“Just two good old boys, never meanin’ no harm…
Beats all you never saw, been in trouble with the law since the day they was born…”
Plenty of television series have taken their viewers into suburban homes and urban metropolises over the years. For audiences more akin to something with a little backwoods country charm, however, The Dukes of Hazzard was right up their alley. With its rural setting, colorful and attractive characters, and a really fast car, this long-running series based on the daily lives of a couple of former moonshiners put aside cerebral themes in favor of fuedin’ schemin’ and car-chasin’ fun.
Bo and Luke were two country cousins living in Hazzard County, Georgia. Formerly convicted of transporting moonshine across state lines, they were both on probation and living with their kinfolk that includes family patriarch Uncle Jesse and beautiful young cousin Daisy. Equipped with a modified ’69 Dodge Charger, the General Lee, the duo lived under the watchful eye of corrupt County Commissioner Boss Hogg, and his bumbling henchman, sheriff Rosco. P. Coltrane. Hogg, who never met a crooked scam he didn’t like, was obsessed with trying to find a way to frame the Dukes for any crime he could concoct to keep them from meddling in and disrupting his affairs. Luckily, Bo and Luke were much smarter than their adversaries and rarely fall for these inept attempts to bring the family down.
Almost immediately after it debuted in 1979, The Dukes of Hazzard won audiences with its lighthearted approach and rural charm, making it one of the most popular shows in the CBS Friday night lineup. When the fifth season rolled around, however, the two leading men, John Schneider and Tom Wopat, both walked off the set due to a contract dispute over their salaries and their desired chunk of the sizable merchandising rights associated with the show. Their characters were written off the show (Bo and Luke were supposedly out of town, competing on the NASCAR circuit,) and promptly replaced with Coy and Vance Luke. Audiences would have none of it, and the ratings quickly began to plummet. Before the fifth season would conclude, producers wisely renegotiated with the former stars and “them Duke boys” were back in the front seat of the General Lee.
All in all, The Dukes of Hazzard enjoyed a respectable seven-season run before going off the air in 1985. During its heyday, the show spawned a spin-off series, Enos, based on deputy sheriff Enos Strate, and an animated Saturday morning series, The Dukes. After leaving the airwaves, the cast returned for two made-for-television specials – The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion! in 1997, and The Dukes of Hazzard: Hazzard in Hollywood! in 2000. And, in 2005, the popular feature-length film, The Dukes of Hazzard was released in theaters, featuring Willie Nelson as Uncle Jesse and Burt Reynolds in the role of Boss Hogg. The film featured all of the car-chasing good ol’ boy fun of the original series and was a box-office success.
Do you harbor fond memories of curling up to the TV on Friday nights to watch The Dukes of Hazzard? If so, we’d love to hear your memories of the popular series in our comments section.