Ben 10: Ultimate Alien [2010] Season 1. 20 Episodes

Wait, there were like four seasons of Ben 10, three of Ben 10: Alien Force, and now Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. Okay, what is the difference between the last two? New cast? Negative. New powers? Not really. New feel or format? Nope. New attitude? Sadly no.

Well, Ben does try to act tough in a fairly ham handed and unlikable way. How new that is we leave to your discretion.

A new emergence of the Forever Knights? No, they are still sadly underused and largely lame villains. Remember the “Ben 10″ seasons? Those were the days…

What about Captain N? He was new.

So what is new? Ben is outed as a “hero”, and there is a new villain. Oh, his faux omnitrix has a ultimate setting which is designed to make beefed up versions of existing transformations in order to sell more action figures. But does that make any difference at all to the plot? No.

At least he does not look like a bad guy… well he does not have satanic horns- uh, never mind. (Is he Darth Maul’s long lost father?)

The season in a sentence: Ben, Gwen and Kevin are unhappy people who never get along well and somehow stumble into battles with bad aliens and emerge victorious despite a huge chip on Kevin’s shoulder, an always angry Gwen and chronic underachiever Ben who you will want to punch more than root for despite a ham handed attempt to make him suddenly smart at the end of the season.

Gwen Tennyson: Unhappy girl. Hey, we did look.

Uh, guys… make sure you know what your girl is REALLY like. You know. Underneath.

On the bright side some of the classic alien transformations you liked way back when make appearances. Max Tennison, original plumber hero is back and still doing well. Hmm, other highlights? There were not many. Oh, Charmcaster is back. They tried to rush a transformation of her character. But she is fun and interesting so we still welcomed the flawed effort.

Charmcaster turns nice? Maybe she should join the cast to cheer it up next season.

Max Tennyson. Still likable (more or less) after all these seasons. This season he gets treated with “space medicine”. Yup, that’s right. The ol’ tank of fluid.

The tone was just monotonous for 20 episodes. We hand it to series creator “Man of Action” for making a series strong enough to withstand the same gray, subdued and generally dissatisfying note episode after episode. The endings also stepped on many episode’s resolutions. The satisfaction you gained from (maybe) defeating a bad guy was practically ruined by an fifteen second insert at the end where something bad inevitably happened. Yuck.

Gwen does not chill out the entire season.

Kevin turns into a freakizoid to insure that an almost likable character is reduced to the likability level of Ben.

What makes Ben so unlikeable?

  • He is irresponsible.
  • He makes snap, unthinking or selfish decisions in combat.
  • He is generally, almost willfully obtuse.
  • They try to make him suddenly smart.
  • He is a shallow person whose goal in life is apparently getting a smoothie.
  • He (constantly) repeats the necessity to kill one of his teammates for three episodes without thinking much about an alternative.

But Ben does make time for Twilight wannabe star Jennifer Nocturne.

Too much spider monkey this season. We do not get it. Maybe the action figure sells.

An interesting face from the past was the strange Alien-X. Not seen since the first season of Alien Force, the overpowered alien was not even used but rather made into a plot device. The unlocking of the omnitrix in order to transform into him was cool though. Would that this uber-powerful alien could be put on some sort of cosmic timer and be unleashed once a season…

The unlocking scene was the coolest part of this season’s Alien-X cameo. (“X” must stand for “extra”, because that is how much we have seen this transformation.)

New arc villain Aggregor had potential. But he was more interesting as an intelligent villain -before he powered himself up to be a brute. It seemed somehow beneath his built up stature. Despite potential, he has so far fallen short of Vilgax.

The Rustbucket 3 was cool. Although a little much in the unrealistic size and scope department… Cars are one thing, huge spaceships (with hyperdrive) another.

The plumbers showed up enough to get kicked around. These guys are supposed to be the powerful galactic police? Sooper genius and omnitrix creator Azmuth shows up mostly to yell at Ben and criticize the “ultramatrix” which we too found underwhelming.

Azmuth, sooper-genius creator of the original omitrix thinks the “evolution” feature of the ultramatrix is dumb. We cannot say we much disagree.

If you are looking for a show with a lot of arguing, where even the heroes do not get along, this may be for you. It does have its moments of action, but none of humor, and few of satisfaction. 20 episodes of pressure are not relieved by the last 10 seconds of the season where the heroes decide to go have a smoothie.

We are okay with the homage to Ultraman. What you say? Who is Ultraman?

Check out our Ben 10 franchise takes:

Alien Force Season 1

Alien Force Season 2

Alien Force Season 3

Ultimate Alien Season 1

Ultimate Alien Season 2 (part 1)

Ultimate Alien Season 2 (Conclusion)

Ben 10: Destroy All Aliens

Ben 10: Alien Force. Season 3 [2009-2010] 19 Episodes

Ben 10 has turned into a popular franchise for the Cartoon Network.  Following 4 seasons of Ben 10, we come to this, the third and last season of  Ben 10: Alien Force. We liked it as much as season 1.   Per episode it was more entertaining and less depressing than than season 2. However it lacked in the “ending” department.  Perhaps the producers did not worry about a comprehensive series finale with Ben 10: Ultimate Alien already in the works.

Although not really necessary considering the overall plot has not changed since last season, we will do our patented one sentence synopsis anyway:

We continue to adventure with part alien magical whiz kid Gwen, part alien metamorphic wise guy Kevin, and part irresponsible unlikable hero Ben as they continue to counter alien menaces, re-fight old enemies and right past wrongs – often at night.

In the future people will be able to select their eye color. We suspect there will be a run on green.

What? They actually made an “Alien-X” action figure? He was used only once in the whole series back in season one, and that was a frustrating experience.

Ben Tennison is unlikable you say?  Yeah.  They do it on purpose, supposedly fueling a triumphant changeover to responsibility in the end.  But that change came late, and when it did it was weak at best.  So we had to experience 18.75 episodes of lazy, indifferent, overconfident and unworthy Ben for a minimal (non) payoff.  Fortunately, the show is fun despite this and the supporting cast is thankfully strong.

Gwen is back, and gets a new outfit. Wow, that is a surprisingly decent martial arts pose.

Some of the plots were a little too contrived.  “Cute alien students travel to a small town regularly for spring break where they eat popcorn and then poop gold.”  Oh, feed them meat and they turn into monsters.  Yeah.  Whatever.  At least it was an episode that featured other people.  The feeling communicated by Alien Force has been that of an empty world in perpetual night.  It is as if no other people exist.  It makes the show feel a little small.

Speaking of small, 8 inch super genius Azmuth is back. Smart? Heck yeah. But he sure is ugly (and crotchety).

Chicks dig Ben 10. See?

Often the strength of the show is its varied enemies and plots.  The format is not overly formulaic.  However the drawback to this also occurred.  One episode hit us over the head with a particularly in-your-face anti-war message, and some left you with no denouement or a downer.  Additionally, there really was no season arc.  They could have used one.

Vilgax is back, and shows an even uglier form (not this one). He has become a series-spanning franchise arch enemy.  And guess what he wants?  Uh yeah, revenge. 

Speaking of uglier forms, Michael Morningstar is back (and still wrestling with a stubborn skin condition).

A series strength was some of your favorite guest stars return for appearances.  Captain Tetrax, Azmuth, Vilgax and everyone’s favorite time spanning professor, Paradox.   Max Tennison and the newbie plumber’s kids also make return appearances.  However, the Forever Knights were underutilized again.  Pity.  Fun group.

Do not forget villain Charmcaster. She wins the award for best “Bad-Guy Poses” again this season.

Professor Paradox is a strong character, and convenient for various plots. “Time travel is for immortals and fools. I seem to be the only immortal hereabouts. You do the math.”

A particularly good episode featured a terrible alternate future created when one of our heroes tried to alter the past.  It is a tired and overused science fiction plot… that never gets old!  Really.  Man of Action, the enigmatic creator behind Ben 10 must be a classic sci fi fan, because he peppers the series with bits of homage.  For example the verbal destruct code to the Omnitrix is also the one used in the original Star Trek in the late 1960′s.

Another broken alternate future. (This happens to the X-Men like every other month.)

The Moonbus spaceship from multiple episodes.

The Moonbus from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

We would have preferred if the series went somewhere this season.  The only person who experienced significant change was Kevin.  His mutation caused in the first episode is fixed at the end.  He avenges at long last the murder of his father by letting the killer apparently die.  That was mature, and is indicative that the show was not one for kids like the original Ben 10.  In the end Kevin got additional focus and has an emotional breakthrough.

Hey Ragnarok, in space no one can hear you scream. Oh, you’ll understand soon enough.

New alien form Wrath lived up to his name. Mostly entertaining (his shtick only got old once in a while).  And his breath is minty fresh!

The series ends with Ben getting the ultramatrix from his evil twin*; a weak (and convenient) set up for the next series.  This one closed on a note not equal to the dramatic season two ending. Still it is an interestingly designed series and well worth watching.

Yes the series ends with a group hug… in front of a fusion explosion? We do not have the heart to tell them they are now all sterile.

Check out our Ben 10 franchise takes:

Alien Force Season 1

Alien Force Season 2

Alien Force Season 3

Ultimate Alien Season 1

Ultimate Alien Season 2 (part 1)

Ultimate Alien Season 2 (Conclusion)

Ben 10: Destroy All Aliens

 

Jack Hunter [2008-2009] (mini-series)

Jack_Hunter_Title_Banner

Jack Hunter and the: Lost Treasure of Ugarit, Quest for Akhenaten’s Tomb, and Star of Heaven comprised a mini-series that ran as three made-for-TV movies in 2008-2009.  They were a pleasant surprise in what many believe has become a reality TV wasteland.

"I'm Jack Hunter.  I've got rugged good looks.  Oh, and the hat.  Chicks dig the hat."

“Hi.  I’m Jack Hunter. I’ve got rugged good looks. Oh, and the hat. Chicks dig the hat.”

"...But I am more than a pretty face.  I'm smart.  Check out this pose I worked on for hours in the mirror."

“…But I am more than a pretty face. I’m smart. Check out this pose I practiced for hours.”

The series was an outright homage to the Indiana Jones format, but certainly not the only one.  If you ever enjoyed these other rip-offs -

  1. King Solomon’s Mines
  2. High Road to China
  3. Bring ‘em Back Alive
  4. Tales of the Gold Monkey
  5. Relic Hunter
  6. the Lara Croft movies
  7. the National Treasure movies
  8. The Librarian series
  9. or even Treasure of the Four Crowns (in 3D!)

- then chances are you will enjoy Jack Hunter.

"Hello, I am Nadia; a hard-nosed, no-nonsense, cool-tempered Syrian archeologist.  I meet Jack in the first film.

“Hello, I’m Nadia.  I meet Jack in the first film.  I’m a hard-nosed, no-nonsense, cool-tempered Syrian archeologist.  …Okay, but is this pose really any more contrived than Jack’s ‘think pose’?”

"Alright darn it! I get feelings for Jack. But who doesn't in this series?"

“Alright darn it! I get feelings for Jack. But who doesn’t in this series?  Isn’t he dreamy?”

Let us enlighten with our one-sentence synopsis:  Brilliant and ruggedly handsome archeologist turned adventurer Jack Hunter must avenge the murder of his mentor and finish his work to find two ancient and legendarily powerful items while along the way meeting a pretty Syrian archeologist, an old flame, and scores of bad guys, corrupt officials, mobsters, murderers and the greatest danger of them all, love.

"I am Littmann, self described 'bad guy'.  Do not blame me.  All the blonds in this series are bad.  But it's really about the money."

“I am Littmann, self described ‘bad guy’. Do not blame me. All the blonds in this series are bad. But it’s really about the money.”

Dude, are you really holding a high-powered sniper rifle like that?  You shoot like a (untrained) girl.

Dude, are you really shooting a high-powered sniper rifle like that?  You shoot like a (untrained) girl.

Jack Hunter is not some small series.  They clearly had a budget and used every penny of it.  You will certainly get the all important “sense of travel” – a key ingredient for an adventure.  The locations the producers found were fresh and interesting.

Jack_hunter_locations_03U

It is easy to get a little romantic in this peaceful spot.

It is easy to get a little romantic in this peaceful and scenic location.

There was plenty of action – fist fights, gunfights, and car chases – and plenty of special effects to help sell them.  Some of the special effects were more subtle and likely a money saving/story enhancing feature, which is fine if done well.

Jack_hunter_locations_02u

In this budget busting scene, Jack uses the first artifact like a "death hose".

In this budget busting scene, Jack uses the first artifact like a “death hose”.

Yup.  It pretty much atomizes whoever it hits.  Sorry nameless goons.

Yup. It pretty much atomizes whoever it hits. Sorry nameless goons.

The bad guy’s roster becomes a real crowded rogue’s gallery.  From annoyances like duplicitous NSA agents and rent-a-cops, to murderous archeological rivals, ancient cults, ancient sects, and even good old Russian mobsters.  It is enough to make you consider a safer career, like bomb squad technician.

"Call me Lena.  Like most archeologists, I'm fabulously good looking -- huh?  The blond hair?  Oh crud, I'm dead."

“Call me Lena. Like most archeologists, I’m fabulously good looking.  I’m Jack’s old flame you meet in the second movie — huh? The blond hair? Oh crud, I’m dead.”

Jack's suitors.  Hmmm, which of these two is eeeeeville?

Jack’s suitors. Hmmm, which of these two is eeeeeville?

Jack Hunter was ambitious but did not overreach (much).  From the stylish opening credits to the well composed music you’ll experience a bit of the exotic, and probably feel like spitting sand out of your mouth after yet another trek through the hot desert on foot.

"Oh not again!  What is this, like the 4th desert walk in two movies!  Why don't we ever bring any water!"

“Oh not again! What is this, like the 4th desert walk in two movies! Why don’t we ever bring any water!  Why are we following you?  Darn those rugged good looks!”

goofball stereotypical comic releif whose antics save the day more than once and who   comes up with that sage advice when you least expect it.  (We can arugue how "sage" the   advoce to go for the girl was another time.)

Tariq was the stereotypical goofball comic relief whose antics save the day more than once and who comes up with sage advice when you least expect it. (We can argue how “sage” the advice to “go for the girl” was another time.)

Everybody, except the authorities, liked Jack.  Every major female in the series was or had been attracted to him.  Even the major bad guy would rather work with him than kill him.

"Can you blame them?  Have I mentioned my rugged good looks?"

“Can you blame them? Have I mentioned my rugged good looks?”

The artifacts themselves turn out to be powerful weapons indeed.  Although at the final climax when the second is combined with the first, we were led to expect a little — well, more.  Something beyond just a more powerful version of the original.  Still it did the job – against incompetents.

You're messing with forces you don't understand.  "I'm invincible!"

“I’m invincible!”  If you will pardon the cliche, ‘You’re messing with forces you don’t understand.’

It is a good bet that when a final showdown occurs in a gravel pit or abandoned quarry you will be looking at some serious fireworks.

It is a good bet that when a final showdown occurs in a gravel pit or abandoned quarry you will be looking at some serious fireworks.

Take Liz for example, she oversaw a terribly easy and yet completely botched snatch-and-grab operation.  A covert ops team thwarted by hired goons with handguns.  Then she proceeded to get an entire field platoon annihilated with great commands like. “Kill [that guy] at all costs!”  The cost was all your men dipstick, and the guy was not killed by them.

im liz

“I’m Liz, the first love interest in this series (and that is saying something considering the rate at which women are throwing themselves at Jack).  Look how cute and perky I am.  But I am hiding a dangerous secret…”

the eod

Yowza, what a transformation.  Liz turns out to be a ruthless (and somewhat incompetent) NSA team leader–  and a nag!  Man, the NSA is really lowering its standards these days.

at keast

At least she is a crack shot with a sniper rifle.  (Better looking at it than Littmann), but her poor tactical orders afterward see to the death of her entire detachment.  Nice job  *%$#@!

The first movie takes you through the arid Syrian desert, the second through the dry wastes of Egypt, and the third the barren backside of Turkey.  Yes, it is a middle east tour with the occasional stop at a European Villa, coffee-shop, or NSA command center.

napalm

Why do bad guys always use old refineries, combustible chemical factories, and other volatile places for their lairs?  Here we see Jack, Tariq, and Nadia’s stunt doubles racing out of the exploding abandoned napalm factory.

cumuppance

Wow.  Well done.  This is comeuppance.  Please, entertainment writers of all sorts, take note.

They nursed the romance nicely between all the sweat and dehydration, although we expected more at the end.  Will their bond last or must Jack stay a free adventurer with no strings?

but jack what about 'us'? see you in the sequel, Jack Hunter and the grecian vacation.

“But Jack what about ‘us’?”  “I’ll see you in the sequel, ‘Jack Hunter and the Grecian Vacation’  – if ya’ know what I mean.  Heh.”

While we may poke fun at Jack Hunter it was a lot of fun. Free entertainment broadcast to your couch (or Fortress) and worth watching.

Addendum:

Do you want people to watch your TV mini-series?  Get Optimus Prime to do voice over work for your promo!

If you like Jack Hunter,

you might enjoy checking out our take on

The Librarian Movie-Series

Star Trek [2009]

star_trek_casts

We here in the Fortress were unanimous on Karl Urban's performance as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy.  Nicely written and well acted.  He (in blue) even has the look.

We here in the Fortress were unanimous on Karl Urban's performance as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy. Nicely written and well acted. He (in blue) even has the look. "Darn it Jim! I'm an actor not a doctor!"

The Fortress sees all from its Arctic perch.  We can view Star Trek from the everyman’s perspective as well as that of the Trekker.  Both are needed as this movie attempts to mainstream the longstanding franchise out of the depths of geekdom.

The famous (or infamous) Shatner "Get a Life!" skit from SNL.

The famous (or infamous) Shatner "Get a Life!" skit from SNL.

Doing a “reboot”, “re-envisioning”, “reimagining” — whatever they are calling it now, is a perilous tightrope where too far to either side alienates half your audience.  The adage, “if you are going to reimagine, go for it in a big way” is not true in these cases.  Film producers can further derail a franchise 45 years in the making easier than reinvigorating it.

"Did someone call for a franchise killer?"

"Did someone call for a franchise killer?"

So they gave Kirk a new origin.  The everyman does not care, and Trekkers may find it more fitting for Starfleet’s future all star.  However did they have to make young Kirk such a punk?  That whole car theft scene – trashing a beauty of a corvette and subjecting us to 90 seconds of musical carnage accomplished what exactly?

Kirk and the under construction Enterprise:  The ground-based dry dock made for some awesome visuals.

Kirk and the under construction Enterprise: The ground-based dry dock made for some awesome visuals. As you can see it was almost impossible to find this stealthy, secret construction facility.

Spock was altered the most, and in our opinion too far.  It undermined what the character is about.  Everyone always knew Spock may be sad underneath, but he could never show it and you sympathized and related to him.  It was a great counter balance to his superior strength and intellect.

Sure, you probably felt a little bad for boy Spock picked on in a logical manner by full Vulcan twerps.

Sure, you probably felt bad for boy Spock picked on in a logical manner by full Vulcan twerps.

Grown up Sylar...er, Spock was a jerk.

Grown up Sylar...er, Spock was a jerk.

There was little room to sympathize here.  He bullies and is arrogant.  He has a romantic relationship with Uhura that will throw many for a loop.  “Isn’t he a Vulcan?” those with even the slightest Trek knowledge may ask.  In the 45 years of Star Trek history, have we ever seen a Vulcan kiss much less steam it up scene after scene?

Dude!  Get a grip, or a (transporter) room.  Come on, for 45 years the private Vulcan's most intimate public gesture was the touching of a couple fingers.  This is a serious PDA.

Dude! Get a grip, or a (transporter) room. Come on, for 45 years the private Vulcan's most intimate public gesture was the touching of a couple fingers. This is a serious PDA.

The Enterprise was not immune to “reimagining”, but with such an iconic design (even to the less initiated) it was done in a way that did not burn the corneas of our Star Trek sensibilities.  We do not think all the new bumps and lights were necessary or added to the aesthetics, but the all import proportions were respected.

Some of the sectoins seem to jut out at ackward angles, the lower hull was made too busy int eh front.  Also honestly, of all the things they could have put on the front of the nacelles, they chose silver mirrored balls?

Some of the sections seem to jut out at awkward angles, the lower hull's front is busy, and the mirrored balls on the nacelles are -er, different. Is it better than the Enterprise of Star Trek: The Motion Picture? No. Is it at least fair to the franchise? Yes (more-or-less).

The space battles were dazzlingly rendered.  However this seemed to come at the price of clarity.  Making it pretty does not mean you are communicating what the heck is happening.  Everything became confusing pulses of flying light.  Star Trek’s two most iconic weapons – phasers and photon torpedoes – might just as well have been bundles of bottle rockets.

What is happening here?  I do not know.  Are those microscopic blue dots supposed to be phasers?

What is happening here? We do not know. Are those microscopic blue dots supposed to be phasers?

Back in the day when photon torpedoes meant something:  This shot from Star Trek: The Motion Picture shows those cool flare lines that were so visually fun and easy to track.

Back in the day when photon torpedoes meant something: This shot from Star Trek: The Motion Picture shows those cool flare lines that were so visually fun and easy to track.

Star_Trek_motion_picture_photon_torpedo

star_trek_motion_picture_photon_torpedo_2

The plot was classic Trek for better or worse, mostly the former.  One sentence synopsis?  A vengeful enemy from the future appears with a ginormously powerful ship with which he destroys an inhabited world, and only one man and his heroic band of freedom fighters…  oops, sorry -  only young Kirk, overly amorous Spock, and a new inexperienced crew stand between the destruction of its next target, Earth!

Chris Pine had the Kirk command chair poses down.

Chris Pine had the Kirk command chair poses down.

star-trek-inspirational-poster

To “mainstream” it the movie was also very un-Trek.  You may notice the lack of “technobable”.  There was barely a hint of “rerouting the power”, and not a single instance of “reversing the polarity”!

Now was there a single scene filmed in Vasquez Rocks with a guy dressed up in a rubber alien suit.  Scandalous!

Nor was there a single scene filmed in Vasquez Rocks with a guy dressed up in a rubber alien suit. Scandalous!

In a few places it felt like Star Trek was made by people who do not know the franchise.  The lack of green glows on the Romulan ship – heck, those guys hardly even looked Romulan.

Honestly, does this guy look very Romulan?

Honestly, does this guy look very Romulan?

Here Kirk himself demonstrates what a real Romulan looks like.

Here Kirk himself demonstrates what a real Romulan looks like.

It was entertaining.  However the time-traveling, continuity-wrecking story comes at a high price.  Trekkers will forever have to differentiate now between “original continuity” versus “Abram’s continuity”.  We suppose this gives him license to take Trek wherever he wants now, which was probably his plan from the start.

Bruce Greenwood did well as Capt. Pike.  It is nice to see that character unearthed from Star Trek lore.

Bruce Greenwood did well as Capt. Pike. It is nice to see that character unearthed from Trek lore.

It was great homage to Star Trek: The Motion Picture (which is well regarded in the Fortress) in the area of the Admiral's uniforms.

It was great homage to Star Trek: The Motion Picture (which is well regarded in the Fortress) regarding the Admiral's uniforms. (But where are the bald female Deltan crew members?)

Star_trek_deltan_ilia_peris _khambatta

Be careful for what you wish for J.J. Abrams.  The Star Trek franchise is sharp on both ends, and fans of any sort can be hard to please.

There is Pine pulling off the Shatner/Kirk command sit again.  The sets were so white and sterile that they reminded us of some space dental office.

Pine pulls off the Shatner/Kirk "command sit" again. We were glad to see blue come back as a prominent color. However, the sets were so white and sterile they reminded us of some space dental office. "Darn it Jim! I'm a doctor not a denti-, ...ah, never mind."

Knight Rider [2008-2009] Season 1. 17 Episodes

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First, let the Fortress establish where it stands.  We were very fond of the original Knight Rider [1982].  We do not even acknowledge the existence of a TV movie that may or may not have been made in 1991.  Team Knight Rider [1997] had its moments, but was not really Knight Rider format – although its opening theme was and is one of the most awesome ever and included a narration by Don LaFontaine – the movie trailer voice.  (Listen for yourself:)

"Look at me with my alternative good looks and space cadet attitude (but really smart underneath).  I'm here to attract guys who wouldn't go for the regular good looking girl.

"Look at me with my alternative good looks and spacey attitude (but really smart underneath). I'm Zoe and am here to attract guys who wouldn't go for the regular good looking girl."

"I'm the government hard-ass with a secret military agenda stereotype.  I have federally mandated these statistically proven cool factors."

"I'm the government hard-ass with a secret military agenda stereotype. I have federally mandated statistically proven cool factors."

If the 2008 Knight Rider strikes you as trying too hard to be hip and cool, you would be right.  Keep all heavy throw-able objects out of reach while watching because you will be ambushed by horrid overbearing electric guitar and scream metal.  This usually happens at designated scene transitions designed to up the cool-factor with young hipsters.  That and the over-the-top hip hop ambushes only succeed in causing excessive blood loss from viewer’s ears.

In fact during the last episode Mike [the star] asks K.I.T.T. if he could do anything about the mind-grating hip-hop ambush we had been subject to for over a minute.  Even K.I.T.T.’s choice of a 1970′s disco tune, designed to be funny, was a welcome release.  Too bad Mike did not complain earlier – and all season long.

Kitt faces his evil twin K.A.R.R in this somewhat rushed battle of the titans where only one can survive.

K.I.T.T. faces his evil twin K.A.R.R in this somewhat rushed battle of the titans. Only one can survive.

The show’s format started out very non Knight Rider.  A large ensemble cast.  We will give you the Fortress one sentence synopsis for this format which was used for most of the season:  The partially government funded Knight Foundation’s futuristic super-car is sent out on shady political missions driven by an ex-military man with holes in his memory who has to adjust to working with his ex-girlfriend hottie and a smart-aleck car AI named K.I.T.T.

"Hi.  I'm the regular good looking girl/ex-girlfriend.  Aren't my eyes stunning?  -- Shhh.  They're contacts."

Deanna Russo as Sarah: "Hi. I'm the regular good looking girl/ex-girlfriend. Aren't my eyes stunning? -- Shhh. They're contacts. That's how I got this gig."

Around episode 12 the producers radically changed to format to something more like the original.  It was jarring and felt rushed as characters were killed off and written out.  While this new format is more character driven and welcome, it is also less action-packed.  Small stories can work, but the writers may not have had time to get totally up to speed.

"Hello, I'm here to add gravitas to the cast -- what?  I'm a holgram in this scene?  Dang it I HAVE been written out!"

Bruce Davison as Charles Graiman: "Hello, I'm here to add gravitas to the cast -- what? I'm a hologram in this scene? Dang it, I HAVE been written out!"

K.I.T.T. is flatly and boringly voiced by Val Kilmer (it is as if he is trying to do a robot voice!)  It lacks the fun, dry wit, and character of the original’s venerable William Daniels.  The cast lost some of its better actors in the format change.  The remaining ones are likable but need improvement.  They struck us as very 1990′s weekend syndication, if you know what we mean.

Kitt's voice is half sci-fi channel direct to DVD android, half HAL from 2001, and all lacklucter.

K.I.T.T.'s voice is half sci-fi channel direct to DVD android, half HAL from 2001, and all lackluster.

"Okay, I'm no Hasselhoff.  Come on, who coulf fill those shoes?  But I do have 'rugged good looks' and I grow on you."

Justin Bruening as Mike Traceur: "Okay, I'm no Hasselhoff. Come on, who could fill those shoes? But I do have 'rugged good looks' and I grow on you. Here I'm doing my "tough but wary" look."

There is some fun technology like hand manipulable displays built into K.I.T.T.’s hood.  Other tech like the entire car transforming into a pick-up truck, or K.I.T.T. manufacturing anything in his glove box stretch credulity too far.

Wait a minute, I recognize that voice.  Peter Cullen!  OMG!  K.A.R.R. is really... Optimus Prime!?

Wait a minute, I recognize that voice. Peter Cullen! OMG! K.A.R.R. is really... Optimus Prime!?

The new turbo boost is fun, but rarely used.  K.I.T.T. can EMP most cars, shutting them down immediately.  This sometimes undermines some of the vehicular action and you might say to yourself, “Couldn’t he just stall out the car those machine gun wielding thugs are using?”  The high number of terribly convenient or contrived plot elements are equaled by unfilled plot holes.

In one of the most stupidly unbelievable scenes, this giant gattling rises out of the center of the hood (hmm, not like there is anything important there).

In one of the most stupidly unbelievable scenes, this ginormous Gatling gun rises out of the center of the hood (hmm, not like there is anything important there) and was never seen again. Worse, it fired for about .75 seconds at which time K.I.T.T. proclaimed he had burned through his 10 zillion rounds of ammunition. Ah, ... no.

If you like the Knight Rider franchise you may sit through the entire season of 2008′s version as we did.  Despite the format changes, the ear bleeding music, the questionable acting and the boring K.I.T.T. voice it had its moments.  Really.  We encourage you to give it a shot, but we would only recommend season 1 to fans.

It is true.  K.A.R.R. was... a Transformer!

It is true. K.A.R.R. was... a Transformer!

BONUS PICTURE:  We did not want to leave you hanging regarding the epic showdown between Kitt and K.A.R.R.   Here is is a split second later.

BONUS PICTURE: We did not want to leave you hanging regarding the epic showdown between K.I.T.T. and K.A.R.R. Here it is a split second later.