First let me apologize for my absence. I've been fiddling with more personal, non-writing specific posts. That was fine and all, but there was one topic I've been trying to tackle for awhile that is difficult because it involves another company owned by the company that owns mine. In other words, there's a lot I'm not allowed to say, even if it was in support of the company. At least, a lot I'm not allowed to say without getting permission, and I don't want to go through that hassle. Job is over there. Joe the writer is over here. And I want to keep those two separate. I've been burned too many times in the past for not doing so.
And then there was the biggun. I was one of the three million people that lost power. Now I've lost power before, but I've always been fortunate in that it comes on a few hours later. I think the longest I've ever gone without power (as a result of a calamity and not the electric company turning it off or not having a home to power) was five hours. Not this time! Three and a half days. And that's still not as bad as some! But you learn a lot about how your house is heated when there is none. We eventually had to flee to a motel as the heat fell below 40 degrees in our house. We were lucky that we got a room in town, one of two that required we wait in the motel lobby for an hour waiting for reservations to be cancelled.
So then power came back and I had a lot of work to catch up on. Still, I had an idea today I'd like to share. While it's still not the post I've been brainstorming on for awhile, I think a lot of you might find it recognizable.
Those of you 30 or older, at least. The youngins might only remember the reboot from a couple years ago. And if you remember it, I apologize. It was quite awful. I would rate it worse than the reboot of Bionic Woman, which was sadly awful as well. What am I talking about? Knight Rider.
It's the show that made David Hasselhoff famous before Baywatch. It aired at a time when Saturday morning still showed cartoons (not Power Rangers or VR Troopers or any of that offal, I'm talking about real cartoons). Saturday afternoons were the pantheon of young boy television. A-Team, Incredible Hulk, Airwolf, Knight Rider, Battlestar Galactica (original). Dear lord, I weep just thinking about its greatness (I also weep when I watch the pilot of Airwolf and discover just how bad that show was).
I'm also old enough that I got the tail end of the greats from the previous decade. That means the Six Million Dollar Man and the original Bionic Woman. Plus all their made-for-TV movies! SO. GOOD!
I was excited to see the reboot of Bionic Woman and sad to see they missed the mark so badly. I gave Knight Rider a chance. I had given Knight Rider 2000 a chance, so why not this? I had less confidence that they could do it right because it's such a niche story that the original series covered a lot of bases. And as expected, it was a crapper. Even with Val Kilmer as KITT. Like so much TV, they tried to be what the other show wasn't, even though the other show worked for its time. Now you had a car that could do everything
, a hot shot idiot driver, and an ex-flame with an axe to grind as the scientists daughter.
These things are expected. There are so many political decisions that go into TV casting now, that you can't have an all-guy cast except for the chicks in bikinis like you could in the '80s. That's a good thing. But it's approached with specific biases (e.g. your lead still needs to be a white male) that it makes casting pretty predictable.
Today, for some reason I cannot imagine, pieces for the show fell into place. The reboot had a few right ideas in that it needed a younger cast. Not the middle-aged guy talking to the old guy except when he was talking to his car. It needs some women who are competent. And it needs a talking car. It doesn't need an "on the run from the law" when in the first episode you introduce a car that can do everything. There is no cop in the country that's going to catch your car, so why are we watching?
So here's what we do. Make the lead Idris Elba or Taye Diggs. Let's break that "all leads must be white" mold right now. We know it's not true and these two are recognizable enough that it won't be a big stretch for the less liberal of America to sign onto the concept.
Knight Industries returns as a military research and design company, run by an old white guy. We'll name him Michael Knight. It never made sense that Knight Industries was run by Devon Miles and Michael Knight was just an employee. Let's fix that with a little throw-back to the old series. It's a pity Edward Mulhare couldn't fill that role because that would have been awesome. RIP, sir. This new character is the CEO and head of research, the guy that started it all. And while the company has grown well beyond that scope (we'll see later), Dr. Knight is all about military research that saves lives.
Specifically, he's working on an adaptive AI program to be installed in military Humveess to reduce the amount of casualties by IEDs and other impediments. They are in the final testing phase before the computer system goes operational. His team?
Captain Taye Diggs Idris Elba, United States Army, detached to Knight Industries to serve as military liaison, field expert, and the best damn driver in the military.
White chick engineer. Former military. She doesn't mind getting greasy and she's great with machines. Mix Zoe with Kaylee from Firefly and you're looking good here.
Indian nerd. Let's get rid of the typical gangly guy with the thick nerds or the FOB import. Have an Indian guy great in electronics without the accent that doesn't look like he was beat up all his life. He just likes to get his nerd on. (The first time you see KITT's red light going back and forth, I'd love to see the computer say "By your command." It makes me squee with glee.)
Chinese AI expert. He's your mole. Oh, that's right. We're throwing some Scarecrow and Mrs. King in to this thing. We're well ahead of China on adaptive AI, and they send in a ringer to take what we have and eliminate the team. Make it look like an accident. The Humvee explodes, but Taye Elba saves the primaries of the team (except for Michael Knight and the red shirt engineers who don't get names).
This is all part of a grander espionage that the team must foil because there's not time for anyone else to do so! But in so doing, they alert the Chinese spy they're still alive and still have the technology. They install the AI into Captain Taye Elba's own sports car and use it to save the day. Most of its systems are off-line because it was built to be in a custom-made Humvee. It can't go invisible or any of that stupid shit.
Now Michael Knight's daughter shows up. She runs Knight Industries clandestine unit, farming out equipment and computer resources to the CIA and such. The entire team has been declared dead and there's an espionage war that America can't openly fight. Do they want to wave the red, white, and blue while using awesome gadgets and kicking some ass? Why yes they do.
Oh but wait, their families have been told they're dead. Captain Taye Elba was privy to some super heavy top secret shit. If ever he disappeared or was killed, his family would be relocated with new identities. He has a wife! He has a son and a daughter! And now they're gone. He never got to tell them he was okay. He must find them. But Young Knight chick won't let him. It's for their own safety. And KITT is still an infant AI and follows its own protocols, doing what it must to keep Taye Elba away from his family. Oh the angst! Who can he trust? Who are his friends? And what other dangers are there out there aside from the Chinese! A resurgent Russia, a corrupt military industrial complex, and a boss who never seems on the level.
Dun. Dun. DUUUUUNNNNNNN!!!!
Okay, Hollywood. Get on that. That's a show I would watch as long as you don't make it suck.
(How not to make it suck. Have them working to get KITT operational through the climax, but they can't get it working in time and the humans carry the load on their own. At the end of the pilot, THEN have KITT finally go online. Having a car that can do anything basically means you're filming 41 minutes of car chases which is Nascar without the beer.)