'Knight Rider' Premiere Set; Arnett to Voice KITT

TVWeek's James Hibberd: Rated

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NBC has set Feb. 17 as the premiere date for its two-hour "Knight Rider" revamp and announced that Will Arnett ("Arrested Development") will provide the voice of the new KITT car. NBC also has released official images of the crime-fighting super-vehicle, below (thankfully, NBC's latest product placement-mobile is a Ford Mustang, not a Nissan Rogue).

The movie stars Justin Bruening ("Cold Case"), Deanna Russo ("NCIS"), Sydney Tamiia Poitier ("Grindhouse") and Bruce Davison ("Close to Home"). Yes, David Hasselhoff will make a cameo in his original role of Michael Knight. He's billed in the press release as a "Special Guest Star," a term that recalls the '80s love.

The new KITT car will have some "Transformers"-like shape-shifting abilities (the story's scientific explanation: "nanotechnology"). Thus, three cars will be used: The "KITT Hero" (a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR playing the "everyday Hero car"), the "KITT Attack" (a high-speed version of the Hero car) and a "KITT Remote" (a driverless version). Dave Bartis ("The O.C.") and Doug Liman ("The Bourne Identity") serve as executive producers.

NBC has ordered "Rider" as a stand-alone movie. The network will gauge viewer reaction to the event and decide whether to order a full "Rider" series. Haunting this plan: "Bionic Woman"—NBC's other revamp of a campy action series that premiered this season.

If "Bionic" was judged solely on its towering premiere numbers, heavily populated by the curious and nostalgic, the network would have thought it had a hit on its hands. Then again, one assumes (always dangerous, but let's go with it) that NBC has learned a thing or two from its unique "Bionic" production troubles.

Here's the "Rider" movie's plot summary from the release: "Sarah Graiman (Russo) is a 24-year-old Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University, following in her genius father Charles' (Davison) footsteps. But when men attempt to abduct her, Sarah receives a mysterious call from KITT warning her that he's a creation of Charles, who also invented the first KITT 25 years ago—and that her father is in serious danger. Sarah and KITT track down her best friend from childhood, Mike Tracer (Bruening), a 23-year-old ex-Army Ranger, whom Sarah hasn't seen since he left home at 18. Having served in Iraq, Mike is now jaded and lost and initially resistant. Eventually he agrees to help Sarah and the two set out to discover who's behind the attempt to procure KITT and find Charles."

A bitter Iraq War veteran joining forces with KITT? Heck, that dialogue writes itself: "If only we had some shape-shifting Ford Mustangs in Fallujah, the insurgents would have never wiped out my unit."
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