STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $39.98 RATED: NR
• A special welcome: season introduction by Tom Wopat, John Schneider, and Catherine Bach
• DukesVision on-camera commentary on episode 4 "And in This Corner, Luke Duke" by cast members
• Bo, Luke & Daisy: Just Good Ole Friends: the stars reminisce
• Dukes Family Tree with series creator Gy Waldron

I’ve reviewed several box sets of old TV shows that I enjoyed for CHUD and it’s both fun and disquieting. Fun in that you get to see shows that helped define your childhood and have stuck with you for twenty years or more. Disquieting in the fact that it has in fact been twenty years or more. Some shows tend to stick with you more than others and a very few are it as far as you’re concerned: the coolest shows from your childhood. For me, The Dukes of Hazzard was it, man. One of the top five shows that I absolutely had to see every week. I had to see Bo and Luke get out of whatever hair-brained scheme ole Boss Hogg and Rosco cooked up for them. Had to see Cooter remind us that he was crazy but he wasn’t dumb. Had to see the General Lee jump the freakin’ planet. And dude, I had to see Daisy. Sweet pickled Ted Williams I had to see Daisy…

Available in ’06, the new Dodge Charger lowrider.

The Show

Unless you’ve been at Gitmo, underground, or in Terre Haute, IN for the last year or so, you probably know that a film version of The Dukes of Hazzard is coming out. You got your young stars Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott and the hottest nimrod in the world, Jessica Simpson as three cousins running around in a souped-up ’69 Charger having a good old time while trying to stay out of trouble with the corrupt local law. Devin has given his initial take on the whole shebang here. Me? I reserve judgment until I see the thing. As for the show that started the whole thing, well, the me from twenty years ago would have pretty much called Mr. Faraci a doody-head for even suggesting that Dukes was stupid. And I would have killed a busload of nuns if they tried to stop me from watching it. The me of today might have to (gulp!) agree with ole’ DF…at least partially.

Caption A: "Remember, you promised to get me Tom Welling’s number if I did this for you…"
Caption B: "You got a screwed up idea of Southern Comfort…"

Although this isn’t a DVD Rack review, here’s the quickie nutshell for you. Dukes was about a good-hearted Southern family in the small Georgia county of Hazzard that had a penchant for getting both into and out of trouble, mostly because the local authorities had it in for them. There were two hunky cousins: Luke (Tom Wopat), the smart one and Bo (Smallville’s John Schneider), the headstrong one. There was also their drop dead gorgeous cousin with a penchant for wearing tight short shorts that would eventually be nicknamed for her, Daisy (Catherine Bach). The family patriarch was their Uncle Jesse (Denver Pyle), who spouted country wisdom like a down home Yoda. Together Bo and Luke would tear across Hazzard every week in the General Lee, the most famous piece of orange MOPAR in history.

The concept of the drive-by was a little different in Hazzard

The Dukes’ nemeses every week were Boss J.D. Hogg (Sorrell Booke), the rich and fat county commissioner who loved food just as much as he loved lying and cheating his way to money. Then there was Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane, the bumbling sidekick who was too dumb to realize that Boss was usually scamming him on his hair-brained moneymaking schemes every week. When they weren’t trying to frame the Dukes for some trumped up crime to get them out of their hair, they were chasing the Dukes because they thought they were responsible for some other crime. Rounding out the cast were honest virgin and eternal Daisy admirer, Deputy Enos Strate and local mechanic Cooter.

"Hey Bo, how fast do you figure that footage behind us id going?"
"Oh, ’bout 60…65…"

The Dukes found themselves in a fairly wide array of situations over the course of their seven-season run, but generally you could count on one or more of the following happening during a typical episode (in no particular order):

• Boss Hogg had some crazy and crooked scheme to make himself a load of bread – usually by conning someone or stealing something. The Dukes would then invariably get involved and/or blamed for the scheme and have to figure a way out of it.

• The General Lee would perform an insane feat of jumping that would demolish a Sherman tank yet leave the Charger untouched.

"Hey pretty boy! Get your ass back in here and jump me! Jump me hard! Jump me now you country piece of shit!!"

• Daisy, Luke or Bo would fall in love for one episode yet have something stand in the way and that person would never be mentioned again afterwards.

• Rosco, Enos and Cletus would destroy more cop cars than the Blues Brothers.

• The Dukes would get reward money for turning in a criminal or winning a prize and promptly give it all to the orphanage, despite barely having enough the keep the cars running or making the farm’s mortgage every month.

• Boss Hogg would be eating the show’s entire craft service budget for a snack. A giant bowl of spaghetti, a plate of turkey legs, barbecue ribs, liver, pizza, etc.

• The terms “little fat buddy,” “Shepherd, to Lost Sheep,” “orange clunker car,” “Are you kiddin’ me,” and “50% of 50%” would be heard regularly.

• Jesse would bitch about the General Lee’s welded doors.

• There’s a Duke screaming “yea-hoo.”

"Holy shit, that Daisy Duke screws like a Makita!"

Despite being an instant hit and a frequent top 10 show during its run, and even years afterward, Dukes never got a lot of love from TV and internet critics. They’ve said things like the show stereotyped Southern culture, the writing was a joke, the characters were so thin you could see through them, and the real star of the show was a car. For the most part I can’t disagree. By the end of the show’s run, the plots were beyond laughable, and the Dukes were pretty much on autopilot in terms of characterization. There was a Season 7 episode, “Strange Visitor to Hazzard,” where the Dukes had to keep Boss Hogg from exploiting a cute alien who’s shown up in Hazzard. And also a Season 7 episode, “Robot P. Coltrane,” where Boss replaces Rosco as sheriff with a robot.

However, in Season 3, the show was still fresh enough that the Dukes weren’t completely paper thin caricatures and some of the plots weren’t completely horrible. This is best shown in the two-part season premiere, “Carnival of Thrills,” where Bo falls for Diane, a carnival owner, and agrees to make a 32-car jump that three men have failed at before. The decision causes a rift between him and Luke and leads to them actually fighting and Bo’s leaving of the family. Meanwhile, Boss Hogg is looking to foreclose on the carnival if Bo doesn’t make the jump (okay that part was pretty dumb). It’s then up to Luke and the others to find out more about the previous attempts at the jump and why they failed and also Diane’s true intentions toward Bo. Bo then decides to make the jump after all the cards have been laid on the table. The result was one of the more spectacular car jumps in the show’s history. Admittedly, it’s not Shakespeare, but the show was one of the better episodes.

It’s a good thing that Wopat got hired onto the show when he did because his career in Golden Shower fetish porn wasn’t going so hot…

Other memorable episodes in the season include, “And in This Corner, Luke Duke,” where Luke has to fight in a boxing match in order to keep Boss from foreclosing on the farm after Luke breaks an expensive mirror in a bar fight. In “Duke vs. Duke,” Bo and Luke are again at odds when they get suckered into entering a Hazzard road race where all losers forfeit their cars. When Cooter also enters a souped-up car of his own, Luke has to drive it for him after Cooter breaks his ankle. And in two episodes, “Uncle Boss” and “The Return of Hughie Hogg,” Boss brings in his underhanded nephew, Hughie to try to rid himself of the Dukes. Season 3 was when the show was in its prime, so much so that they had a short lived spin-off, Enos.

Those bleedin’ heart liberals sometimes went to extremes just to get rid of those Confederate Flag license plates…

Generally, there’s little middle ground on The Dukes of Hazzard. You either liked it or you hated it. You either grew up with the show and enjoyed it or you didn’t. You’re either forgiving of the show’s obvious faults or you’re not. Me? I’m the former in each situation. I grew up on this show. I had many of the toys, the coloring books, watched
The Dukes cartoon, drew my own comic book in the third grade, everything. Dukes was the meat in my Friday night sandwich of The Incredible Hulk and Dallas. God help me I even stayed with the show during the Coy and Vance Duke days. That’s definitely another rant best saved for the Season 5 review. Now that I’m all growed up, I can see the show’s faults clear as day and The Dukes of Hazzard isn’t really it for me anymore, but it’s still got a lot of down home charm.

7.1 out of 10

The Look

The quality of the transfers is pretty good for the most part, with the occasional attack of the stock footage. One thing that no one can dispute is that Dukes had a first-rate second unit and there’s plenty of good stunt work to be seen in this set. You can be sure that anytime the General is seen flying, the stunt car that they used was destroyed. There’s a perverse pleasure in that. Of course the score in this department shoots up anytime Catherine Bach was on the screen in Daisy Dukes.

7.6 out of 10

"Dang, Coy and Vance is heavier’n we thought…"

The Noise

The General’s “Dixie” horn and the yea-hoos come through just fine.

7.3 out of 10

The Goodies

A Special Welcome: Season introduction by Tom Wopat, John Schneider, and Catherine Bach – this was unscripted and only lasted a minute, but it seemed like five.

DukesVision on-camera commentary on episode 4 "And in This Corner, Luke Duke" by cast members – nothing fancy, one camera on the Dukes, one on the show.

Bo, Luke & Daisy: Just Good Ole Friends: The stars reminisce – Christ almighty this was torture to get through. 22 minutes of unscripted, unrehearsed, unbearable riffing by the three main stars. I liked the show as much as the next guy, and I actually think it’s kinda cool that the stars have remained friends this long after the show’s end, but come on! These are actors, not talk show hosts and they should stick with doing that.

"Nope, this script still sucks…"

Dukes Family Tree with series creator Gy Waldron – quite a good feature with Waldron giving the lowdown as to how the show was cast. Interesting factoids from this feature: Sonny Shroyer was not only the first actor cast, but Waldron had told his casting guy to put Shroyer in the part, but he forgot and cast Shroyer anyway when he read. Also, the General Lee was almost named after General Lee’s horse instead of the general himself, and the car was also almost a Trans Am. The ’69 Charger was also picked by the transportation guy to be the car used. There’s also an early Tom Wopat/John Schneider screen test.

5.5 out of 10

The Artwork

Funnily enough, the makers of these Dukes DVD sets seem to be hitting the mark on the odd seasons and missing it on the even seasons. I really dig the covers for Seasons 1 and 3, which feature the three young stars in their heyday in what seem to be semi-casual publicity shots. But Season 2 wasn’t that great and the upcoming Season 4 is horrendous. There’s a nice cast photo on the inside back cover taken during Episode 5, “And in This Corner, Luke Duke.” This cover is the best of all so far though, simple but inviting.

8.6 out of 10

Overall: 7.4 out of 10