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The Top 5 Knight Rider Season 1 Episodes

November 27, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Knight Rider

The Top 5 Knight Rider Season 1 Episodes


Knight Rider, which ran on NBC for four seasons (1982-1986), is one of my favorite TV shows of all time and is, probably, my favorite one hour drama TV show of all time (there are days where it’s a toss-up between Knight Rider and the original Law & Order). Starring David Hasselhoff, Knight Rider told the story of Michael Knight (Hasselhoff), an ex-cop turned agent of the Foundation for Law and Government, a private entity that fought crime. Driving around in a souped-up black Trans Am with an advanced artificial intelligence known as the Knight Industries Two Thousand, or KITT (voiced by William Daniels), Knight went on missions/assignments given to him by FLAG leader Devon Miles (Edward Mulhare). And over the course of those four seasons, Knight battled all sorts of bad guys, criminals, and scumbags.

While only running 86 episodes, Knight Rider has been a pop culture phenomenon since it began and hasn’t really stopped being popular since it ended its run on NBC. It’s been in syndication for decades now (I remember first watching syndicated episodes on the weekends on WWOR Channel 9 out of New Jersey) and led to multiple TV movies, a one season syndicated spin-off known as Team Knight Rider, and a reboot/sequel series that lasted for one season in 2008. There’s also been all sorts of merchandising over the years, from toys to clothing to video games to God knows what. And, every so often, there are rumors of some sort of series reboot/a big budget movie/a streaming series, etc. Knight Rider, almost four decades later, is still very much a thing.

Over the years, I’ve probably watched episodes from the first season more than from the other three seasons. I’m not entirely sure why that is as I genuinely love the entire run of the show, but it’s what’s happened. I’ve seen episodes from season 1 more than any other season. And, as such, I have my favorites from that season, ones that I tend to watch more than others from the first season’s 22 episodes.

And so, without any further what have you, what are the Top 5 Knight Rider Season 1 episodes?


Honorable Mentions

”Knight of the Phoenix” pilot/episodes 1 and 2: This is the two-part episode that started the show and set up the premise of the series going forward. It’s cool seeing actor Larry Anderson with David Hasselhoff’s voice (because of the whole “Michael Long is a cop who is shot in the face and left for dead but then FLAG recruits Long to become Michael Knight and gives him plastic surgery to make him look like David Hasselhoff, who apparently looked like the son of Wilton Knight, the guy who founded FLAG” thing). The scene where Knight is introduced to KITT is also a hoot and iconic as hell.

”Give Me Liberty… or Give Me Death” episode 15: I’m a fan of episodes of episodic TV from the late 1970’s/1980’s featuring auto racing because it’s always fun to see what the show in question gets right about auto racing and what it gets wrong. These episodes also tend to use all sorts of weird stock footage of real racing. “Give Me Liberty… or Give Me Death” has plenty of both in it, plus a brief appearance by the great Frank Pesce. Kenneth Tigar is in this episode, too, as a scientist who doesn’t want his race featuring cars using alternative fuel sources to be turned into a spectacle. And check out the rib on The Dukes of Hazzard.

5- “Trust Doesn’t Rust”- Episode 9: This is the classic Knight Rider episode featuring two talking cars, which was easily one of the greatest things ever when I was a kid. Basically, Michael Knight and KITT have to track down and stop KARR (Knight Automated Roving Robot, voiced by Optimus Prime hisself, the great Peter Cullen), the first Knight Industries super car that didn’t work out because, basically, it’s a robot sociopath. KARR escapes FLAG and ends up hanging out with two idiot thieves played by Michael McRae and William Sanderson, who try to use KARR to steal things. There’s some cool car combat sequences in this episode, and the way the episode ends is awesome as hell (KARR drives itself off a cliff and explodes, but is KARR dead?). There was a sequel episode in season 3, with the new KARR looking different (KARR has a gray bottom and a neon green voice modulator and flashing hood light). I’d imagine that, if and when we do get a Knight Rider movie franchise, KARR will appear in the sequel. It really is that kind of a story.

4-. Slammin’ Sammy’s Stunt Show Spectacular”- Episode 5: This episode has Michael Knight and KITT joining a stunt show that’s possibly being sabotaged by a wealthy business asshole that wants to develop the land the stunt show operates on. There are some nifty car stunt sequences in this episode, as well as a hilarious old coot performance by Eddie Firestone, who plays Sammy Phillips, the guy that runs and stars in the stunt show but who gets seriously injured during a sabotaged stunt and ends up hiring Michael and KITT to temporarily replace him. It’s also a hoot to see Saugus Speedway, a California short track that shows up in countless TV shows from the late 1970’s and into the 1980’s (I believe the race track still exists but isn’t used for any actual racing anymore). I always thought it would be cool to have a local stunt show where I lived. Lots of race tracks, but no stunt tracks. Why can’t real life be more like TV, you know?

3- “Just My Bill”- Episode 6: This episode has Devon assigning Michael and KITT to protect controversial state politician Senator Maggie Flynn (Carole Cook), who has been the subject of multiple death threats (we see at the very beginning of the episode Maggie almost get crushed by falling materials while touring a construction site). This episode is a perfect example of Knight Rider’s weird quasi-progressive politics, as Maggie is under attack for being for the environment and against big business polluters (Maggie is also a big proponent for world peace, which seems like an odd preoccupation with a state politician, but everyone in the world seems to know who she is). Hasselhoff and Mulhare and Patricia McPherson, who plays KITT tech Bonnie in seasons 1, 3, and 4, are all great and do their usual fine job, but the episode is all Cook as the hard charging woman of the people Maggie. I always thought the show’s writers should have found a way for Maggie to come back in a later season. She clearly had lots of interests/lots of things to advocate for, and FLAG always had different bad guys to investigate. They could have worked together again. Perhaps that would have happened in a fifth season episode, if there had been a fifth season?

2-. “A Plush Ride”- Episode 12: In this episode Michael has to go undercover inside a training camp for professional bodyguards/protectors, as Devon suspects that there are operatives training at the school who have been hired by various international bad guys to attack a summit of Third World leaders that FLAG is hosting. Michael’s job is to figure out who the operatives are and arrest them. There’s a cool twist towards the end of the episode when we find out who the operatives are and the final chase, where Michael and KITT have to stop multiple armored cars from infiltrating the peace summit, is actually thrilling. The bodyguard school owner and operator, Redmond, played by William Lucking, is the ultimate TV show badass. I’m amazed that he didn’t come back in later episodes and he didn’t get his own backdoor pilot. Redmond is that damn cool. This episode also has a terrifically ridiculous explosions at the end. Man, it was so great when both movies and TV shows used real explosions when blowing things up, wasn’t it?

1- “The Topaz Connection”- Episode 16: This is the season 1 Knight Rider episode I’ve seen the most (I’m pretty sure I watched it every single time it aired on the El Rey Network when that channel had Knight Rider reruns) and it’s a good template for what I think a potential Knight Rider movie should be like. In this episode, Michael is tasked with investigating the death of Phillip Royce, the owner of a Playboy type magazine called Escape that also does serious investigative journalism. Before he was murdered, Royce was working on a big story that he codenamed “Topaz,” and both Devon and Royce’s daughter Lauren (Jeanna Michaels) believe that was why Royce was killed. That investigation. Lauren really doesn’t want Michael’s help, though, at least at the beginning, but she eventually accepts his help (check out the scene where Lauren steps out on Michael and flies off to Las Vegas in her private plane, and Michael drives to Vegas using backroads and KITT’s super speed cap[abilities to get to Vegas before her. I love her reaction when she steps off the plane and Michael and KITT are there waiting for her). And why was Royce killed? What was Topaz all about? Big money pharmaceuticals. A good story (I love how Michael figures out the whole thing), some good action, and some terrific character work all make this the best season 1 episode. I mean, Jack Starrett, who plays one of the bad guys Hagen, is a fucking riot. His “you never see a Russian eating a vegetable” speech is so goddamn brilliant.


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Knight Rider, Bryan Kristopowitz