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Dukes of Hazzard

By Tom Keogh

The Dukes of Hazzard was part of America's redneck fetish in the mid-to-late 1970s, otherwise evident in popular songs, movies, and television shows highlighting fast cars, truckers, citizens' band radio, moonshine, irreverent hicks, and clueless lawmen. Created by writer-producer Gy Waldron and inspired by his own 1975 bootlegging comedy, Moonrunners, Dukes milked seven seasons of material from the tale of a Deep South family of reformed whiskey-makers and their running feud with a greedy impresario and his chief lackey, a buffoonish, venal sheriff. At the center of the action is Sheriff Coltrane's nemeses, cousins Bo Duke (John Schneider) and Luke Duke (Tom Wopat), a couple of wild boys buzzing through the backwoods in the "General Lee," a souped-up Dodge Charger. Bo and Luke are good at heart but have to behave themselves while on indefinite probation, complicating but not halting their efforts to vex Roscoe and his patron, diminutive bigwig Boss Hogg (Sorrell Booke). The enmity runs both ways: Roscoe and Boss Hogg, with the aid of witless Deputy Enos Strate (Sonny Shroyer), dream up ways of eliminating the Dukes--including their wise old Uncle Jesse (Denver Pyle)--but their efforts always backfire.

While every episode is a variation on the previous one, predictability is a virtue. The series pilot, "One Armed Bandits," finds Luke and Bo, with help from their sexy cousin, Daisy (Catherine Bach), diverting slot machines (smuggled into Hazzard County by Roscoe and Boss Hogg) to sundry watering holes where they can raise money for Bo's girlfriend's charity. In "Money to Burn," Boss Hogg tries to frame Bo and Luke for robbing an armored truck, while in "Deputy Dukes," the unarmed guys are forced by Roscoe to escort a deadly prisoner from one town to another. The Dukes hit back in "Daisy's Song," investigating a scam that took Daisy for $50 and implicates, of course, Boss Hogg and Roscoe.

By season 2, the show, originally shot on location in Covington, Georgia, was permanently produced on a backlot in Burbank, California. While a couple of cast members (Ben Jones, who plays mechanic Cooter Davenport, and James Best, who portrays Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane) briefly boycotted the series in its second year, the actors relaxed into their now thoroughly cartoonish characters. Highlights include a funny fan favorite called "The Ghost of General Lee" (also co-star Schneider's favorite episode), in which Bo and Luke are assumed to have drowned when their stolen car ends up at the bottom of a pond. NASCAR legend Cale Yarborough makes an appealing guest in a story about the development of a secret turbo charger and Hogg's effort to steal it, while Loretta Lynn turns up as herself in a damsel-in-distress tale, featuring the country superstar as a kidnapped hostage. "Witness for the Persecution" introduces a recurring theme on Dukes: Occasions in which the vile Hogg must be protected from his enemies by hiding out with (gasp) the Dukes. The best of the season, however, may be "Days of Shine and Roses," in which Hogg and Uncle Jesse, after watching a film of their old moonshine-delivery exploits with the Ridge Runners Association, get into an argument about who was best and decide to resolve the question with a grudge race.

The predictability of the show in its third year by no means makes the series anything less than shameless, tongue-in-cheek fun. Booke's cartoonish villain remains an outlandish self-caricature, chortling over every (doomed) opportunity to nail the Dukes and/or take Uncle Jesse's farm through a crooked boxing match ("And in This Corner, Luke Duke"), a bank robbery set up (by Hogg) to appear that Bo and Luke pulled off the crime during the wedding of Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (James Best, in "Mrs. Rosco P. Coltrane"), and even by pretending to be amnesia victim Bo's father ("My Son, Bo Hogg").

Fourth-season highlights include "Mrs. Daisy Hogg," with guest star Jonathan Frakes--destined to play Commander William T. Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation--as a counterfeiter who falls for, and thus endangers, poor Daisy. "Double Dukes" finds Boss Hogg hiring two thugs to disguise themselves as Bo and Luke, but the real fun with this episode is a recent commentary track with Wopat, Schneider, and Bach kidding around and reminiscing like naughty siblings. "Diamonds in the Rough" concerns out-of-town gangsters searching for stolen diamonds stuffed in a Bugs Bunny toy that made its way from the Dukes' hands to Boss Hogg's Cadillac to Roscoe's hound. "Ten Million Dollar Sheriff" is a two-parter in which Roscoe inherits a load of money, and--for a time--becomes a kingpin even more dangerous than Boss Hogg. Comedian Jeff Altman makes a comeback as master-of-disguise villain Hughie Hogg, who implements grand plans to eliminate the Dukes and salt-of-the-earth tow truck driver Cooter Davenport (Ben Jones). Sprinkled throughout the season are musical performances by Buck Owens, Mickey Gilley, and other country artists.

All four seasons of The Dukes of Hazzard are now on DVD! Season 1, Season 2, Season 3, and Season 4. You can also buy all four seasons in a 20 disc set!

 

Share Your Memories In Our Forums!

Check out our Dukes of Hazzard forum! Do you have a favorite episode of the show? What do you remember about the series? Do you have any questions about it or its stars? Now you can post comments and questions directly to our TV forums! Click here to see what other Dukes of Hazzard viewers have said or to post your own comments about the show!

Your Memories Shared!

I liked this show so much, at the time, that I even bought a 68' Charger as my first "real" car (in 1980 or 81). There's was a 69' I believe. I installed a Dixie horn (w/5 airhorns you could hear a mile away). Daisy was smokin, the action was hot and mischievous. I really liked the stunts (common for that era) the balance that was maintained between "cat and mouse" and cohesiveness of the characters ("cops and robbers" games they played). Some people look back at the show as "politically incorrect," because of the rebel flag, etc. I say, lighten up - and focus on a real issue. They were "the good ol' boys." This was the era when actors made a crack at singing, looked good, etc (you got the whole package). Girls oogled over the guys, guys were smitten over daisy - and admired the guys and their cool care. Still think about that car - even though mine was rought with problems. It was "badass"!!!

--Anonymous

Note: This is just a random sample of the Dukes of Hazzard messages in our TV forums! Click here to see what others have said or to post your own comments!

 

TV TIDBITS

Aired: January 26, 1979 - August 16, 1985

Cast: Tom Wopat (Luke Duke), John Schneider (Bo Duke), Catherine Bach (Daisy Duke), Denver Pyle (Uncle Jesse), James Best (Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane), Sorrell Booke (Boss Hogg)

Network: CBS

Genre: Adventure

Theme songGood Ol' Boys - Waylon Jennings

Image courtesy of CBS


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John Schneider (Bo Duke) Videos and DVDs!

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