The most recent episode of Knight Rider was, in my opinion, always going to be the do or die for this show, the axing of several major characters, the revelation of Mike's past (no real shocker there though) and references to the original show galore, not least of which was the return (albeit heavily modified) of K.A.R.R.
Okay, so I guess the first thing to do is get the negative points out of the way. Lets see, oh yeah, a giant freaking robot death machine transformer!
Don't get me wrong, the effects were cool, and K.A.R.R. really did have to be substantially different from K.I.T.T. in this version, but I still have just as much trouble suspending my disbelief at this as I did when they first brought up the blueprints for it a few episodes back. I'm not going to say any more on this, as I must admit, my own personal feelings on the concept aside, it was pretty cool and undeserving of a rant.
Perhaps more annoying to me was the early activities of Sarah Graiman. I know it was supposed to be a sort of spiralling out of control moment after her father's death, and Mike trying to save her and all that, but this just felt forced, not to mention that whole 'realising her responsibility and destiny' moment.
However, once this is out of the way, her character and all the characters really do pick up, its like the latter part of the show was written by someone else, the interactions and character features really make you warm to the core characters (or at least it seems they are core, since they are still in the show). Its warm, fun and the banter between Billy and Zoe is awesome, you really get that feeling of a close knit group heroes (some more obviously heroic than others) working together to use their bad @ss super car to save the world one bit at a time that made the original so appealing.
That warm fuzzy feeling and the little chuckles that come from the team interactions are a vital part of what the show needs, but so are the action scenes, and this episode, though slow to start, really gave the feeling of Mike as a crack soldier, even without the car. The music for these scenes was not to my taste, but the action, explosions and all, was great. Even better, the use of non-lethal force was a great move, bringing the show back to its roots and displaying Mike and the team as exactly what they should be, true blue, over the top, heroes, not gritty realistic anti-heroes. The show should after all, leave you feeling good, not jumping at shadows.
Now, the thing I've been really wanting to get to, the references to the original show. I know I've already mentioned my personal dislike of K.A.R.R.'s new image, but I can also quite honestly say that this sort of tough bad guy is much needed every now and again, and K.A.R.R. was the right choice for the first, being the iconic nemesis for K.I.T.T. that honestly, Goliath never was (that was more about a nemesis for the Hoff).
Even better, the voice casting for K.A.R.R., the same man who acted as the original voice of K.A.R.R. in "Trust doesn't Rust" (replaced later by Paul Frees in K.I.T.T. VS K.A.R.R. I think, don't quote me) and the only voice right for a kick-@ss transforming robot auto-mobile, Peter Cullen (OPTIMUS PRIME!). The sound of that voice, so cold, so full of menace, so powerful and so utterly determined to not let anything stand in his way, I don't care if it was a blatant play to get the fan-boys (of both Transformers and the original Knight Rider, both of which I loved and still love) on side, it was a great move.
Add to this the possible return of F.L.A.G. (Foundation for Law And Government) and Wilton Knight's original dream for the foundation, to serve just and the good of the world (though primarily the nation) and as such, the change in the direction the moral compass of the organisation will point, and I get a genuinely good feeling about where the show is heading.
In short, a closer, sm