September 13, 2014

THE DUKES




THE DUKES
(CBS, February 5-October 29, 1983)

Hanna-Barbera Productions, Warner Bros. Television



MAIN CAST:
Byron Cherry – Coy Duke (season 1)
Christopher Mayer – Vance Duke (season 1)
Tom Wopat – Luke Duke (season 2)
John Schneider – Bo Duke (season 2)
Catherine Bach – Daisy Duke
Denver Pyle – Jesse Duke
James Best – Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane
Sorrell Booke – Boss Hogg
Frank Welker – Flash, Smokey, the General Lee



            Welcome to Hazzard County, where anything can happen. Hazzard is home to the Duke family: cousins Bo (John Schneider), Luke (Tom Wopat) and Daisy (Catherine Bach) who live with their uncle Jesse (Denver Pyle) on the Duke farm. Together, they fight the system--that system being the corrupt county commissioner Boss Jefferson Davis “J.D.” Hogg (Sorrell Booke), and his dimwitted brother-in-law Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (James Best).


The Dukes of Hazzard cast: Rick Hurst, Booke, Schneider, Pyle, Wopat, Bach, Ben Jones and
Best with Flash.




            In 1973, Gy Waldron, in collaboration with ex-moonshiner Jerry Rushing, developed the movie Moonrunners through United Artists. It was released in 1975 and attracted the attention of Warner Bros., who approached Waldron with turning the movie into a TV series. Toning down some of the crude elements of the film, and reusing a lot of the same character names, locations and actors, The Dukes of Hazzard was born in 1978. The premise of the show was that the Duke family made a deal to give up the family business of moonshining in exchange for probation after being caught by the revenuers. To supplement their income from their farm, Daisy worked as a waitress at the Boar’s Nest (the local bar owned by Hogg) and the Dukes participated in local races in the seemingly-indestructible 1969 Dodge Charger they restored and dubbed the General Lee. Often, they spent their time outwitting Boss in his illegal get-rich-quick schemes and outrunning Rosco, which would often lead to numerous car jumps and wrecks. Country singer Waylon Jennings was brought in to not only serve as the show’s balladeer (as he was in the movie) and theme song composer, but also served as an uncredited script consultant to add an air of authenticity to them. 


The General Lee racked up a lot of frequent flyer miles.

Initially scheduled as a mid-season replacement on CBS, only 9 episodes were originally ordered. Dukes filmed the first five episodes on locations around Georgia before breaking for Christmas. Warner Bros., impressed by what they saw, sought to develop the show into a full series and moved production to their lot in Burbank, Califonria, to simplify production as well as maintain a larger workshop to produce the cars needed to replace the ones destroyed after each stunt (and there were many, many cars between Generals and squad cars). Also, while not as raunchy as the movie that spawned it, the Georgia episodes had a fairly more adult-oriented tone to them. One episode even introduced Hazzard’s own mobile Madame (not seen since, incidentally). Given their timeslot and knowing families were tuning in, the cast, led by Best, lobbied for the show to become more family-friendly, and the final evolution of Dukes began towards a more comedy-oriented approach with softer villains.



            The show proved immensely popular, ranking second only to the nighttime soap opera Dallas which followed it. The show became so big that by the start of the fifth season, Schneider and Wopat entered into a contract dispute over their salaries and merchandising royalties they felt were owed them with the studio and walked off the show (Bach also felt this way, but she was convinced that her leaving as well would likely result in the show just being outright cancelled).. The studio, believing the real star of the show was the General Lee and the impossible stunts it did, recast their roles with lookalike actors. Bo and Luke were written out, said to be racing on the NASCAR circuit, and replacing them were cousins Coy (Byron Cherry) and Vance (Christopher Mayer) to help watch over things in Hazzard. 


"Thanks for coming. We got it from here. Don't let the door hit you on the way out."

The rest of the cast, Waldron, and fans did not take to the change well. Coy and Vance, rather than being made their own characters, were fundamentally carbon copies of Bo and Luke. Helping that perception was the fact that scripts had Bo and Luke’s names scratched out and their replacements penciled in. The ratings sank, forcing Warner Bros. to renegotiate with Wopat and Schneider. Ultimately, a deal was struck and they returned before the end of the season. Bo and Luke thanked Coy and Vance and the latter pair drove off, never to be seen, heard from, or mentioned again.



            But, before they left, Warner Bros. sought to further capitalize on the successful series with an entry on Saturday mornings. Partnering with Hanna-Barbera, they produced The Dukes. The series featured the Dukes (Coy, Vance and Daisy) in a race against Boss Hogg and Rosco, along with Rosco’s dog Flash (Frank Welker), around the world for prize money that the Dukes hoped to use to save the farm from Boss. Being an animated show, the General (Welker) was able to do a lot more in the form of stunts and gadgetry than possible on the parent show. Each episode was depicted in flashback as Uncle Jesse, still back in Hazzard, read about their adventures from letters to his pet raccoon Smokey (created for the show and also played by Welker). Bo and Luke had returned by the time the second season of the cartoon rolled around, and they replaced Coy and Vance here as well with a new series introduction. In a move unusual for spin-off cartoons, the actual cast from The Dukes of Hazzard supplied their own voices. The series was cancelled at the end of the season.


The Dukes character models for season 1 (top) and season 2.
 
            Despite the return of Bo and Luke, the TV show never reclaimed its former glory. Declining ratings and the use of model cars to increase the stunt levels and reduce the cost of replacement vehicles eventually took their toll and the series ended after its seventh season. The legacy of the show would live on, however. The cast reunited for two reunion movies and several video games. There have been annual conventions attended by members of the cast and many replicas of the cars, as well as Cooter’s Place, a museum and store in Tennessee dedicated to the Dukes run by Ben Jones (Cooter Davenport). In 2005, Warner Bros. attempted to relaunch the franchise with a feature film and potential series-launching television movie. Currently, they continue to license out merchandise, particularly of the General.  Not a bad run for some good ol’ boys.




EPISODE GUIDE:
Season 1:
“Put Up Your Dukes!” (2/5/83) – The Dukes race Boss Hogg and Rosco around the world, their first stop taking them to Australia to visit a Duke who is a boxer.

“Jungle Jitters” (2/12/83) – In South America, Boss steals the Dukes’ extra gas and volcano-worshiping natives try to sacrifice the General Lee.

“The Dukes in Venice” (2/19/83) – The Dukes recover the General Lee from robbers who used it to escape the law, but Boss uses the incident to frame the Dukes for the crime.

“Morocco Bound” (2/26/83) – A series of mix-ups allow Aladdin’s lamp to fall into Daisy’s hands, making her the target of the thief who originally stole it.

“The Secret Satellite” (3/5/83) – The racers head after a satellite that crashed in the Arctic Circle, the Dukes doing so for their country and Boss for the hefty reward.

“The Dukes of London” (3/12/83) – Flash is accidentally mixed up with the Queen’s dog, Regina, and the Dukes get arrested for kidnapping when they wind up with Regina.

“The Greece Fleece” (3/19/83) – Boss uses a man named Big Nick to frame the Dukes while plotting to marry his daughter in order to receive a lot of money.

“The Dukes in India” (3/26/83) – Boss teams up with the Grand Vazir to slow down the Dukes so Boss can win the race.

“The Dukes in Uzbekistan” (4/2/83) – The Dukes help an English archaeologist find her father who went missing looking for a diamond mine.

“A Hogg in Hong Kong” (4/9/83) – Pirates capture the racers, and it’s up to the Dukes to save everyone.

“The Dukes in Scotland” (4/16/83) – Billy Bob and June Stewart from Hazzard have inherited a haunted castle.

“The Dukes Do Paris” (4/23/83) – A man gives a rare stamp to Daisy, whom he believes is working for Boss, putting the Dukes in trouble with the law.

“The Dukes Do Switzerland” (4/30/83) – An inventor and his daughter seek to protect their gas formula from the Slavonia Secret Police, only to have it stolen by Boss and Rosco.

Season 2:
“Boss O’ Hogg and the Little People” (9/17/83) – Boss and Rosco steal gold from leprechauns and the Dukes have to save them from being thrown over the rainbow.

“The Tales of Vienna Hoods” (9/24/83) – Thieves kidnap the Dukes and Boss’ niece Cindy Sue for a million dollar ransom.

“The Kid from Madrid” (10/1/83) – When the General Lee is run off the road, Pepino and his race horse come to the Dukes’ aid.

“A Dickens of a Christmas” (10/8/83) – Boss attempts to break the rules and continue the race on Christmas, sending him into his own “A Christmas Carol.”

“The Canadian Caper” (10/15/83) – Boss buys illegal furs from the Bouchard Brothers, who capture animal-loving Suzzette that the Dukes must rescue.

“The Dukes in Hollywood” (10/22/83) – The Dukes are hired as stunt drivers by a crooked producer who tricks Boss into investing in the film so he’ll be blamed when the payroll is stolen.

“A Hogg in the Foggy Bog” (10/29/83) – Jesse finds a treasure map and joins his kin in the Philippines to race Boss and Rosco in finding the treasure.

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