Thursday, February 07, 2008

Ford Presents Knight Rider Presents Ford

It's hard to decide just how to feel about the Knight Rider remake/sequel. On one hand, this interview is heartening, as I'm in agreement that TV could use more light one-hour shows about cool guys with cool cars. On the other hand, it would be nice if we got a new show with a new idea for a cool guy with a cool car. And while I'd love for a show about a cool car to succeed, I don't know if we want to contribute to a Ben Silverman world where every show is a remake of another show.

The choice of KITT is also difficult to reconcile. I already like Mustangs, and Shelby Cobra Mustangs, and the more I get used to the idea, the more it seems fine for KITT. But I hate clumsy, obvious product tie-ins, and the fact is that despite what the above-linked interview says, it seems to be the case that the real reason a Mustang was chosen is that Ford paid a shitload of money to make it happen. Maybe the producers actually did look at other cars, and maybe the Shelby was even the best one, but as far as NBC was concerned, it's hard to imagine that the producers could have chosen a different car if Ford was offering the biggest money.

The result is that we have a KITT based on a cool car, but unlike the old KITT, whose Trans-Am badging was all removed, we have a Kitt whose prominently displayed Ford and Shelby Cobra logos are the subject of numerous glamorous close-ups. This is unnecessary. In the old series, it made sense (to the extent that anything about the concept makes sense) that if you were to modify a car so as to fully outfit it with crazy gadgets, you might as well leave off the insignias so it stands alone as a unique car. That didn't stop viewers from recognizing KITT as a Trans-Am, or young fans from lusting after Trans-Ams of their own. Similarly, if the new Knight Rider is a hit, that will be enough to make people want a cool car like KITT, but Ford doesn't trust us to get it and has to bombard us with the fact that that is their car. Trouble is, it's all so obvious and we're all so hyper-aware of it, that it actually makes us want it less. If you are constantly being reminded that the only reason this car was selected was because someone badly wants you to want it, your mind rebels. The manipulation is too obvious. You feel like you'd be a sucker to want it now.

Even worse, it leads to bullshit like this. Besides nostalgia and car love, Will Arnett voicing KITT was probably the coolest thing about this remake, and now he's being forced to pull out because he's spent years as the voice of GM car commercials. It makes sense that GM wouldn't want their main voice guy voicing a Ford commercial, but how sad is it that this remake is so thoroughly whored out that it is a Ford commercial?! Silly Will Arnett probably thought that it would be okay, that he was simply being cast in a TV show that wouldn't conflict with his duties as a pitchman. Sorry, no, this is an ad. Didn't you know?

I'm not asking for much. Just that product placement isn't so painfully overwhelming that actors literally find themselves removed from projects due to conflicts of advertising interest.



Also, when the show itself is literally a car commercial, is it still clever to make the promo sound like a car commercial? Or does it show your hand just a little too much?

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1 comment:

lyan! said...

yeah, they should have the show-data like they might the MSRP or some shit, if they're going to go car commerical, they should go all the way. But I guess people don't write car commercials, so you can't blame them for not going all the way.