Knight Rider: The Ballad of Stevie and Michael, Chapter 2

The Story So Far:

One year ago, Stephanie “Stevie” Mason, the unwitting former love of Michael Long (a.k.a. Michael Knight in his original, now officially deceased, identity), had been saved by Our Hero from the machinations of a gangster and her corrupt lawyer boss. However, Stevie then had to enter witness protection and disappear, an ironic reflection of Michael’s own new life and identity. Although she, at least, managed to keep her old face.

After Stevie had gone, an emotionally devastated Michael learned that she had guessed his secret, but gave him up so that both of them could pursue their new destinies….

Season 2, Episode 45, “Let It Be Me”

We open with the show’s standard clip teaser (which I again skipped), then move on to a new, more action-oriented opening credit sequence for the show’s second season. Such revamping remains pretty normal. Many shows whip up their initial credit sequence with only a few episodes in the can. So it was pretty typical to craft a new, more elaborate credit montage by the second season, or even earlier.

Here the big difference is that FLAG scientist and maybe / could be Michael romantic interest Bonnie (Patricia McPherson) has been replaced by April (Rebecca Holden). The April experiment didn’t last long, and Bonnie returned for the show’s final two seasons. Moreover, whereas the teaser and credits in the first season ate up about a minute and a half of program time, the current combination runs over two minutes. This no doubt saved a small amount of production change.

We open outside the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.Guitar chords of a sort representing what ’80s network television thought ‘rock music’ sounded like play on the soundtrack. These continue to play as we see a montage of other venues, such as Madison Square Garden and the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Finally, we cut inside one of these places to actually see the band, which indeed looks like some generic one hit wonder ensemble of the sort that may have garnered a modicum of MTV airplay for a week or two. They wrap up their show to massive applause; whereupon we cut to what ’80s network television thought a raucous post-rock concert backstage party looked like. This basically consists of maybe a dozen extras all tightly packed in front of the camera, obviously with the intent of making the affair seem bigger than it really is.

Paul Brock, the band’s manager, enters the room and holds up a badly mocked-up poster magazine, one that indicates the band is called Class Action. “It’s number 12 with a bullet,” he announces to the assembled extras.  “We’re going gold!” He hoists a glass of champagne to propose a toast, but first walks over to the band’s attractive blonde lead singer.

*GASP* Why, it’s none other than Michael Knight’s former love Stevie Mason, albeit now in her new and completely impenetrable identity of Stevie March. Only on an ’80s network TV show would a manufactured identity in the witness protection program involve getting a new name that’s almost exactly the same as your old name, and then becoming a member of an up and coming arena rock band.

Stevie, as considerate and modest as any normal member of a popular ’80s rock band, hushes everybody down. “It’s not like Greg [Noble, the band’s lead male singer and guitarist] to miss champagne,” she observes. Well, not unless he’s busy shoving his face into a giant pile of coke heaped within some groupie’s cleavage.

Ah, but there I go with the crude stereotyping. “Hold the toast and I’ll go get him,” Stevie says. Don’t they have gofers for stuff like that? Otherwise, though, it’s a shockingly candid portrayal of life in a newly popular rock band.

So Stevie, wearing a truly hideous little ’80s dress, heads down the hall to Noble’s dressing room. She knocks on the door, and when she doesn’t receive an answer opens it for a look. She then shrieks in horror, and the camera pans down to reveal Noble’s surprisingly tidy-looking body lying upon the floor. Dammit, this never would have happened if they had just removed the brown M&Ms like he requested!!

Cut to Michael Knight and KITT tooling down a highway.  Michael is weirdly sans his trademark leather jacket, and wearing a ball cap and Elton John sunglasses combo that frankly isn’t doing him any favors. He then receives a video call from his boss Miles Devon, who unsurprisingly assigns him to investigate Noble’s death. “The police are calling it accidental drug overdose,” Devon reports. “His girlfriend calls it…murder.” (Wow!)

Michael, complaining that he’s been on the road for sixteen straight days, tries to beg off. Devon is having none of it, though. Michael is currently approaching the Twin Cities area, which just happens to be where Class Action has their next show. (Wouldn’t they cancel?)

“Mmm, as luck would have it,” Michael quips, doing what I think is meant to be a Jackie Gleason impression. And…he shouldn’t do that. Ever. Anyway, Devon tells Michael to hook up with a “Miss March” (no, you idiot, not the one from the magazine). Assuming a puckish look—because he knows that this is Stevie, while Michael doesn’t—Devon ends the call.

“‘Class Action’?” KITT sniffs. “I’m afraid to ask what kind of music they produce.” Ha, that KITT. He sure is a prissy one. “It’s a pretty hot group, KITT,” Michael answers. “They play good old rock ‘n’ roll,” he continues, with the latter said in a manner which suggests that ‘saying rock ‘n’ roll‘ be added to ‘Jackie Gleason impressions’ on The List of Things Michael Knight Should Never Be Allowed To Do.

Anyway, Michael is conversant with the group, but somehow unaware that his former fiancée is their lead vocalist? I don’t know, that seems like something you’d notice.

And again, that’s some bitching witness protection program.A year ago she’s Stevie Mason, office secretary. One relocation later, and she’s Stevie March, arena rock goddess. Perhaps after this adventure she’ll be given yet another new identity as Stevie Machon, President of the United States.

Michael arrives at the auditorium, and asks a roadie where he may find Miss March. The guy points Michael up to the stage. Michael proceeds over there, and is shocked to see noodling pensively at a piano none other than his old lost love Stevie March! Oh, wait, I already told you about that. Well, Michael is surprised, anyway. Cue Painful Hasselhoff Attempts to Act and Vaseline fuzzed memories of happier times (which just happen to exactly resemble footage from last year’s episode with Stevie).

Cut to the two of them standing outside. Michael says she could have written or phoned, which, actually, she couldn’t have because she’s in witness protection. On the other hand, the rock star thing…never mind. However, in severe danger of Baring his Soul, Michael retreats behind a shield of bluff cheerfulness, at which Stevie rolls her eyes. Men! Ha, not so good with the emotion stuff, that’s us. Am I right, ladies?

Stevie’s story about joining the band as its female lead singer suggests that the writer lazed around for a few weeks and then wrote the script the day before it was due. (Actually, a lot of Knight Rider scripts are like that.) “I drove to LA and got an apartment,” she explains. This is weird because witness protection usually assigns you a new place to live. “A week later, I ran into Greg Noble.We had gone to high school together, even sung a little.” Wow, Stevie sure spends a lot of time bumping into guys she used to know.

In any case, she ended as the band’s female vocalist, opposite Greg himself. Eventually she also ended up involved with Greg, “after the Witness Protection Program ended.” (Huh?) “And he never used drugs!” she avers. Which pretty much makes him unique in the annals of arena rock bands, but there you go. She insists that Greg was murdered, although she has no idea who would do such a thing. I’m guessing Paul Brock, the band’s manager, but that’s only because he’s the only other incidental character we’ve met so far.

Stevie has never lost her feelings for Michael, however. “When I first called the Foundation, I was afraid that you wouldn’t come,” she admits. “And then I was afraid that you would.” (Wow!) Michael replies with an “Oh, for fun!” smirk, followed by a pensive lip chew. This seemed a bit of a weird reaction. But then, this is a guy whose best friend is a car.

Michael, of course, has come to help, but there’s one problem. “What I can’t figure out,” he says, “is how to get on the inside without everyone knowing exactly what I’m doin’.” And here, in a series about a guy surgically given a new face and an indestructible talking car with which to fight crime, we get our most gloriously insane Knight Rider moment ever. Although we don’t learn it for a couple of minutes, Stevie’s suggestion is that Michael takes Greg place as the band’s lead singer.

This is wrong on so many levels that I can barely get my mind around it. Why would the rest of the band accept this guy as a new lead singer? What makes Stevie think Michael would be remotely able to do such a thing? Also, wasn’t Noble a guitarist as well as a lead singer? And finally, how could Michael continue being an anonymous, crime-fighting nomad after a stint as the lead singer of even a moderately famous rock band? Etc.

However, what really strikes me is how these Stevie episodes ended up being milestones in David Hasselhoff’s life. After the first one, Hasselhoff and Stevie portrayer Catherine Hickland began dating, got engaged, and were by the time this episode was telecast, married. Meanwhile, this second episode also acted as a springboard for Hasselhoff’s real life middling successful music career (middling successful, at least, in Europe).

Soon after, Hasselhoff released his first album, “Night Rocker,” which included three duets with Hickland. I still remember holding the vinyl record in my hand back in the day, and regret even now that I didn’t buy it. Unsurprisingly, the album featured three of the (I’m warning you now) four songs the couple perform together in this episode. Let me put it this way: David Hasselhoff is twice as good a singer as he is an actor. That’s right, his singing is that bad.

Anyway, Michael checks in with Devon and explains their plan. “That’s preposterous!” Devon shouts, speaking for each and every sentient being who may have ever seen this episode. However, as Michael explains, “the band will need somebody,” and “Stevie’s already been hyping me.” Well, then, I guess his assumption of the role of lead singer for a popular arena rock band is in the bag. His cover is that he’s been living as “an expatriate” for the last half decade and performing in New Zealand and Australia. Obviously no one would ever check up on that cover story.

April cuts to the chase, though, by asking, “But you can’t sing, can you?” Ah, she’s heard him, then. (It also perhaps explains why she was booted off the show in another episode or two and they brought back Bonnie.) “Are you kiddin’?” Michael retorts. “Before I joined the [police] academy, I used to sing all the time! I even had a record company interested in a demo I made!” Again, I’m willing to swallow the talking car. But this?!

When Devon continues to remain incredulous about this scheme, Michael waves him off by saying, “I’ll worry about that later.” However, he needs to mock up a performance tape of himself supposedly performing in Australia. “You’ve never been to Australia,” Devon retorts, “let alone sung there!” However, April has procured a video camera and “stock footage of the rock concerts.” So, easy as pie! They will film Michael singing “from the neck up,” and then, hilariously, KITT is going to be used to edit the video together.

We cut to a bit of the final product, and oh, my. This is just magic stuff. Seriously, I can barely stand it. The song Michael sings is entirely worthy of his talents. That’s right, it’s that bad. Ah, to think that my quest to review the episode where Michael got married brought me to this as well. Thank you, Jabootu. There are times when you reward your faithful, yes indeed.

This is being watched by Michael, Stevie, and manager Brock (would the manager really have the final say on who becomes the band’s lead singer?!!*), who immediately gets into the loopy, utterly phantasmagorical spirit of things by declaring, “Not bad.” And with that sterling review, Michael is in.

[*Proofreader Carl Fink points out this is technically possible, and I agree. That said, I really doubt any sizable rock band in the ’80s had a manager who could just anoint a lead singer and guitarist without even consulting the rest of the band. Of course, here we never really meet anyone else in the band, so who knows?]

This is followed by a simply hilarious montage of Michael and Stevie practicing for their first show together. And yes, Michael apparently is also assuming the role of lead guitarist, a skill at which he rivals that of his singing. Yes, it’s that bad. By the way, we’re now ten minutes in, and we have still yet to meet even one other member of the band. So obviously I was correct about Brock being the killer (or at least being in on it), because there’s no way the ‘surprise’ bad guy wouldn’t have been introduced by now.

Then we cut to the concert AND…I…JUST…CAN’T…STAND…IT.  Oh, my sweet Jabootu. How is this even humanly possible?! I thought nothing could rival the utterly sublime inanity of the third and final chapter of the Stevie saga, but astoundingly this is right up there. By the way, any doubts we had that Stevie isn’t meant to be a thuddingly obvious analogue for Stevie Nicks are entirely put to rest here, although sadly they didn’t quite have the balls to have her twirl around in slow motion.

The song over, the duo bound from the stage. “That was fantastic!” Brock tells them. And depending on how he meant to use that word, his statement is arguably completely accurate. Groupies or members of the band or some people anyway crowd around the pair with congratulations.

Now making another appearance is the Roadie, Jimmy by name, who according to the Second Appearance for No Apparent Reason Rule™ might actually be the killer, or at least in on Greg’s death. He gives Stevie a bag of Greg’s stuff he purportedly “found stuffed behind a seat on the bus,” and then tells her she “sounded good, really hot.”

In any case, I forgot Jimmy’s earlier appearance (he’s the guy Michael asked how to find Miss March), probably because it lasted about ten seconds and I don’t even remember them showing his face. However, I now am open to the possibility that maybe he and Brock collaborated on Greg’s murder, presumably because they were going to be fired by him.

Even better (by far) is the idea that Jimmy has an Insane Delusional Love Thing for Stevie, and killed Greg because he was Stevie’s boyfriend. I hope it’s the latter, because then Michael will naturally become his next target (bum bum bum!), and because that means this episode of Knight Rider would involve Michael and his advanced super-car battling a homicidal roadie, and that would be totally awesome.

In any case, Greg’s bag will obviously contain some Big Clue. Sure enough, Stevie opens it to find a Mysterious Video Cassette Tape. Bummed out by this reminder of her dead lover, Stevie tells Michael that she wants to be alone. Later Michael is strolling down a hallway when he is accosted by a big, hostile blond dude. “Greg hired me to protect the band and Stevie,” he snarls in a gravely voice. “He didn’t think he needed any protection, and now he’s dead. And here you are, all of the sudden, takin’ his place with his band and his woman.”

Michael says he had nothing to do with Greg’s death.”Yeah, well, somebody did,” Blond Guy responds, thus indicating that he’s a big Plan 9 from Outer Space fan. “And if I find him,” he warns, “you’re lookin’ at their judge, jury and executioner.” So saying, he splits, and Michael breathes a rather wimpy sigh of relief. In any case, I assume this fellow is meant to be another suspect, although if so, they at least could have given him a name.

Cut (I guess) to Stevie and Michael’s hotel. (Separate rooms, of course.) Stevie is watching the video tape from the bag Jimmy the I-Hope-He’s-A-Psychotic-Roadie gave her.*  It’s one of the band’s concert tapes. During one part she blinks and rewinds, then scans forward again frame by frame. Here a single still of some binary code mysteriously appears. Finding this suspicious, she leaves to fetch Michael.

[*I should note for ’80s nostalgia fans that Stevie’s VCR is one of the really early models. It’s a top loader (the tape compartment rose from the machine, you’d put the tape in, and press the compartment back into place) as big as a Buick, and the maybe four function remote comes with a cord that runs back to the unit. My first VCR, which cost like $800 in early ’80s dollars, was the same type.]

Soon the two are striding down the hall back to her room.”The day before [Greg] died,” Stevie explains, “he must’ve looked at that thing a hundred times. He wouldn’t tell me why, but I know that something was wrong.” However, when they reenter her room, it’s obviously been ransacked and the tape is missing. Before Michael can assimilate this, he is punched and a bookcase is knocked over on him. The thief runs out of the room to his car outside, his face unseen.

Michael calls KITT on his wrist communicator as Stevie works to unpin him, and KITT autodrives into position outside the hotel door. Michael soon arrives and gets inside, although only after jumping up and sliding over KITT’s hardtop.

“How far ahead of us is he?” Michael demands, as we see a rather primitive ‘futuristic’ sonar display (or some damn thing) on KITT’s dashboard.” Nearly two blocks,” KITT responds. “STEP ON IT!” Michael yells. Dude, your car can go like 200 miles an hour. I don’t think a two block lead is going to avail your target much.

To make the chase exciting, both cars slew all over the road. You’d think KITT would have better stability than that, especially since clearly neither car is driving at super-speeds.

Eventually the target car drives through an intersection, and partially collides with another vehicle before speeding off. “Michael,” KITT warns, “my sensors indicate that smoking car may explode.” (Really? Given the nature of the damage, that doesn’t seem too likely. And again, what sort of ‘sensors’ would indicate that?)

Michael makes the Good Guy call, pulling over and hauling a woman inside the car to safety. Sure enough, they stagger from the car, and then fly towards the camera in slow-motion when the car explodes in a ridiculously huge fireball. Gee, I’ve never seen that before. Cue commercial break, which this season involves the image shrinking into a shot of KITT driving through the desert.

Back to the hotel. Stevie confirms that nothing is missing except for video tapes. Michael admits that he doesn’t know what the hidden binary numbers might have indicated. “Whatever it is,” he deduces, “it was important enough to steal.Maybe even kill for.” Bum bum bum! Michael figures that the numbers must also be on the master tape, the one Greg’s copy was struck from.

Stevie reports that the tapes are made by Barbara Bellingham, the band’s video director. Dammit, this is starting to look like a typical (for this show, anyway) criminal conspiracy, which means the ‘Psychotic Roadie’ thing probably ain’t happening. Man, that would have been so sweet. Michael asks when he can meet this woman, and Stevie replies that the band is in fact scheduled to start shooting their next video that very evening. Really? And Michael didn’t know that? That seems kind of weird, given that he’s now the band’s lead singer and guitarist.

Anyway, further freaked and increasingly suspicious of her band mates, Stevie asks Michael to drive her back to her apartment in L.A. He complies, and we get a montage of them tooling along various roads and highways.

During this—No!Yes!—we hear a duet on the soundtrack, and it’s Hasselhoff and Hickland singing “White Bird.”  Their version is far more insipid than the original version by It’s a Beautiful Day, which was no great shakes to start with. (And rather more because of Hasselhoff’s vocals than Hickland’s.) Still, to be fair, it’s a nice callback to Stevie’s first episode a year ago.

They arrive at her apartment. Michael enters and starts looking around. Finding a picture of Stevie embracing Greg, he frowns. Then he goes to hang up a coat, and inside the closet is a red jacket with “Greg Norman” embroidered on it. As was the fashion of the time, I’m sure. (Of course, this is about the only item in there, just to make sure it stands out, and it’s actually partly turned towards the camera.)

Michael frowns again. For a second I dared to hope this would continue, and that Michael would keep stumbling upon increasingly more unlikely items bearing Greg’s face or name, but sadly we are denied this. Between that and the apparent lack of psychotic roadies, this whole episode is shaping up to be a massive disappointment.

Stevie reenters the room, and deduces the source of Michael’s angst. This leads to their great ‘damaged love’ sequence, and man, it’s dynamite. The Hoff tries to turn on the juice, and as usual, his acting wiring will not remotely sustain a charge past his normal ‘two AAA batteries’ capacity. Between stuff like this and the numerous singing sequences, this episode is comedy gold, I tells ya.

Hickland gives rather a better shot at the emoting thing, employing her ability to generate tears on command. (She’s also much better at the singing; not great in either case, but entirely adequate, which puts her head and shoulders above her husband.) For his part, Hasselhoff here seems to be attempting to emulate her in the waterworks department. The result is some faint moisture around his eyes which suggests a guy who found the Tabasco sauce to be just a little hot for his liking. You’d think a fellow who had spent seven years on a daily soap opera would be better at this sort of thing, but he isn’t.

“It makes me crazy!” the Hoff husks (sort of; he can’t even do that properly). “But I can’t expect you to never be with another man. Never [goes whispery] fall in love again.” Now it’s Hickland’s turn, and again, she at least acts like a soap opera veteran. “I’m not going to lie to you, Michael,” she says.”He was a wonderful man, and I loved him.But when I went to bed at night, I dreamed of you.” Tactfully, she leaves out, “even when he was bonking my brains out.”

By the way, for all the fervent kissing in these episodes, and even knowing that Hickland was actually Hasselhoff’s wife, I have a problem taking any of it seriously. Obviously the Hoff really had, and I assume continues to have, a romantic life. A fairly busy one, most probably.

However, onscreen—at least to me—Hasselhoff projects such an artificial, plastic quality that he always strikes me as more of an elaborate marionette than an actual guy. I frankly can’t even imagine him really having sex (not, I hasten to add, that’s I’ve spent overmuch time attempting to do so). It’d be like watching Kermit the Frog kiss a human guess star on The Muppet Show, and then trying to picture it going further in your head. Truth to tell, Tom Servo always struck more as more of a real, believable person then Hasselhoff ever has.

But anyway, Hoff does some twitches which suggest he once heard of this ‘method’ thing, and Hickland cries, and they kiss. Awwww. Cut to Michael tooling down a city street that night. (Actually I think it’s a shot I’ve already seen like this…and I’ve only watched one previous episode at this point…maybe darkened a bit to make it look ‘different.’)

He and Stevie…and oh, my, what in the name of Cap’n Crunch is he wearing????…arrive at Bellingham’s studio to shoot the video. Before they enter, they give KITT an assignment; to “scan” the building for the missing video tape. “There could literally be thousands of tapes in there,” KITT grouses. Yes, because that’s the problem with scanning for a small plastic item.

Inside, Brock introduces Michael to video producer Barbara Bellingham. She takes him aside to chat, and mentions his purported career in Australia. As soon as she raises the topic, it becomes depressingly clear that she’s the villain (or one of them; her and Brock, presumably) and is trying to trap Michael out. And so, with vast sorrow, do I give up the dream of Jimmy the Psychotic Roadie. Dammit.

Anyhoo, Bellingham gabbers on about how beautiful Sydney is, and asks Michael if he ever played the Silver Palace there. “As a matter of fact,” Michael replies, “one of my last gigs was at the Silver Palace!” Oh, no, Michael, can’t you see that she’s just trying to trap you?! (Nice use of the word ‘gigs,’ though; just like a real musician would say!) “But that’s in Melbourne,” he corrects her, “not Sydney.”

Whew! What a narrow escape! Good thing Michael has clearly been briefed upon every music venue in Australia. They don’t miss a trick at the Foundation. Meanwhile, I eagerly awaited further such sly cat and mouse games (“Actually, a koala is a marsupial, not a bear”), but was denied.

Cut to KITT outside, still ‘scanning’ for that one particular video tape, a process that involves the use of Pac Man noises. To indicate this, he has a schematic of the building up on one of his displays. I’m not sure why a car would require this visual aid, but it sure is handy for helping the viewer figure out what’s going on! “Bored indeed,” KITT sighs (to himself?!) about his task. Hah, comedy.

Speaking of comedy, we now get to the filming of the video, and this involves Hasselhoff performing and funkin’ around like nobody’s business—and I mean that literally, like nobody’s business—as he scrunches up his face whilst singing to his lady, and plays air guitar, and basically acts like someone who has never actually seen Joe Cocker but is trying it imitate him following an inarticulate friend’s description of same. Words cannot describe this. And luckily they don’t have to. More on that in a bit.

I’ll tell you this, though. I would pay twenty bucks to see these two recreate the Will to Power “Freebird / Baby I Love Your Way” medley video. That would be awesome. In fact, make that fifty bucks. It would totally be worth it.

Needless to say, once all this has been perpetrated, we get one of the all time greatest Informed Attribute moments ever, as Bellingham runs over to enthuse about how totally rad Michael was. Hilariously, Hasselhoff is sweating and huffing and puffing during this (and I’m not exaggerating) like a man who’s just run a 25 mile marathon.

Presumably the idea is that he put so much of himself into performance that he’s now totally spent. However, since the scene consisted of thirty seconds of him singing and jiving in place, his purported near-death exhaustion is comical at best. Especially since his co-singer Hickland is just standing there next to him like a normal person.

Michael, barely alive following his epic performance, is stunned to hear that there’s still more video to shoot (what a moron). “If I produced a video in today’s market with only one location,” Bellingham laughs, “it’d be my last!” Wow, the verisimilitude! Anyway, they’re to meet tomorrow up in the mountains to do some location shooting.  Michael and Stevie leave, and check in with KITT. KITT believes he has located the tape they are looking for, because there’s only one kept in the safe of the main office. (Which, again, KITT learned by ‘scanning’ the building with his ‘sensors.’)

Pleased, Michael drives off.  Stevie and Michael soon enter her apartment.  They have another ‘serious’ romantic discussion, and this time Hasselhoff’s acting (such as it is) is further handicapped by his outfit, which looks like something that would be worn by buy an oversized Lanie Kazan female impersonator. Anyway, this chat is motivated by Stevie’s fears that Michael will get hurt, and goes the predictable “I couldn’t stand to lose you again” route. Actually, now that I think about it, Stevie hasn’t had overmuch luck with men. And now she’s probably fearful that her second ‘dead’ boyfriend will also show up alive and with a new face sometime in the future.

“I have learned to live without you,” she schmaltzes. “I didn’t think I could, but I finally found a way. You see, as long as I knew you were out there, that I could run into you. That I could turn around in a supermarket, and there you’d be. That’s how I do it.” Michael assumes a poignant expression. “That’s how I do it, too,” he replies. And…scene.

Cut to KITT tooling through the city…again. It’s later that night, and Michael is returning to the studios. Apparently KITT has gained a lot of ever more ridiculous powers since the first season, for at Michael’s command he remotely opens the outer door lock, which is purely a mechanical one. I would almost buy him opening an automatic garage door, because that would require hitting a certain electronic frequency. However, this is a regular key lock, with tumblers. KITT’s ability to shift those remotely falls under sheer sorcery, or telekinesis at best.

The representation of this is also highly risible. The lock is seen on one of KITT’s dashboard monitors, goofy sound effects and an animated Spirograph-like squiggle play over the image, and the lock pops open. Ta-da! Michael sneaks in and almost immediately finds the office safe, which has an electronic keypad lock. He sends KITT an image of it (whatever) over their wrist communication thing, and the same unlocking process is repeated. Monitor, cartoon squiggle, open safe.Mechanical locks, electronic locks. What’s the difference?

Michael removes the promised tape, sticks into a nearby VCR (also a top-loader), and plays the tape at fast-forward speed. By holding his wrist thinger up to the TV screen, this allows KITT to copy the tape.

Cut to Bellingham and Brock tooling around in a car. My gosh, it’s like they’re evil doppelgangers of Stevie and Michael!Bellingham hangs up her car phone (the type with a cord) and reports to Brock. “I don’t know who Michael Knight is,” she avers, “but he’s not a singer who just got back from Australia.” Lady, I only had heard him ‘sing’ for about five seconds before I could have told you that.

In this case, however, the proof is that the previously alluded-to Silver Palace turns out to have burned down a year ago, proving that Michael couldn’t have performed there as recently as he said. Why did the scripters write it like that? Because if Bellingham had blown Michael’s cover by simply calling the Silver Palace and asking if a Michael Knight had ever performed there, then Michael would look like a total moron. And then they writers would have to start writing tighter scripts for later episodes, ones that at least kinda/sorta made sense…. Eh, let’s just say the place burned down.

Anyway, for plot purposes (albeit extremely tenuous ones) Bellingham needs Michael and Stevie around long enough to finish the current video, supposedly as a tool to send out their next binary message. After that, though…bum bum bum!Cut to commercial break.

We return to Devon’s mansion, or Foundation Headquarters, or whatever this stately manor is. The show’s template still apparently requires largely pointless scenes where Michael consults in person with Devon and April (or April’s interchangeable analogue, Bonnie, in seasons 1, 3 and 4). Sure enough, we get the typically dynamic scene of the three of them clustered around a computer monitor. That’s some balls to the wall action there, let me tell ya.

Here they’re using the monitor to watch KITT’s download of the pirated video tape. I’m not even sure if that’s possible given personal computer technology back in 1984. Yes, they could (and should) have advanced computers—this is the same organization that built KITT, after all. However, as I noted in the review for the “White Bird” episode, the last time we saw their computer set-up they were printing stuff out on a typically clunky dot-matrix printer.

As we knew, this was the same video stolen from Stevie’s hotel room. They quickly find the frame with the binary code and freeze on it. This is a key scene for April, since her character is a computer genius. Looking at the field of ones and zeros, she quickly offers the fruits of her expertise. “It looks like a binary code,” she suggests. Brilliant!! Moreover, KITT agrees, according to Michael.A binary code it is, then.

This is one of those deals where they attempt to cover up a glaring plot hole by acknowledging it, with less than successful results. If I haven’t made it clear, this is a copy of an actual video that was broadcast on television. Whoever was on the other end then recorded it and used frame advance to find the code. That’s how whatever McGuffin info this is—and on this show it could be anything, from top secret missile plans to secret Swiss bank account numbers—gets disseminated.

Devon asks why, assuming this code is important enough to kill to protect, the villains would risk sending it out in a manner through which it could be so easily intercepted. “Mass communication!” Michael responds. April agrees, suggesting “it’s an ingenious way to transmit a message. “That’s their story, anyway, and they’re sticking to it.

Devon asks how long it will take to decipher the code. “Well, it’s all based on mathematical probabilities,” April answers. Man, she really does know her stuff. Really, though, shouldn’t KITT be able to break this code in like five seconds? Anyway, we leave with April tapping away at her keyboard, with the results expected at any time “from an hour to a week.”

The next day we’re in the mountains. Stevie and Michael are in a typically hideous ’80s vehicle, a yellow convertible of some sort. They’re to lip-synch the song lyrics to one another as they drive, while traveling in front of them is a truck with Bellingham and a camera crew that will film them as they go.

This represents the third iteration of the two performing a dreadful tune entitled “Our First Night Together,” including the ‘concert’ (blue leather suit) and then the studio video shoot (Lanie Kazan drag queen outfit). For your entertainment, some magnanimous soul has clipped the three scenes together and posted the result on YouTube. The studio clip sadly lacks some of Michael’s more egregious capering and air guitaring before the ‘singing’ starts, but it should give you a good idea of what I’m dealing with here.

The scene progresses as expected. However, after a bit of driving Bellingham calls ‘cut.’ Her camera truck duly stops, but *gasp* Michael and Stevie’s car continues, as…three guesses…the brakes have been cut. (What, Michael didn’t notice this until now!?) This is just moronic. When you film a car the way they do here, it’s attached to the truck in front of it and being towed. Otherwise the vehicles would keep drifting closer or farther apart and mess up the shot. Also, you don’t want people who are performing to be actually trying to drive at the same time. Duh.

I think you can pretty much picture this ‘suspense’ sequence in your head. Stevie continuously screams at Michael to stop the car (yeah, like that’s helping), and they keep nearly going over the side of the inevitable twisty mountainside road. The day is saved when Michael alerts KITT to their peril.KITT speeds to their rescue, eventually getting in front (by self Turbo Boosting and rocketing over them) and slowing their car to a stop manually.

The continuity here is pretty bad, by the way. When KITT shoots over their car, they’re clearly on a flat plain somewhere, whereas in the other shots they’re on the aforementioned mountainside road.

Bellingham (wearing sunglasses so risibly huge that former Cubs announcer Harry Caray wouldn’t wear them) and Brock overlook the scene, more than a tad irked at their targets’ miraculous escape. Anyway, they decide to change the manner in which they’ll send their next binary message. Uhm, why?! How does Michael and Stevie being alive change that portion of the plan? That makes no sense whatsoever.

In any case, the new scheme is to plug Class Action into a conveniently just open concert slot in town. Brock notes that it’s a live telecast, and they won’t be able to use their normal video tape thing.Bellingham agrees. “The convention hall has a closed-circuit system,” she explains, “that can feed the action on stage through those big screen monitors. We tap into that system and send the message through them.” Again, how is that remotely an improvement on their old system, and why are they bothering?

Bellingham, back in character but hilariously totally blowing off the whole “yeah, right, you were almost killed” thing, runs over to Michael and Stevie and delivers the big news about the suddenly open concert slot tonight. Although a little surly, Michael and Stevie agree and then leave.

As they tool down the highway in KITT, Michael tells Stevie that he doesn’t want her out of his sight until this whole thing is resolved. She responds that she always does a sound check before a show, though. “If I don’t,” she reasons, “they might get suspicious.” I think she means the people who just tried to murder them. Honey, I think they may be suspicious already.

The idea is that Our Heroes aren’t completely sure that the brake failure wasn’t an accident. Let’s see. Michael has been the target of dozens of assassination attempts by various miscreants, and Stevie has herself nearly been murdered in the past, too, and by a man she implicitedly trusted. And, oh, yeah, her boyfriend just got kacked under mysterious circumstances. Frankly, you’d think both of them would tend to land on the paranoid side by this point.

The obvious answer is that Michael will just stick with Stevie through the rest of the day. Sadly, though, script contrivance Fate denies them this option.”Devon and April are awaiting the pleasure of your company in the mobile unit,” KITT interjects. “While you were lip-syncing rock ‘n roll,” KITT sniffs, “I broke the binary code.”

So…if KITT broke the code, why does he have to go to the mobile unit? To brainstorm, I guess. (Brain-drizzle, more like it.) Seriously, though, how come they never teleconference over KITT’s monitors?And, of course, Stevie’s patently slim reed motivation for having to do a sound check remains in play. Gee, what will happen next?

So they split up, Stevie going to the convention hall, and Michael and KITT to the mobile unit.* This, for those not in the know, is an 18 wheeler with a covert garage / computer lab in the trailer section. Michael and KITT enter this by driving up an automatic ramp, which also allows for them to seemingly disappear off the road when circumstances dictate such action.

[*Carl Fink asks, “The mobile unit is a truck. Why don’t they drive it to the concert hall, so Michael can be there and still talk to them?” Good point! (Answer: Because then they’ve have to shoot new footage of the truck.)]

The code breaks down into a bunch of abbreviated lines of information, such as “AR SB F19 815P 1K”. This devilishly clever cipher takes several tens of seconds for them to break. AR is “arrival,” the second part is a location—in this case, San Bernardino—the next a date (F19 = Friday the 19th), then the time (8:15 PM) and then the K leads to suspect this is a nationwide drug ring—wow, that’s disappointing prosaic—with the ‘K’ section representing how many kilos are being moved in each city. Take that, Da Vinci Code!

In any case, April figured all this out in a positively Holmesian burst of deductive reasoning. But only, she admits, because “one summer I worked at a travel agency.” Yes, because otherwise no human could possibly figure out that arcane date and time stuff, or that AR might mean “arrival.”

What makes the plan work so well (*ahem*) Devon notes is its immediacy. The video was played on the 19th, the very day the drugs were to be delivered. Man, that doesn’t work in so many ways its not even worth going into. Moreover, it makes the plan to push the next set of info through the new video even dumber. They just finished shooting it an hour or two ago, so how could they have ever planned to get it telecast the very same day? Because their new plan is to use the concert tonight instead.

By the way, if you track the dates, and take into account the fact that Greg was killed after this first video was telecast,* and after a period in which he watched a recording of the video “hundreds of times,” and then Michael came on the scene, and won the job as the band’s new lead singer, and performed in a concert, and shot a video, then all that happened within five days. Because the new info from that night’s telecast, when it finally happens, bears the date of the 24th. I mean, seriously, how did these writers live with themselves when they cashed their paycheck?

[*One could argue that Greg had a copy of the master tape duped before the video was broadcast, but said tapes would necessarily come from Bellingham’s studio. So why wouldn’t she have clipped out the single frame with the code before distributing copies?]

The fact that the info almost immediately went out of date also means that the villains would have absolutely no reason whatsoever to stick the stolen video in their safe rather than destroying it. Why bother? They have no conceivable reason to keep it, and in fact several good reasons to get rid of it. Of course, if they had done that, then Michael and KITT never would have gotten their hands (well, KITT doesn’t have hands, but you know what I mean) on it, and never would have broken the case.

Anyhoo, Brock and Bellingham show up at the concert hall. Stevie is then seen walking through the hall when she pauses in front of a door because Bellingham and Brock are inside the room, yelling at each other and screaming incriminating dialogue. Yeesh, talk about lazy writing!

Anyway, they suddenly open the door for no reason and catch Stevie listening. They chase her through the hall and catch her, and (rather conveniently) because they seem to be the only ones in the place, nobody hears any of this. They drag her back in the office and Bellingham sticks a gun in her face.

She gives Stevie her marching orders. “The concert will go on as planned tonight,” she explains. “You and Michael will sing. [Actually, I can see one big flaw in this plan already.] You will smile. And you will make him think this conversation never took place.” Because, you see, they’ll have a gunman somewhere in the audience, and if anything out of sorts happens he will instantly shoot down both her and Michael. Yes, that scheme sounds absolutely foolproof.

Cue commercial break. Cut to stock crowd footage as concert time approaches. Michael arrives, and in doing so muses to KITT that Stevie sounded a little strange on the phone. He then enters the hall and talks to Jimmy the Now Merely Uninteresting Roadie. Jimmy excitedly tells Michael that his and Stevie’s image will play magnified on a big screen behind them on stage.

“Barbara set it up,” Jimmy enthuses, an odd bit of info to impart other than to raise Michael’s suspicions, which it immediately does. Why would it, though? If the concert hall offers such a thing, surely it’s something that’s normally used during concerts and stuff. Still, Michael immediately smells a rat and runs off.

Cut backstage. Brock and Bellingham walk Stevie out on stage, reminding her of what will happen if Michael seems to catch on to what’s up. Meanwhile, Michael is in KITT and teleconferencing—finally!!!—with Devon, informing him of the plan to project the concert onto the big screen. They’ve figured out that this is the mechanism that will be used to disseminate the drug shipment info. Now that they’ve broken the *cough* code, KITT can immediately decipher the info once it appears and send it to Devon, who can coordinate with the appropriate police departments to be ready to intercept the drugs.

With the concert due to start in five minutes, and Michael not even dressed yet—he’s like a real rock star already!—Michael trots back into the hall and leaves things in KITT’s capable, er, wheels. He is joined by Stevie just as they are cued to go on stage, and as they do so she quietly explains the situation at hand.

In front of a crowd of what must be several fours and fives of people (strategically, if inadequately, camouflaged with poor lighting), Michael takes the stage and starts totally rockin’ the joint. I mean, that’s the idea, anyway. Seriously, if I have to watch him perform anymore I’ve going to split a seam. Anyway, then Stevie joins him on stage and they go into another awful duet. Meanwhile, we spot that an usher in the aisle is the gunman. Hilariously, Stevie spots him too, from the stage while she performs with all the spotlights in her face.

There’s another song, and folks, they ain’t gettin’ any better. Imagine Hasselhoff fruggin’ away and squinching his face to these lyrics: “Here comes another sunrise, burning in my eyes! She’s kept me up all night again! When the girl gets hot, well, she just can’t stop! Taking me places I’ve never been!

Apparently that includes one little destination called Adequatesingingville. Meanwhile, the ‘crowd’ goes nuts. Not the way they should be going nuts, I mean. More like they actually like the show.

Meanwhile, KITT intercepts the new binary code, breaks it, and sends it on to Devon and April. I know Devon is supposed to be coordinating with the authorities, but how is that possible if these shipments are going out almost immediately? Doesn’t it take time to get taskforces of police officers out to various airports around the country? Anyway, even funnier is that they didn’t bother to get the dates right. We were earlier told that “F19” stood for Friday the 19th, but this code features both a F24 and an F25. That’s a lot of Fridays, and none of them seven days apart. Here’s an idea, brainiacs: Why didn’t they say ‘F’ stood for February? Yeesh.

KITT informs Michael that they’ve got the code (yes, because he’s be able to hear KITT’s soft voice over the music and the ‘crowd’), and Michael requests a blackout. KITT uses his “MICRO-JAM” function to knock out all the lights in the convention center—sigh—thus stymieing the gunman. Naturally, this involves KITT calling up an image of the hall’s fuse box (!) on his monitor, and then the animated squiggles, and Bob’s your uncle.

“Paul and Barbara are leaving,” KITT reports, and again Michael hears him over the pandemonium. “Don’t let them get away!” Michael orders. Good thing he’s there to come up with ideas like that. KITT autodrives over to block Paul’s car from leaving the lot, and is aided in this endeavor by a convenient bottleneck. Brock gets out, but is mystified to see no driver in the car. Then Michael appears—that was fast—and tackles him.

Bellingham tries to run off on foot, but is pinned against a fence by KITT. For no other reason that sheer plot contrivance, she had paused to grab a copy of the video with the binary code on it. When Michael relieves her of it, she shouts, “That’s mine.” KITT has recorded this, and thus Instant Evidence obtained. She’d have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for those kids and their meddling car.

Stevie makes her way outside, and KITT warns that the gunman is right behind her. He aims at Michael, Stevie wallops him with…I don’t know, it looks like a baseball bat carved from a block of Styrofoam…something, to now apparent effect other than to draw his attention to her.

Then, suddenly, Blond Guy Who Had Accosted Michael for 30 Seconds Half an Hour Ago appears and punches the gunman out. Michael shakes his hand, and they smile, and we cut away and we never see that guy again, or even learn his name. What the hell was that about?

As with “White Bird,” they leave time for another little romantic coda before Michael and Stevie tearfully leave each other yet again. This involves him taking her back to the now empty conference hall. On stage two mikes are set up, and music starts to play and disco lights start to flash. All this courtesy of KITT, of course. Is that anything that car can’t do?

“There are a thousand songs that make me think of you,” Michael says.”But if I can’t pick a thousand, see if you remember this one.” Needless to say, I was hoping the song would be “Convoy,” but sadly it wasn’t. Instead, a smiling Stevie takes one mike and Michael the other and then they gaze at each other lovingly and take an axe to the venerable standard “Let It Be Me.” (Hey, it’s the episode’s title!) Want a taste?Here you go. By they time they wrap up and silently mouth “I love you” to each other, well, as they say, there wasn’t a dry seat in the house.

Cut to final commercial, and…oh, wait, another coda! Michael, back in his normal outfit, arrives at Stevie’s apartment just as movers are removing her possessions. Stevie steps outside and Michael joins her. “We’re going on the road for three months,” she explains, referring to the movers. “It didn’t make sense to keep [the apartment.]” Uhm, why not?

Anyway, we get another tearful farewell. Her getting all teary-eyed, and he, unable to master that skill, trying very hard to look sad. Here they set up the next chapter of their story, although we wouldn’t see that for two more seasons:

Michael:”Stevie, I could leave the Foundation.”
Stevie:”No.No.That’s too high a price to pay.For now.Maybe some day it won’t be.”
Michael:”We are going to see each other again.”
Stevie:”I know.[They kiss.]I’ll see you in the supermarket.”[Get it?]

And so they part. In another fairly nice reference to “White Bird,” Stevie waves at him through the window of a leaving car, and yes, the song “White Bird” plays on the soundtrack, and Michael grimaces mightily with sadness. And fade out. Stevie and Michael would meet again.

But that, Gentle Reader, is a tale for another time….

Thanks as always to Jabootu proofreader Mr. Carl Fink, the KITT to my Micha…OK, that analogy doesn’t work at all.

  • sardu

    I haven’t read this yet. The picture frightens me.

  • Chris M

    Oh my holy crap I WILL find that album.

  • Ericb

    Why didn’t the drug traffickers just use the phone?

  • Greenhornet

    I had watched the show a few times because I kept forgetting how bad it was, even by the standards of the day. Here’s my observations for this episode:

    I agree with Ericb, but why didn’t the SMUGGLERS send the message to tell the pick-up where they were going to deliver? Or was it a “the coast is clear AT THIS LOCATION” sort of thing?
    “The Foundation” (Or whatever it’s called) seems to employ only SIX people! No wonder every episode I’ve seen has Hoff complaining about how long he’s been on the road!
    This is the SECOND episode we see Stevie flash Michael the “LOSER” sign! Michael, she’s not “going on the road”, she trying to GET AWAY FROM YOU!

    That’s all for now, bye-bye and buy bonds.

  • Why didn’t the drug traffickers just use the phone?

    Man, you just don’t get this show at all.

  • Food

    Ken, you don’t know how awesome you are.

    Tonight was a thoroughly miserable Saturday for me. All alone, nothing to do, and no one to do it with. So I’m junkying online, trying and failing not to feel commensurately lousy. I come here, and see [b]KNIGHT RIDER[/b] dissections!!! I feel that rush of ’80s nostalgia, make myself comfortable (I online-junky in a recliner), read what you’ve got to say about K.R., giggle like crazy at the dissection, the memories, and the whole Hasselhoff phenomenon, and I feel great again!

    Jabootu is the next best thing to actually watching this stuff with an in-person somebody.

    You’re great, Ken! Cheers!!!

  • Zandor Vorkov

    and because that means this episode of Knight Rider would involve Michael and his advanced super-car battling a homicidal roadie, and that would be totally awesome


    Yes, that would be so totally awesome I’m afraid to read past this point because it probably won’t come true.

  • Zandor Vorkov

    My mother still has an original vinyl copy of the Night Rocker album. I wonder what I could get for it on ebay?

  • Stuart Guest

    “Yes, they could (and should) have advanced computers—this is the same organization that built KITT, after all.”

    Hah! I wouldn’t put too much faith in their computers and security — if you really want a great example, try the episode “Soul Survivor”, where some teenage kid manages to hack KITT with nothing but an old computer and an Atari 2600 joystick — nevermind the fact that this is all done in a completely wireless fashion!

  • Stuart Guest

    “Cut to KITT outside, still ‘scanning’ for that one particular video tape, a process that involves the use Pac Man noises.”

    Forgot to mention that in the episode I referred to above, Michael just happens to be using KITT to play Pac Man!

  • “Michael is weirdly sans his trademark leather jacket, and wearing a ball cap and Elton John sunglasses combo that frankly isn’t doing him any favors.”

    You can’t put a quote like that and then fail to include a screen capture. That is just cruel.

  • Reading your VCR description brought back many fond memories. I still have my ’84 (I think) JVC, top loader, with the remote on a cord, and the big, colorful Piet-Mondrian-Meets-Playskool buttons. It even works. (I kept it because it is old enough to ignore write-protection, so it allowed me to make backup copies and avoid having to buy replacement copies during the late 80’s and 90’s obsession with VHS write protection schemes. — Do they still bother write protecting tapes? Haven’t bought one in ages.)

  • John Nowak

    It might be relevant to point out that one of the episodes of Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds also used encoded information embedded into broadcasts of rock music. Embedding coded information into a larger, inoccuous message is called “steganography” and it’s apparently a common technique.

    And actually, it makes sense to broadcast information this way at times: in this case, if the people generating the message are caught, they can’t betray the people getting the message, since they don’t have any phone number or email address for the police to investigate.

    Still, I doubt the authors of this particular episode thought it through in any detail.