No More Kings Has Me In a Nostalgia Hammerlock

Here comes Michael
He’s got that look like he’s in too deep
That’s just like him
Truth be told, he needs a good night’s sleep

When I was young, I loved the TV show Knight Rider. I can remember the ads for it, comparing K.I.T.T. to the General Lee. “This car can do more than jump,” the announcer informed us all.

I was hooked.

Every week David Hasselhoff rode around in his car and cracked wise with the car’s AI (who, much to my confusion, moonlighted as a doctor). The Hoff, his car, and his hair saved the day. It was glorious.

He’s not in the mood for metaphor
Open up the car door and just turn the radio on
So long, Michael
It was nice to see you, too

Several years ago I was on a business trip. I checked into my hotel and sank down on the bed, glad to have a few hours before I had to go to a meeting. I turned on the TV, and there was Knight Rider! I hadn’t seen it since the 1980s, so I settled in to watch.

Oh, wow, was it bad. It was so bad it made me want to build a time machine, go back to 1982, and punch my younger self in the mouth. This was the show I had loved so much? Wooden acting, obvious plot setups, and an evil hoffelgänger who you know is evil because he has facial hair? The mind reels.

And yet, K.I.T.T. was still cool. William Daniels was as acerbic as I remembered. The Cylon-like lights on the front were still a nice, albeit goofy, touch.

We see it all the time
So keep it comin’
But our necks are on the line
And that’s not funny

Fast-forward to 2007. For one of the Friday Night Videos I featured No More Kings’ “Sweep the Leg”. It was a fun amalgam of 1980s nostalgia. I got interested in the band, listened to their songs, and bought their album when it came out a few weeks ago. Now I can’t get one of their songs out of my head.

And it’s the one written from the point of view of K.I.T.T.

Jump in, let’s save the world
Kick off your shoes and put on your sunglasses
Jump in, let’s save the world
Turbo boost and we’ll see who’s the fastest
Jump in, let’s save the world
Let’s, let’s save the world

It’s guitar-driven power pop, the kind I can’t resist. It’s got 1980s nostalgia. It’s got a good hook and the bridge is fun. The future being what it is, you can hear “Michael (Jump In)” on the band’s MySpace page. Not all of their songs are about 1980s pop culture, though all are stories about characters, from zombies to a bumblebee in love. It just happens that the one that is lodged deep in my brain is the one about a beloved TV show from my childhood.

Go check them out. Maybe their songs will lodge in your brain, too.

It’s not like you to turn your back and let the dark side win
C’mon, Michael, open the door and jump in.

10 thoughts on “No More Kings Has Me In a Nostalgia Hammerlock

  1. I like songs that tell stories. 🙂 My 80s guilty pleasure was, of all things, “Scarecrow and Mrs. King.”

  2. I liked Knight Rider, too. I remember a similar show, though, with a motorcycle, called Street Hawk (or something). The gimmick was that if the motorcycle went a certain speed, it would “fly” and do all these cool stunts. Not as cool as KIT since it didn’t talk, but it was the same kind of save-the-world kind of show.

    Sadly, no one ever seems to know what I am talking about.

  3. I remember that show, I think it was Street Hawk. Loved it too, not as much as KR but close. My best friend in 6th grade, she and I got into Airwolf, which no one remembers that show either.

  4. Joyce, I watched some of Scarecrow and Mrs. King, which made season 2 of Babylon 5 a very weird experience.

    As for you other two, ha! you are both wrong. I, too, remember both Street Hawk and Airwolf. For those of you who don’t, Wikipedia is your friend.

  5. The holy trinity of cheesy “guy” shows of that era has to be Knight Rider, Airwolf, and The A-Team. Anyone who says otherwise is itchin’ for a fight.

    No, really, I mean it. Me and four of my friends will saddle up in Voltron and kick your ass!

  6. Let’s see… 80’s shows I loved that involved some weird kind of super technology/vehicle of some kind:

    Knight Rider is just obvious. I “graduated” to this from The Dukes of Hazzard. I, like Stephen, found myself horrified when I watched re-runs of this on TV Land a few years ago. I think what really got me was the Sledgehammer of Morality [tm] with which they were bashing me about the head. As a kid, me and a friend actually used to play a game out on the playground where I would be K.I.T.T., and he would “drive” me by my shoulders. Actually, his name was Steven. I wonder if he remembers that. Oh… obligatory comment: Mmm. Bonnie. 🙂

    I LOVED Airwolf. For some reason, as a child I was always fascinated by the elaborate power-up rituals often shown in shows like this when starting the “super-machine” (see also Voltron). I distinctly remember that there was some sequence of buttons that they always showed Stringfellow Hawke using when they started Airwolf. Trivia: Airwolf was a dressed-up Bell 222. Apparently, only 99 of that helicopter were ever built (5 were prototypes).

    Street Hawk I also remember well and loved. This is another show that figured into my pretend play as a child. My childhood best friend and I used to play a game based on this show while we were riding the bus to and from school. Now that I know more about motorcycles, it’s interesting for me to learn that the bike in the show was based on a 500cc Honda off-road bike. It surprises me it wasn’t a sport bike, but then again, I’m not sure that sport bikes had really caught on back then.

    Blue Thunder I also remember. I saw the movie and the TV series. This one wasn’t as cool as Airwolf. 🙂 Helicopter was based on a French model called the “Gazelle”.

    Automan: A computer-generated crime fighter who could gain physical form by using lots of electricity. Thus, he could only appear at night (when power usage was low). His sidekick, Cursor, was basically able to “draw” any device he needed. Most often it was a car.

    Something I find interesting but not all that surprising: at least some of these shows involved geeks hiding in the wings with varying levels of control over the “super-devices”. Automan and Street Hawk are the most obvious examples, but Knight Rider as well (did I mention Bonnie? *grin*)

    Then there were all the cartoons that I group loosely into this genre: Voltron, Transformers, Go Bots, The Mighty Orbots, and the classic and prototype: Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, which I grew up knowing as “Battle of the Planets” (re-cast and watered down again as “G-Force” years later). I’d actually love to see all the old _original_ Gatchaman episodes (subtitled). A direct-to-video movie was made in ’94 that I saw and actually really enjoyed.

  7. Knight Rider shows on Sleuth every once in a while. I also really enjoyed that show, but I can’t stand to watch it any more either. I still enjoy Simon & Simon, though.

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