Chasing Knight Rider – Season 1, Episode 14: Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death

Quick Hitch:

Michael Knight must investigate an alternative fuel race which has been the target of accidents and criminal activities, including murder. Continue reading

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Chasing Knight Rider – Season 1, Episode 15: The Topaz Connection

Quick Hitch:

Michael investigates the murder of media mogul who is found dead with one of his models.  What he finds is something much bigger, and the only clue he has is the word Topaz. Continue reading

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Chasing Knight Rider: The Preamble

While Battlestar Galactica was one of the series that Larson was known for in the late 1970s, it would be the 1980s where Larson’s stock was at his highest.  As it is, he was commissioned to put pen to paper and release two more science fiction/fantasy shows for NBC:  Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and Knight Rider.

The Story of Knight Rider:

Police Officer Michael Long was hot on the trail of Industrial Spies when he gets shot in the line of duty and is left for dead.  He would be rescued by Wilton Knight, a wealthy philanthropist who rebuilds him and his car.  Rechristened as Michael Knight, he would use this newfound lease on life to fight crime and criminals in ways that he was unable to before he was killed.

The Crew:

First, there’s Michael Knight.  Believe it or not, his story isn’t unlike most Action Superheroes.  Most of them are riffs off of the Jesus Christ (Near)Death and Rebirth story.  As it is, however, unlike similar origins in The Six Million Dollar Man, Michael receives no superpowers himself.  Instead, he gets a super-powered car.

That car is known as the Knight Industries Two Thousand.  This car was Pontiac’s Trans-Am advertisement that ran for 4 years and many more in syndication.

Heading the team is Devon Miles.  A prim-and-proper British gentleman, he prefers the finer things in life.  Because of this, he and Michael clash over methodology, style of dress, and even the food that they eat – because Michael prefers 20th Century American fast food, and Devon does not.

Rounding out this team is Bonnie Barstowe.  She is KITT’s primary technician and one of the scientists for the Knight Foundation.  In stereotypical Action Show fashion, Bonnie’s “Intelligence is Only Matched by Her Beauty.”  In reality, Bonnie’s character is supposed to be the sex symbol of the show.  She does, however, do some rather amazing things when you think about them – even if she only gets them as lines for the show, most of the time.

Since this is an Action Show of the 1980s, expect the usual sexism and racial issues that plagued the genre during the time period.  However, given how Larson and company handled such issues in Battlestar Galactica, I would expect them to be not as bad, nor not as blatant as some of the other showrunners at the time.

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Riding the Airwolf – The Preamble

 

The Copy:

Airwolf was born out of the rising dustup of shows featuring “Futuristic” vehicles.  The most famous of the Future Vehicles would be the Knight Industries Two-Thousand from Knight Rider.  Lesser known, however, was the vehicle which was the inspiration for this show – the Blue Thunder.  Blue Thunder was an armed Police attack helicopter with military capabilities.  When Frank Murphy learns of the nefarious plans for the helicopter, he steals it and exposes the corruption.  At the end, he has Blue Thunder destroyed.

Out of the ashes of that movie, however, came 2 shows.  The first was the series that ABC commissioned before the movie was completed.  The second, however, was this show:  Airwolf.

The Plot:

Stringfellow Hawke is called in for a special assignment with an American Intelligence Agency (called “The Firm”) when Dr. Moffatt, creator of a Super-Copter named Airwolf, betrays said Agency and flies the copter to Libya to sell it to Colonel Qaddafi.  Stringfellow Hawke, with the help of Dominic Santini, retrieve the helicopter, but the subsequent battle makes all parties believe that Airwolf was destroyed in the process.  Stingfellow makes a deal with the head of the Firm:  He’ll fly missions for them with Airwolf – on his terms.  In exchange, the Firm will use all of its available resources to find Stringfellow’s brother, St. John Hawke, a fellow soldier who served in Vietnam and is officially listed as Missing in Action.

The Basic Crew:

One of the most favored kinds of lead characters in the 1980s was that of the Tortured Hero – A man whose past is tattered with dark secrets, usually a missing family member or anguish over an innocent person being killed during a police action or botched military operation.  Batman’s origin story is famous for this, as is Superman.

The tortured hero will invariably have a happy-go-lucky sidekick who will take in life’s simpler pleasures.  Again, one of the most well-known HGL sidekicks is Robin (again from Batman).

Here, Airwolf borrows again from Blue Thunder – Stringfellow Hawke is haunted by his missing brother St. John Hawke.  Blue Thunder (movie) had main character Frank Murphy continually haunted by his memories as a US Army pilot in Vietnam.  He participated in an operation when Colonel F.E. Cochrane killed a Vietnamese soldier by throwing him out of helicopter out of spite.

Stringfellow’s sidekick is Dominic Santini, owner of Santini Air and friend of the Hawke family.  Unlike Stringfellow, Dominic is generally happy to point of jovial, and generally does not take life too seriously.  In a twist, Dominic is actually older than Stringfellow, which makes his partnership work.  His character shares similarities with Richard Lymangood from the Blue Thunder movie.

Their boss is Michael Coldstone Briggs 3rd.  His codename is Archangel.  He is the Assistant Director of The Firm, an American Intelligence Agency which operates on a level higher than the CIA – and whose capabilities are closer to that of the NSA.

Stacking the Review Deck:

Much like Blue Thunder, Airwolf also has their own idiosyncrasies to deal with.  For starters, this show hates Qaddafi and Libya.  It also uses the “Red Scare” as an attempt to ramp up the drama and conflict in this series.  The show also leverages Stringfellow’s fanatical determination to find his brother – to the character’s (and series’) detriment.

The reviews for this show will try to look deeper into those patterns.

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Striking Blue Thunder – The Preamble

Coming off of the heels of the Blue Thunder movie, ABC commissioned a spinoff TV series which was to begin soon after the Blue Thunder movie hit the theatre circuits.

The Plot:

In the aftermath of the events of the Blue Thunder (movie), the US Department of Justice establishes APEX, a Federal Police agency tasked with going after the hardest of criminals.  To that end, a second Blue Thunder was built and re-assigned to the LAPD.

The Crew:

Blue Thunder’s pilot is an officer by the name of Frank Cheney.  Unlike Frank Murphy (from the movie), Cheney could be aptly described as “Dirty Harry” with Blue Thunder as his .44 magnum.

Assisting Cheney in Blue Thunder is Clinton Wonderlove, a young computer expert who is quick to crack a joke.

Blue Thunder would be augmented with a ground support team, called Rolling Thunder.  Running Rolling Thunder are these 2 men:

Steve Butkowski and Bubba Kelsey, 2 ex-NFL linemen.  These two were added to provide the “muscle” when it comes time to apprehend their suspects – and everyone who was apprehended were, in fact, GUILTY…of something.

This TV show was, in fact, one of TWO spin-offs from the Blue Thunder movie.  The second was a CBS series created by Donald Bellasario, called Airwolf.  Both shows would go into different directions, but both would affect the 1980s TV landscape in similar ways.

The politics of Blue Thunder: The Series, is what makes reviewing it most interesting.  Whereas most series lean libertarian when it comes to local authority and dealing with immoral acts against other persons, Blue Thunder leans more corporatist than most.  Where most action shows approve of the use of unions for the little guy against larger corporate entities, Blue Thunder espouses none such leanings.

The reviews for Blue Thunder will look to tackle its many messages.

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Hiring The A-Team: Season 1, Episode 14 – A Nice Place to Visit

Mission Unbearable:

The A-Team finds trouble when it attempts to attend the funeral of a friend and fellow Vietnam Vet. Continue reading

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Hiring The A-Team: Season 1, Episode 5 – A Small and Deadly War

Mission Unbearable:

The A-Team is hired by a retiring LAPD Detective to stop a team of corrupt cops…who happen to be a highly trained SWAT team. Continue reading

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