Confession: I was not a huge fan of the original Knight Rider. Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it, was mostly indifferent to its gimmicky charms. So I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the updated version via last night’s NBC movie/backdoor pilot. Reasonably good FX, good chase ‘n’ crash action, solid-if-familiar sci-fi plotting, decent supporting players — Sydney Tamiia Poitier as a lesbian FBI agent (uh… okay) and the reliable Bruce Davison as the slightly crackpot inventor. I especially liked Val Kilmer as the voice of KITT; no disrespect to Will Arnett, who might have brought a hostile, ironic edge to the talking car, but Kilmer brought the kind of nonchalant cool he used to toss off effortlessly in such movies as True Romance and Tombstone. (Certainly an improvement over the snippy, nervous-Nellie voice of William Daniels in the original.)

Lone drawback was driver Justin Bruening (right), who seems like a yapping puppy next to David Hasselhoff (especially during the Hoff’s cameo, performed without a trace of irony, which turned out to be a good thing in context). Still, he and Deanna Russo (left, as Davison’s supposedly brilliant daughter) have good chemistry with each other — and with the car, to which both human leads definitely take a back seat.

What did you think? As good as, better than, or worse than the original? Were you annoyed or amused by the relentless product placement? Are you looking forward to further adventures with this whole KITT and kaboodle?

addCredit(“Knight Rider: Mitch Haddad”)