from the vault: meet me around back in five, buddy

All of my writing energy and creative motivation continues to pour into finishing Memories of the Future, and Mystery Project X, so I'm reaching into the vault for something fun today. This is many years old, so the style makes me cringe a lot, but the content makes me smile a lot more, so lower your expectations and enjoy a trip down memory lane…

meet me around back in five, buddy

Am I the only person who was crestfallen upon finding out that the voice of KITT was not, in fact, the voice of the car, but was, in truth, the voice of actor William Daniels?

(Fun fact: When I was on the board at SAG, Bill was president, and I frequently told Anne that I was "going into a meeting with KITT." She often replied, "in his office? Or did you talk into your watch and tell him to meet you around back in five?")

Back in the day, at Universal Studios, they had a KITT car on display for all the tourists to check out. You could sit in KITT, have your picture taken, and (this was the best part) ask KITT a question that would be answered by none other than KITT HIMSELF!

Most of the people would ask questions about the show, like "what did you do in episode [whatever]?", and all sorts of technical questions about the specifics of his design, like they wanted to stump KITT, or something. BAH! AS IF YOU COULD STUMP KITT. Stupid tourists.

Anyway, I once waited in line for a very long time to talk to KITT. I so badly wanted to get into the car, and say, "Hey, KITT, I was wondering, do you ever cut loose when the people go home? I mean, tell me the truth. You can kick the shit out of the A-Team Van, right? Do you ever just head on over to the backlot and do donuts, just because you can? You know, just to show off?"

It would have been awesome, and my fellow KITT pilgrims who were lucky enough to be around to hear it would have talked about it for decades as it slowly became legend … but I totally chickened out. When I sat in KITT's driver's seat, I panicked and lamely asked, "What's your top speed, KITT?"

The sad thing is, I can't even remember what the answer was.

I got it into my head a few months ago that I should watch some episodes of Knight Rider and CHiPs and A-Team. I guess part of me wanted to see if they held up, but a bigger part of me just wanted to remember what it was like to be ten years old and watching those shows on a giant 26 inch television set from the floor of our den in Sunland.

In their own way, I think they do hold up, but even if they hadn't, I think it would have been time well spent.

51 thoughts on “from the vault: meet me around back in five, buddy”

  1. KITT would spend the nights kicking arse and drinking whiskey with General Lee. The A-Team van used hang around in bars and brag about how they’d sometimes talk to him.
    True fact.

  2. KITT gives me the warm and fuzzies *swoon*
    As bad as some may view Knight Rider I LOVE IT. Was so happy when it came back to t.v. It is one of my favourite Geeky Pleasures and thus the Knight Rider theme(in various incarnations)tends to get a lot of air play because it makes me super happy and giddy and warm and gushy and *swoon*
    Optimus Prime has the same effect on me. Here is a fact that I am not ashamed to admit. You know how people have those lists of 3 or 5 people that if they were to meet, they would be allowed to sleep with and it wouldn’t be considered cheating? Optimus Prime is on my list. I have no real people on my list. Data is another (not Brent but Data) but only because I want to see just how fully functional he actually is.

  3. I hear BIO’s shelved its KITT episode. Too bad, because it would have been nice to hear about how he overcame his NOS “problem,” and how he felt about losing his spot on Surreal Life to MC Hammer.

  4. Ha! I haven’t thought about KITT at Universal in ages! I think I may have met a Transformer there as well? Can’t remember what I talked to KITT about, but I’m pretty sure it was boring and lame.
    I wonder if KITT ever gave an inappropriate response? If the last decade or so is any indication, then I’m betting yes. I can remember Beetlejuice saying some interesting things. Donkey from Shrek is insanely inappropriate, in the best of ways of course. (He’s a sort of puppet that sits in a wagon that’s made to look like it serves food like waffles and other items I can’t remember.) Time before last, my friends and I were taking a picture with him and somehow we went from talking about Juan Valdez’s donkey to Donkey making a joke about Columbia and cocaine. The last time we were there a friend asked if Donkey served any punch. He replied that he used to serve it, but the ladies didn’t like it so he stopped doing it. Heh, Donkey Punch.

  5. I tried watching Macgyver from the beginning or the series once.
    It didn’t keep my attention in this ADD-tailored age and I don’t think I even finished the first season.
    I would also love to watch Quantum Leap from front to back, but I don’t think I would be able to do that either.

  6. I have the first 2 season’s of Knight Rider on DVD. They are still fun to watch, but they don’t have that childhood magic, probably because I am not as naive as I was back then. They are available on Hulu if you ever decide to watch them.

  7. I was less crestfallen than impressed with myself for recognizing William Daniels as the voice of KITT when I saw him in St. Elsewhere… but then I was a bit older at the time (14 when KR debuted).
    brainwise: there was a super-motorcycle show: Streethawk. Unfortunately the rider wasn’t as cool as Ponch and Jon, plus the bike didn’t talk. After the success of Knight Rider, there was a spate of super-vehicle shows – see also: Airwolf. I think there was even a train one. Seems kinda limiting.

  8. Yeah, I’ve watched them some on Hulu as well as Airwolf. For some odd reason though it’s not an enthusiasm that others seem to share with me. 😀

  9. I’m picturing Ralphy in “A Christmas Story” going blank on Santa’s lap and squeaking out “football”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had that DOH! moment about 5 steps out of a conversation opportunity.
    When I went to California for my honeymoon 15 years ago, KITT was still there, but he wasn’t speaking. I still can’t decide if it was some kind of personal violation to take my husband’s photo in a sleeping car.

  10. I’ve actually been watching Airwolf a lot on Hulu, lot of episodes I never got to see as a child because it was on later than my parents wanted to have me up. Also as an adult I understand some of the context more. I think Airwolf definitely held up over the years. Other than the cheesey fashions

  11. I saw KITT at Universal, too! We were walking by and this little kid was in the front seat and he said, so excitedly, “I love you so much KITT! You’re my favorite! I watch you every night!” and then KITT said, “I’m not on every night.”
    And KITT wonders why that hot red Corvette he met at the Rainbow Room never called him back…

  12. Maybe KITT and the A-Team Van have a fancy to each other. I’d bet they’d go to the back of a drive in theater and have car sex. But then one day the A-Team Van would find a different windshield wiper fluid on KITT’s rear view mirror and then ultimately KNOW he had been seeing Austin Powers Trippy Hippy Beetle and would call the relationship off, throwing out the hula doll and fluffy dice received as a gift, running it over and then backing up on it again in KITT’s driveway.
    Oh, I’m just wasting time since my 55 year old muse is enjoying daiquiris in a 5 star resort and hasn’t returned my faxes.

  13. Hi, I know this is entirely off topic, and normally I would’ve just written you an email, but I felt obligated to try to get your attention with this in some manner and I don’t know how to contact you.
    It is re: the “I’m a Geek” video. Despite Shira Lazar’s frequent statements that the video was “not some marketing ploy,” it turns out that’s actually EXACTLY what it was. It was produced in conjunction with a viral marketing firm from LA.
    Check this link, it’s a press release from Keldof Marketing promoting the video:
    On the press release, it states, “To discuss potential partnerships with The Society for Geek Advancement, please contact Kevin Seldon from Keldof Marketing at [email protected].”
    Lazar’s been trying to present the video as a sort of togetherness celebration of geek culture. Sounds a lot more like exploitation of geek culture to me (it also explains the weird website and production of the video). You might have already been aware of this, and I’m sorry for taking up your time if you were.
    But I just thought it was important to set the record straight about what exactly the video was: a shameless attempt to market geek culture, pure and simple.
    [email protected]

  14. I remember KITT at Universal Studios! We were on vacation from Texas for two weeks and my teacher had given me a pile of homework to do. I’d done everything except some math I didn’t understand. Right before it was my turn, my mom reminded me that I needed to do it, so I asked KITT if he’d do my math homework. He replied, “I cannot, as I lack hands to hold a pencil with.” :)

  15. Is KITT still there at Universal Studios? I figure he’s more relevant to kids now, with the reincarnation show that was on last year. I know lots of little kids who loved that new show.
    Anyhow, in 1994, I went to Universal Studios, and waited in line to sit in KITT, and have my photo taken with him. But I had no idea that he was a car that could LISTEN as well as talk. I just thought he played pre-recorded messages, and he asked me some question, which I ignored, until he repeated it again. I got out, and someone I was with hissed at me, “Why didn’t you answer?!” And then I realized not only could KITT listen (and it was probably some dude on a two-way speaker thing somewhere) but that they plug it into a speaker system so the people in the line can hear you as well. I wasn’t a little kid at the time either, I was 19, and to this day I still feel like such a tool! At least I still have my KITT photo.

  16. Does anyone remember when they had a near life sized (if not fully to scale) Optimus and Megatron somewhere on the backlot? Better yet, if anyone has pictures of these old attractions, I’d love to see ’em. I didn’t go very many times as a kid and I recall getting a Battle Armor He-man figure upon entry… Oh memories…

  17. In the interest of full disclosure, I sniffed this out because I work in media myself. I feel like this is exactly the sort of dishonest work that gives my profession a bad name.
    Also, as a geek, I just found the video really offensive.

  18. Also, for the record, I’m emailing with Shira Lazar right now, so it’s possible there is some other sort of explanation. We’ll see.

  19. I was the biggest fan of the A-Team when I was in Grade 6, and so was a boy in my class named Jeff Kaufmann. We used to volunteer for lunch time library duty every day and no one understood why we gave up our time. Little did they know that we went down to the library and spent all our time rehashing that week’s A-Team episodes. We used to use the library cart as the van, and give each other rides. Sadly, Jeff moved away that year and I never saw him again.
    I also loved Knight Rider and once had a dream that I worked with Michael Knight. After that I always tried to find ways to write myself into the show.

  20. One time I was at a Q&A session with John Waters. I was dying to ask him, “So… What’s Homer Simpson like, you know, off camera?”

  21. I like that it’s left unsaid that William Daniels probably was not himself trapped 12 hours a day in a room with a two-way radio to play KITT for tourists at Universal Studios. I can enjoy the image.

  22. I was too young for Knight Rider or St Elsewhere, so I associate William Daniels’s distinctive voice with the character of Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World. A fine example of ’90s-era family drama-comedy/coming of age TV. However, that did not stop me from the excitement of learning about KITT GPS. I’m surprised no one mentioned it before.

  23. I was just recently listening to the podcast “Kick-ass mystic ninjas” retro-review of KR. The plot holes they discuss about how Knight Industries handled KARR are pretty good –
    “So they’ve got a super-car but the AI is faulty. Why didn’t they just rip out KARR’s AI and install KITT? Nope, instead they leave KARR in an abandoned garage with a full tank of gas”. :)

  24. Ah, Wil, the guilty Saturday evening TV pleasures such as Knight Rider & Airwolf…they were usually on in the early evening on ITV – inevitably it’d be a lovely sunny evening, so I’d want to be out enjoying the lovely weather, but the draw of finding out what new adventure lay ahead for Michael Knight was impossible to resist! In all my 40 years on God’s green earth I’ve never yet managed to travel to the US, so sadly cannot share the magic of what it must’ve been like – sitting in the magnificent Pontiac TransAm which was KITT…a magical experience for people such as you who got to enjoy it! I remember reading that David Hasselhoff was hopping mad when a child ignored him & just gawped at KITT at some promotional event years ago…foolish of him to seriously think that he was the star of the show…of course it was car!
    KITT was like the perfect cyber-friend…wise, caring, supportive & able to fight it’s way out of a tight spot & save Micheal’s hide to boot if need be…but if circumstances dictated it could just melt into the background too. You knew that if Michael hit the “Turbo” button, he would soon be out of trouble, courtesy of KITT. It was much the same with Airwolf – when Jan-Michael Vincent shouted: “Turbos, Dom”, to Ernest Borgnine’s Dom, I’d be in heaven…off the super-copter would slingshot, easily outrunning the baddies threatening our heroes…great stuff!
    What’s so lovely to me as a lover of technology, though, is how show’s such as these sought to present advances in technology & gadgetry as marvellous things that had the potential to make life so much more fun & less stressful for all of us. A message which is just as relevant today as it was then. I know gadgetry isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but for those of us for which it is, shows like Knight Rider continue to do a great job of spreading that message!
    Thanks again for rekindling some happy memories from long ago, Wil!

  25. I stumbled upon an A-Team episode a while back where they made gun powder muffins that they threw as hand grenades. I was like rly? I thought this show was badass when I watched it as a kid. How did they bake gunpowder muffins without blowing up the old lady’s house they were hiding in? But I guess logic doesn’t really play into 80s action TV shows.

  26. Call me crazy (which happens a lot, actually), but when I think of shows that I watched as a kid and catch reruns of them, it doesn’t matter to me how cheesy they are through my adult eyes, I still enjoy watching them. Hawaii Five-O is one of them. It never gets old to me for some reason, and the fact that Jack Lord’s hair stays so perfectly in place during 45 mph wind cycles and tropical storms only solidifies my own personal belief that McGarrett was the fucking shit. Book ’em Danno, murder one. lol.

  27. Ack! The creepy clown sweater! Dude! That gives me nightmares! Seriously! I think the only thing that creeps me out more than that sweater is Floyd Hansen. No, not the Mathematics Professor, the character that Wil played on Criminal Minds. That was one seriously deranged guy, right there. The thing that scares me the most? Floyd Hansen wearing the clown sweater.
    Great…now I’ve convinced myself that they’re going to resurrect the character as Floyd’s “eviler twin” (coined by Dr. Spencer Reid in a another episode of Criminal Minds), and he’ll be wearing the clown sweater.

  28. I think it’s a more sophisticated system than that, since that’s where Wil stashes his severed body parts collection. Think more along the lines of Hannibal Lecter. I’ve heard stories. On TMZ, so they must be true, right?

  29. Wil, I thought I made myself clear before when I stated that you didn’t want me to have to beat you up for beating yourself up about that ruse you were convinced into participating in. It’s NOT your fault, Man. Let’s try and move past the Geek Culture Riot of 2009, please. Because that was a really bad couple of days for all of us, don’t you agree? A huge clusterfuck of geeks all fighting over the imaginary “Who’s the Biggest Geek?” trophy, being dicks towards one another, breaking off into various factions of geek culture and bashing others instead of celebrating their own respective geekhood. How sad was that? Do we really need that whole mess to rear its ugly head again?
    Seriously…you apologized to me, of all people! The annoying chick who busts your balls on a constant basis, which made me feel like a total piece of shit, BTW, but it’s besides the point. Ball busting aside, I hope you know that I’m right there in the foxhole with you whenever anyone decides to take a cheap shot at you or blames you for something that isn’t even your fault. I stand guard vigilantly in the “Nobody’s Allowed to Screw with Wil on a Personal Level” department 24/7/365, and that’s the God’s honest truth.
    Yeah, it sucks that they sucker punched us in the worst possible way imaginable. But at the same time, harboring regrets over things that you have absolutely no control over whatsoever isn’t going to change anything in the long-term. So let’s say that we’ll just let it go and file it under “Life Lessons Learned the Hard Way.” Or better yet, throw that one into the vault and lock it up for all eternity. Deal?

  30. Hahahaha Jules! That last line about Data killed me! 15 year old me would have LOVED to have found out just how fully functional he was. Highly inappropriate, considering my age at the time, but he’s an android, which doesn’t really classify him as a sexual predator, but more or less a walking, talking marital aid. LOL.
    I’ll cop to it, I had the HUGEST crush on Brent Spiner when I was a teenager. I started off liking Jonathan Frakes during the first season, while my older sister was totally in love with Patrick Stewart, which I thought was really creepy at the time because he’s our Dad’s age. A few years later, I discovered for myself just what the sex appeal in Patrick Stewart was all about, and I still find him incredibly sexy to this very day. But in my heart of hearts, I was a hardcore Data fan, and I still am. I cried my eyes out during the sacrifice scene in Nemesis, and I was 29 years old when that came out.
    I just watched it again recently, and cried my eyes out again when it got to that scene. My older sister was watching it with me at the time, and it was her first time ever seeing the movie and she made fun of me so bad for crying over an android sacrificing himself. I was so mad at her because she kept bringing it up around people just to embarrass me. “OMG, you should have seen Danyiel crying like a baby when that stupid robot on Star Trek killed himself!” My teenage nieces busted on me so hardcore for that it’s not even funny. But you know what? I don’t care! Data, Brent Spiner, FTW!

  31. I do not want to go into the sexiness that is the cast of TNG because I will get excited. Sometimes I think the casting director purposely put a cast together that all the coming of age girls would find at least one character good looking.
    I would say 1 out of 3 episodes, one of the male characters will say something for me to come back with some sexual thing. Worf gives plenty of opportunity for that with his fake cold exterior that you just want to crack. They each have their own sex appeal and I could talk about it for hours.
    Yes Data dying was very sad. It was like Spock dying all over again. Data has a habit of making me cry. I always cry watching Measure of a Man when Riker turns him off and says “Pinocchio is broken. Its strings have been cut.” And then the Dauphin comes on right afterwards and I shake my 12 year old fist at the tv and say DAMN YOU SALIA!

  32. LOL. I don’t know if you have the Next Gen Companion or not, but it really does mention that when they were casting TNG, they were totally going for the sexy factor when casting the roles. Then again, it’s kind of rare to ever see unattractive people in TV shows/films to begin with, which is why so many aging actors are currently injecting their faces with botulism in order to retain a more youthful look, but have managed to do the exact opposite to themselves in the process because they look surprised all the time and have that waxy complexion thing going on. Kind of a double-edged sword for women in particular, because for some reason, men tend to get better looking with age. At least IMO.
    Yeah, I think I stopped crushing on Riker after he pulled that stunt on Data in The Measure of a Man, that and the fact that he kind of became the new Kirk in terms of how much womanizing he did. I deduced at that point that he only had two emotions – angry or horny. Data, having no emotions whatsoever was sexier to me for some reason. Don’t ask me why, he just was. And I totally agree about Michael Dorn, I appreciated him just as much as I did the other men on the show, but since my mostly guy friends who totally worshiped Worf were always going on about how cool he was (and how much they wanted to “do” Troi, Beverly and Tasha or any other female guest star/extra on the show), I would never admit it to them, only to my one girl friend in our Next Gen club, which we would talk about in secrecy from the guys.
    One thing that always bugged me was that poor LeVar Burton’s gorgeous face was partially covered by that VISOR that could double for a hair clip. The guys cruelly called him “mane face.” LOL. Me and my girl friend used to call them mean for picking on him and Wesley all the time. It was a real treat to see him finally get to show off his super-fine self (outside of Reading Rainbow, of course) in First Contact when he got those super cool contact-like implants. The show really should have been called Star Trek: The Sex Generation because of how freaking hot everyone on the show was now that you’ve mentioned it. Yeah, I opened the can of worms. Sorry about that!

  33. Thank you, Darvelous.
    Are you challenging my notion that McGarrett is a bsdass dude with super-powered hair? Surely you jest, my friend. You will never convince me otherwise, so don’t even try. Don’t make me sic Ron Jeremy on you again…

  34. You are killing me however you are giving me a good idea for something lol! I will always have a warm spot for Riker despite his womanizing. You know that mischievous smile and that glint he has, I have an ex that has the same one and it ummm nice. I prefer Geordi with visor and I got angry when they gave him eyes because he said in an episode he would never get implants if it were a possibility. My favourite character will always be Wesley because I was him, I could relate to that character the most. I was a wunderkind and found it very difficult to relate to life and to peers and still do, so despite some of the negatives that some feel the character had, that character allowed me to know that I was no alone in a weird sort of way.
    No I am ashamed to admit I do not have the Next Gen Companion.
    I was the only person in my peer group that was into Star Trek and science fiction and the only geek till I was in about grade 10. To this day, my friends from elementary and my family still tease me about my love for Star Trek and sci-fi. Star Trek was so important to me (and I mentioned this once in an interview) that I even included its return to air in my Grade 6 science project on Astronomy.
    I fell in love with the original series when I was 5 and I am a lifer and proud of it!

  35. At least KITT got a job after Kight Rider I just read this sad story about Airwolf :(
    “Sad” Airwolf found performing at children’s parties
    PALM BEACH. 1980s killing machine Airwolf, once the master of global airspace in the capable hands of Stringfellow Hawk and ageing sidekick Dominic Santini, has been discovered in Palm Beach, Florida, performing at birthday parties for the children of the rich and famous.
    The helicopter gunship is widely credited with bringing down the Soviet Union, saving dozens of prisoners-of-war from Vietnamese internment camps, and repeatedly destroying the entire Libyan air force.
    However Airwolf disappeared suddenly in the early 1990s, with some experts speculating that co-pilot Santini, who was already displaying early onset dementia in 1989, had accidentally flown the chopper into the side wall of the extinct New Mexico crater in which it was housed.
    But this week the Cold Warrior was rediscovered by salesman Doug Simms and his wife Barb, as they were returning from a day of miniature golf.
    “We were going past this huge mansion, and next thing the chopper kind of hovered up into view over the wall,” said Doug.
    “At first I yelled, ‘Shit, Barb! Airwolf! Get down!’ I was pretty sure it was going to strafe us, because that’s what Airwolf does, you know?”
    Simms said that a moment later the gunship’s belly-mounted rocket pods extended. However he said that instead of spitting flaming shrapnel-studded death, the pods dribbled out “four or five pink balloons”.
    It was then, Simms said, that he realised that the chopper was providing the entertainment for an expensive children’s birthday party.
    “It was real depressing,” said Simms. “Airwolf looked kind of sad. He wasn’t roaring or doing that screaming thing he used to do when he was flying low. He just dropped some balloons on the kids, and then landed, and some kid smashed an ice-cream cone on his window, and another kid took a pee on where his machine-guns used to pop out.”
    Subsequent enquires by local media have established that the chopper was bought by Magical Laughing Fairy Entertainment in 1998, and since then has been used as a party piece in Florida.
    Current pilot Nigel Smith, of Devonshire in the UK, says he never met Stringfellow Hawk, but did find alcohol- and urine stains on the pilot seat when he took over. He also confirmed that his experience of strafing Soviet airfields and dogfighting with Libyan MiGs was “limited”.
    “Yeah, I haven’t done much of that,” he told the Tampa Herald. “No call for it at kiddies’ parties, you see. In fact, no, I’ve never done it.”
    Asked if he had ever emulated Stringfellow Hawk and flown from New Mexico to northern Siberia and then to Vietnam and back on a single tank of fuel, he said, “No.”

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