SEASON TWO – EPISODES 5-9)

  1. Blind Spot (48:39)
  2. Return to Cadiz (48:38)
  3. K.I.T.T. the Cat (48:39)
  4. Custom K.I.T.T. (48:38)
  5. Soul Survivor (48:39)

DISC EIGHT (SEASON TWO – EPISODES 10-14)

  1. Ring of Fire (48:39)
  2. Knightmares (48:36)
  3. Silent Knight (47:38)
  4. A Knight in Shining Armor (48:37)
  5. Diamonds Aren't a Girl's Best Friend (48:37)

DISC NINE (SEASON TWO – EPISODES 15-19)

  1. White-Line Warriors (48:35)
  2. Race for Life (48:37)
  3. Speed Demons (48:36)
  4. Goliath Returns (Parts 1 & 2) (97:00)

DISC TEN (SEASON TWO – EPISODES 20-24)

  1. A Good Knight's Work (48:38)
  2. Mouth of the Snake/All That Glitters (97:01)
  3. Let It Be Me (48:37)
  4. Big Iron (48:37)

DISC ELEVEN (SEASON THREE – EPISODES 1-4)

  1. Knight of the Drones (Parts 1 & 2) (96:22)
  2. The Ice Bandits (48:28)
  3. Knights of the Fast Lane (48:29)

DISC TWELVE (SEASON THREE – EPISODES 5-8)

  1. Halloween Knight (48:29)
  2. K.I.T.T. vs. K.A.R.R. (48:29)
  3. The Rotten Apples (48:26)
  4. Knight in Disgrace (48:29)

DISC THIRTEEN (SEASON THREE – EPISODES 9-12)

  1. Dead of Knight (48:29)
  2. Lost Knight (48:28)
  3. Knight of the Chameleon (48:26)
  4. Custom Made Killer (47:56)

DISC FOURTEEN (SEASON THREE – EPISODES 13-17)

  1. Knight by a Nose (48:28)
  2. Junk Yard Dog (48:18)
  3. Buy Out (48:25)
  4. Knightlines (48:27)
  5. The Nineteenth Hole (48:29)

DISC FIFTEEN (SEASON THREE – EPISODES 18-22)

  1. Knight & Knerd (47:57)
  2. Ten Wheel Trouble (48:23)
  3. Knight in Retreat (48:27)
  4. Knight Strike (48:27)
  5. Circus Knights (48:30)

DISC SIXTEEN (SEASON FOUR – EPISODES 1-4)

  1. Knight of the Juggernaut (Parts 1 & 2) (96:55)
  2. Kittnap (48:22)
  3. Sky Knight (48:27)

DISC SEVENTEEN (SEASON FOUR – EPISODES 5-8)

  1. Burial Ground (48:23)
  2. The Wrong Crowd (48:26)
  3. Knight Sting (48:24)
  4. Many Happy Returns (48:24)

DISC EIGHTEEN (SEASON FOUR – EPISODES 9-13)

  1. Knight Racer (48:27)
  2. Knight Behind Bars (48:25)
  3. Knight Song (48:24)
  4. The Scent of Roses (48:21)
  5. Killer K.I.T.T. (48:21)

DISC NINETEEN (SEASON FOUR – EPISODES 14-17)

  1. Out of the Woods (48:24)
  2. Deadly Knightshade (48:30)
  3. Redemption of a Champion (48:29)
  4. Knight of a Thousand Devils (48:28)

DISC TWENTY (SEASON FOUR – EPISODES 18-22)

  1. Hills of Fire (48:31)
  2. Knight Flight to Freedom (48:29)
  3. Fright Knight (48:29)
  4. Knight of the Rising Sun (48:29)
  5. Voo Doo Knight (48:29)

DISC TWENTY-ONE (BONUS DISC – EXTRAS)

  • Road Music: An Interview with Composer Stu Phillips (HD – 11:22)
  • A Spring in Her Step: Rebecca Holden Recalls April Curtis (HD – 17:29)
  • A Man and His Horse: Steven E. de Souza on Knight Rider (HD – 31:35)
  • The Unknown Stunt Man: Jack Gill on the Challenges of Driving a Legend (HD – 33:41)
  • Writing for Prime Time: Deborah Davis Remembers Knight Rider (HD – 17:04)
  • A Kit for Small Screen Success: Tom Greene and the Knight Rider Phenomenon (HD – 49:34)
  • KnightCon 2011 with Tom Greene (HD – 27:59)
  • MyKitt.de: The Fulfillment of a Childhood Dream (HD – 12:44)
  • Knight Rider: Under the Hood (SD – 15:52)
  • Knight Sounds (SD – 6:39)
  • Knight Stunts (SD – 6:09)
  • Sketch Gallery (SD – 3:10)
  • Photo Gallery (SD – 2:56)
  • K.I.T.T. Owner’s Manual (HD – 3:03)

DISC TWENTY-TWO (KNIGHT RIDER 2000 & KNIGHT RIDER 2010)

  • Knight Rider 2000 (HD – 95:08)
  • Knight Rider 2010 (HD – 90:37)

DISC TWENTY-THREE (TEAM KNIGHT RIDER: THE COMPLETE SERIES)

  1. Fallen Nation (SD – 42:35)
  2. The Magnificent T.K.R. (SD – 41:39)
  3. The A List (SD – 42:35)
  4. K.R.O. (SD – 41:36)
  5. Inside Traitor (SD – 41:42)
  6. Choctaw L-9 (SD – 41:41)
  7. Everything to Fear (SD – 41:21)
  8. Sky One (SD – 41:42)
  9. The Iron Maiden (SD – 41:10)
  10. Oil & Water (SD – 41:07)
  11. Et Tu Dante (SD – 41:39)
  12. The Bad Seed (SD – 41:11)
  13. Out of the Past (SD – 41:39)
  14. The Return of Megaman (SD – 41:38)
  15. Angels in Chains (SD – 41:41)
  16. The Blonde Woman (SD – 41:24)
  17. The Ixtafa Affair (SD – 41:11)
  18. Home Away From Home (SD – 41:40)
  19. EMP (SD – 43:56)
  20. Apocalypse Maybe (SD – 41:11)
  21. Spy Girls (SD – 41:09)
  22. Legion of Doom (SD – 41:03)

(Knight of the Phoenix, Goliath, Goliath Returns, Mouth of the Snake/All That Glitters, Knight of the Drones, and Knight of the Juggernaut all originally aired in two-hour timeslots, but were later separated for syndication. They’re presented here as they were intended.)

All of the legacy extras carry over from the previous DVD and Blu-ray releases of the show, and Turbine has also included several new interviews. Road Music speaks to composer Stu Phillips about the music he provided for the show, A Spring in Her Step features actress Rebecca Holden discussing her role as April Curtis during the second season, A Man and His Horse talks to writer and producer Steven E. de Souza about his tenure on the show, The Unknown Stunt Man speaks to actor and stunt coordinator Jack Gill about the challenges of performing stunts for the show, Writing for Prime Time and A Kit for Small Screen Success talk to writers Deborah Davis and Tom Greene about their time writing for the show, KnightCon 2011 features an introductory welcome video by Tom Greene that was shown at a convention for the show in October of 2011, and MyKitt.de features superfan Andreas Winkler who owns a very impressive replica of K.I.T.T. The other extras consist of featurettes originally created for the show’s DVD releases, two full-motion still galleries, and a K.I.T.T. Owner’s Manual that details the workings of the car.

Also included are the TV movies Knight Rider 2000 from 1991 and Knight Rider 2010 from 1994. The former is a continuation of the original series featuring David Hasselhoff, William Daniels, and Edward Mulhare, while the latter has almost nothing to do with the original show whatsoever, outside of the fact that there’s a talking car. Neither of these films are very interesting or entertaining, but since they’re a part of the franchise, their inclusion is essential. Both are sourced from very ancient HD masters, the former looking a minuscule more natural and resolved than the latter. Included on the last disc is the Team Knight Rider TV series in its 22-episode entirety, though only in standard definition. The quality is surprisingly good considering that each episode runs close to 42 minutes, which is roughly 16 hours of content. Take note that this disc initially appears to be locked out of every Region as it won’t load normally, but if you press the menu button on your remote, the main menu will appear and you can access the disc’s contents.

It’s also worth noting that the Code of Vengeance TV movie and 4-episode TV series spin-offs, as well as the Knight Rider 2008 TV movie and series reboot, have not been included, but considering what you get in this set, there’s little room for complaint at this point.

All of the discs are housed in five separate fold-out slipcases, four of which contain the show’s four season run, and when laid out alongside each other, reveal a side view of K.I.T.T. Alongside these are two double-sided posters featuring Knight Rider artwork on one side and David Hasselhoff on the reverse; a K.I.T.T. dashboard layout concept art card reproduction; six pressbook photo reproductions; further reproductions of Michael’s driver’s license, social security card, government identification, press pass, and vehicle registration; and two stickers, one featuring the Knight Industries logo and the other featuring the F.L.A.G. logo. Also included is a 334-page book entitled Knight Guide, which is completely stuffed with everything you could possibly want to know about the show, but it’s in German so unless you speak it, you’ll need to use a translator application on your phone to read it. All of this material is housed in deluxe 10 x 12 slipcase packaging and is limited and numbered, with only 3,939 pieces being made available.

It should very obvious by now, but this is a gorgeous and well put together boxed set that fans of Knight Rider are going to want on their shelves; not just for the swag, but for the incredible uptick in video and audio quality, as well as all of the shows in their originally-aired forms. Knight Rider is still going strong these many years later, and this set is definitely proof of that. It’s a beautiful release. Highly recommended.

Knight Rider: The Complete Series (Blu-ray)

- Tim Salmons

(You can follow Tim on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook. And be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel here.)

 

Tags

40th Anniversary Edition, action, adventure, Alan J Levi, Alex Beaton, April Curtis, Badja Djola, Barry B Leirer, Billy Dickson, Blu-ray, Blu-ray Disc, Bonnie Barstow, box set, boxed set, boxset, Brion James, Bruce Davison, Carmen Argenziano, Charles E Sellier Productions, Charles Sellier, Chris Bonno, Christopher Tyng, Code of Vengeance, crime, David Andron, David Bartis, David Hasselhoff, Deanna Russo, Devon Miles, Don McManus, Don Peake, Doug Liman, drama, Dutch Oven, Dutch Oven Productions, Edward Mulhare, Eugene Clark, fantasy, FLAG, Francis Guinan, Gary Scott Thompson, Gary Scott Thompson Productions, Glen A Larson, Glen A Larson Productions, Glen Larson, Greg Ellis, Heidi Leick, Jack J Yang, James Bartle, James Doohan, Jamie Barber, Jan Hammer, John Leekley, John Leekley Productions, Justin Bruening, Kevin Dunigan, KITT, Knight 4000, Knight Industries Two Thousand, Knight Rider, Knight Rider 2000, Knight Rider The Complete Series, Kris Krosskove, Lou Beatty Jr, made-for-television, made-for-TV, Marc Ceccarelli, Mark Pellegrino, Matt Pyken, MCA TV, Megan Butler, Michael Beach, Michael Knight, Michele Brustin, Mitch Pileggi, Morton Stevens, NBC, NBC Universal Television, NBC Universal Television Distribution, Nicky Katt, Patricia McPherson, Paul Campbell, Peter Cullen, Peter Parros, RA Cinader, Rebecca Holden, Region Free, review, Richard Basehart, Richard Joseph Paul, River Rock Productions, Rob Cohen, Rob Hedden, Robert F Cawley, Robert Foster, Sam Pillsbury, sci-fi, science fiction, show, Skip Schoolnik, Smith Cho, Steve Shill, Stu Phillips, Susan Gibney, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Team Knight Rider, television film, television movie, television series, The Complete Series, The Digital Bits, thriller, Tim Salmons, Tim Truman, Turbine, Turbine Medien, TV, TV film, TV movie, TV series, TV show, Universal, Universal Media Studios, Universal Pictures, Universal Television, Val Kilmer, Wayne Kasserman, William Daniels, Yancey Arias

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