'Knight Rider' Gets a Major Tuneup

"Knight Rider" is going into the shop for some serious work, shedding three of its cast members and moving closer to the template of the show's 1980s predecessor.

Three regulars -- Bruce Davison, Sydney Tamiia Poitier and Yancey Arias -- will depart the show after its initial 13-episode run (the show earned a full-season, 22-episode pickup last month). The show will also shift the focus of its stories; rather than Michael (Justin Bruening) and KITT protecting national security, they'll help ordinary people who are in a jam.

"We're moving away from the terrorist-of-the-week formula and closer to the original," executive producer Gary Scott Thompson tells The Hollywood Reporter. Thompson calls the changes a "reboot" and says he and his fellow writers are "making it a show about a man and his car going out and helping more regular people, everymen."

Viewers will see the changes start to take effect with a two-part story in episodes 10 and 11, the HR says. The first part will air after an NFL game in January in an effort to goose the show's ratings, with the conclusion airing in its regular Wednesday spot.

Davison, Arias and Poitier will be written out after 13 episodes, and "Knight Rider" will continue with a focus on Bruening's Michael, girlfriend/partner Sarah (Deanna Russo) and the bantering techies played by Smith Cho and Paul Campbell.

"Knight Rider" has scuffled in the ratings so far this season, averaging about 7 million viewers a week. The series hit a low last week, managing only 5.1 million viewers and a 1.6 rating in the adults 18-49 demographic.