The Dukes of Hazzard

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The Dukes of Hazzard
Dukes of Hazzard.jpg
Title card
Genre Action
Adventure
Family
Comedy-drama
Created by Gy Waldron and Jerry Rushing
Starring
Narrated by Waylon Jennings
Opening theme"Good Ol' Boys" performed by Waylon Jennings
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons7
No. of episodes147 (list of episodes)
Production
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time45–49 minutes
Production companies
  • Paul R. Picard Productions and Piggy Productions, Inc. (season 1)
  • Lou Step Productions (seasons 2–7)
  • Warner Bros. Television
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Release
Original network CBS
Picture formatColor
Audio formatMono
Original releaseJanuary 26, 1979 (1979-01-26) 
February 8, 1985 (1985-02-08)
Chronology
Followed by
Related shows
External links
Website

The Dukes of Hazzard is an American action-comedy television series that was aired on CBS from January 26, 1979, to February 8, 1985. The show aired for 147 episodes spanning seven seasons. It was consistently among the top-rated television series in the late 1970s (at one point, ranking second only to Dallas , which immediately followed the show on CBS's Friday night schedule). The show is about two young male cousins, Bo and Luke Duke, who live in rural Georgia and are on probation for moonshine-running. The young men and their friends and their female cousin Daisy Duke, and other family (such as patriarch Uncle Jesse), have various escapades as they evade the corrupt law officers Boss Hogg and Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane. The young men drive a customized 1969 Dodge Charger nicknamed (The) General Lee , which became a symbol of the show.

Contents

The series was inspired by the 1975 film Moonrunners , about a bootlegger family which was also created by Gy Waldron and had many identical or similar character names and concepts. The show was the basis for a film of the same title in 2005.

Plot overview

The Dukes of Hazzard follows the adventures of "the Duke boys", cousins Bo Duke (John Schneider) and Luke Duke (Tom Wopat) (including Coy and Vance Duke for most of season 5), who live on a family farm in fictional Hazzard County, Georgia (the exact location of which was never specified, though Atlanta was mentioned several times as the nearest big city), with their female cousin Daisy (Catherine Bach) and their wise old Uncle Jesse (Denver Pyle). The Duke boys race around in their customized 1969 Dodge Charger stock car, dubbed (The) General Lee , evading crooked and corrupt county commissioner Boss Hogg (Sorrell Booke) and his bumbling and corrupt Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (James Best) along with his deputy(s), and always managing to get caught in the middle of various local escapades and incidents.

Bo and Luke were previously sentenced to probation for illegal transportation of moonshine; their Uncle Jesse made a plea bargain with the U.S. Government to refrain from distilling moonshine in exchange for Bo and Luke's freedom. As a result, Bo and Luke are on five years' probation and not allowed to carry firearms—instead, they often use compound bows, sometimes with arrows tipped with dynamite—or to leave Hazzard County unless they get probation permission from their probation officer, Boss Hogg. The exact details of their probation terms vary from episode to episode. Sometimes it is implied that they would be jailed for merely crossing the county line; on other occasions, it is shown that they may leave Hazzard, as long as they are back within a certain time limit. Several other technicalities of their probation also come into play at various times.

Corrupt county commissioner Jefferson Davis (J. D.) "Boss" Hogg either runs, or has his fingers in, virtually everything in Hazzard County. Hogg is forever angry with the Dukes, especially Bo and Luke due to their habit of foiling his crooked schemes. Many episodes revolve around Hogg's attempts to engage in some such scheme, sometimes with aid of hired criminal help.

Some of these are get-rich-quick schemes, though many others affect the financial security of the Duke farm, which Hogg has long wanted to acquire for various reasons. Other times, Hogg hires criminals from out of town to do his dirty work for him, and he often tries to frame Bo and Luke as part of these plots. Bo and Luke always seem to stumble over Hogg's latest scheme, sometimes by curiosity, and often by sheer luck, and put it out of business. Despite the Dukes often coming to his rescue (see below), Hogg never loses his irrational dislike of the clan, particularly Bo and Luke, often accusing them of spying on him, robbing or planning to rob him, and other nefarious actions.

The role of Boss Hogg was played by Sorrell Booke, who performed frequently on radio, stage, and film prior to his role in The Dukes of Hazzard. Boss Hogg is one of only two characters to appear in every episode of the TV series, the other being Uncle Jesse Duke.

The other main characters of the show include local mechanic Cooter Davenport (Ben Jones), who in early episodes was portrayed as a wild, unshaven rebel, often breaking or treading on the edge of the law, before settling down to become the Duke family's best friend (he is often referred to as an "honorary Duke") and owning the local garage. Enos Strate (Sonny Shroyer) is an honest but naive young deputy who, despite his friendship with the Dukes (and his crush on Daisy), is reluctantly forced to take part in Hogg and Rosco's crooked schemes. In the third and fourth seasons, when Shroyer left for his own show, his character was replaced by Deputy Cletus Hogg (Rick Hurst), Boss's cousin, who is slightly more wily than Enos but still a somewhat reluctant player in Hogg's plots.

Owing to their fundamentally good natures, the Dukes often wind up helping Boss Hogg out of trouble, albeit grudgingly. More than once Hogg is targeted by former associates who are either seeking revenge or have double crossed him after a scheme has unraveled in one way or another. Sheriff Coltrane also finds himself targeted in some instances. On such occasions, Bo and Luke usually have to rescue their adversaries as an inevitable precursor to defeating the bad guys; in other instances, the Dukes join forces with Hogg and Coltrane to tackle bigger threats to Hazzard or one of their respective parties. These instances became more frequent as the show progressed, and later seasons saw a number of stories where the Dukes and Hogg (and Coltrane) temporarily work together.

Production

The series was developed from the 1975 film Moonrunners . Created by Gy Waldron in collaboration with ex-moonshiner Jerry Rushing, this movie shares many identical and very similar names and concepts with the subsequent TV series. Although itself essentially a comedy, this original movie was much cruder and edgier than the family-friendly TV series that evolved from it.

In 1977, Waldron was approached by Warner Bros. with the idea of developing Moonrunners into a television series. Waldron reworked various elements from Moonrunners, ultimately devising what became The Dukes of Hazzard. Production began in October 1978 with the original intention of only nine episodes for a mid-season filler. The first five episodes were filmed in Covington and Conyers, Georgia and surrounding areas, including some location work in nearby Atlanta. After completing production on the fifth episode, "High Octane", the cast and crew broke for Christmas break, expecting to return in several weeks' time to complete the ordered run of episodes. In the meantime, executives at Warner Bros. were impressed by the rough preview cuts of the completed episodes and saw potential in developing the show into a full-running series. Part of this plan was to move production from Georgia to the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California, to simplify production as well as develop a larger workshop to service the large number of automobiles needed for the series.

Rushing appeared as shady used car dealer Ace Parker in the third episode, "Repo Men" (the fourth to be broadcast). Rushing believed this to be the start of a recurring role, in return for which he would supply creative ideas from his experiences: many of the Dukes (and thus Moonrunners) characters and situations were derived from Rushing's experiences as a youth, and much of the character of Bo Duke, he states to be based on him. However, "Repo Men" would turn out to be the character's only appearance in the entire show's run, leading to a legal dispute in the following years over the rights to characters and concepts. Despite this, Rushing remained on good terms with cast and crew and in recent years has made appearances at several fan conventions.

By the end of the first (half) season, the family-friendly tone of The Dukes of Hazzard was mostly in place. When the show returned for a second season in fall 1979 (its first full season), with a few further minor tweaks, it quickly found its footing as a family-friendly comedy-adventure series. By the third season, starting in fall 1980, the template which would be widely associated with the show was evident.

As well as car chases, jumps and stunts, The Dukes of Hazzard relied on character familiarity, with each character effectively serving the same role within a typical episode. Deputy Cletus replaced Deputy Enos in Seasons 3 and 4, and Coy and Vance Duke temporarily replaced Bo and Luke (due to a salary dispute) for most of Season 5, but these were the only major cast changes through the show's run. Only Uncle Jesse and Boss Hogg appeared in all 145 episodes; Daisy appears in all but one, the third season's "To Catch a Duke." The General Lee also appears in all except "Mary Kaye's Baby", and the rest of Deputy Dukes.

The show was largely filmed in Hidden Valley in Thousand Oaks, California, with scenes also shot at nearby Lake Sherwood and also at Paramount Ranch in nearby Agoura Hills. [1]

Episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
1 13January 26, 1979May 11, 1979
2 23September 21, 1979April 20, 1980
3 23November 5, 1980April 10, 1981
4 27October 9, 1981April 2, 1982
5 22September 24, 1982March 18, 1983
6 22September 23, 1983March 30, 1984
7 17September 21, 1984February 8, 1985

The show ran for seven seasons and a total of 147 episodes. Many of the episodes followed a similar structure "out-of-town crooks pull a robbery or commit a crime or scandal, Duke boys blamed, spend the rest of the hour clearing their names, the General Lee flies and the squad cars crash". [2]

Cast and characters

Cast of The Dukes of Hazzard (from left): (bottom) John Schneider, Tom Wopat, Catherine Bach, Denver Pyle, Peggy Rea; (top) Ben Jones, Sorrell Booke, James Best, Sonny Shroyer Dukes of hazzard cast photo.jpg
Cast of The Dukes of Hazzard (from left): (bottom) John Schneider, Tom Wopat, Catherine Bach, Denver Pyle, Peggy Rea; (top) Ben Jones, Sorrell Booke, James Best, Sonny Shroyer
CharacterPortrayed bySeason Reunion! Hazzard in Hollywood
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Luke Duke Tom Wopat Main Recurring Main
Bo Duke John Schneider Main Recurring Main
Daisy Duke Catherine Bach Main
Jesse Duke Denver Pyle Main
Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane James Best Main
Boss Hogg Sorrell Booke Main
Cooter Davenport Ben Jones Main
Deputy Enos Strate Sonny Shroyer Main Recurring Main
The Balladeer Waylon Jennings Main
Deputy Cletus Hogg Rick Hurst Recurring Main Guest Main
Coy Duke Byron Cherry Main
Vance Duke Christopher Mayer Main

Main characters

The pilot episode was to include a barber modeled after Floyd Lawson on The Andy Griffith Show as a regular character, but was eliminated when the final draft of the pilot's script was written and before the show was cast.

When John Schneider auditioned for the role of Bo Duke, he came to the audition in a dilapidated pickup truck, sporting a week-long beard growth, wearing overalls and a white T-shirt with a pack of cigarettes rolled up in a sleeve collar, and carrying a can of beer, trying to look the part. At the audition, Schneider drank the beer and said he was from Snellville. The producers bought his "good ol' boy" act and Schneider was hired on the spot.

Recurring characters

CharacterActor
Info
Lulu Coltrane Hogg Peggy Rea
Boss Hogg's wife, Hughie Hogg's aunt, and Rosco's sister. Lulu constantly challenged her husband for authority and rallied for the equality of women in Hazzard, and was one of the few people in Hazzard whom Boss was actually intimidated by, though he genuinely loved and cared for her. Although much mentioned, Lulu only appeared once during the first season (in the episode "Repo Men") and once during the second season ("The Rustlers"), before her appearances gradually increased over the third season. By the fourth season, she was a frequently-seen recurring character. Initially in her single first- and second-season appearances, she was portrayed to be rather spoiled and selfish; as her appearances increased, the character evolved into being more caring and kind—often in contrast to Boss, and which on occasion proved to be his downfall or his Achilles' heel. Although Boss is a nemesis to the Dukes, Lulu is best friends with Daisy.
Myrtle / Mabel Tillingham Lindsay Bloom
Mabel is Hogg's cousin who runs the Hazzard Phone Company, who often sneak-listens to calls and lets Hogg know what is going on. Her name mysteriously changed from Myrtle to Mabel midway through the second season.
Longstreet B. Davenport Ernie Lively (credited as Ernie W. Brown)
L.B. was Cooter's cousin who filled for Cooter when he was away from the garage in several second-season episodes (in reality, this was to cover for Ben Jones's absence, after a disagreement with producers as to whether Cooter should have a beard or not). L.B. appeared in the episodes "Follow that Still", "Duke of Duke" "The Runaway", before Jones returned to the series; the episode "Grannie Annie" also features another temporary Cooter replacement, Mickey Jones as B.B. Davenport. Ernie Lively also played a different character named "Dobro Doolan", a friend of Bo and Luke, in the first episode of the series, "One Armed Bandits" (where he was credited as Ernie Brown), and as a guard called Clyde in the later sixth-season episode "The Ransom of Hazzard County". With Cooter's temporary absence, it was never fully explained why one of his relations was suddenly running the garage in his place; and in a similar vein to Coy and Vance in the fifth season, both of these cousins of Cooter were very much clones of the original character, and were never mentioned before or after their temporary spells replacing the original character.
Hughie Hogg Jeff Altman
A play-on-words of the popular military helicopter. Boss Hogg's young nephew, said to be as crooked as—maybe even more crooked than—Hogg. Dressed in an all-white suit just like his Uncle Boss, Hughie drove or was chauffeured around in a white VW Beetle with bull horns on the hood, similar to Boss Hogg's Cadillac. Typically, Boss Hogg would call in Hughie once per season to come up with a particularly dastardly scheme to get rid of the Dukes. Hughie's seemingly flawless plots would always end up in disaster, and Boss Hogg would end up throwing him out of Hazzard at the end of the episode. Despite this, Hogg would always give Hughie "one last chance" on his next appearance. On some later appearances, Hughie would worm his way back into Hazzard by coming up with a scheme and then persuading Hogg to go along with it, often by bribery. The character of Hughie was first introduced in the episode "Uncle Boss", produced as the second episode of the second season but not broadcast until the third season (for unknown reasons, and just several episodes prior to "The Return of Hughie Hogg"). By that time, Hughie had already been seen as Temporary Sheriff in the second-season episode "Arrest Jesse Duke" in which he appeared in a secondary role, written in at the last minute to cover Sheriff Rosco's absence during James Best's temporary boycott of the show. He acted somewhat out of character of his usual conniving self in the episode, due to being given most of Rosco's lines. Like the two Hazzard County deputies, Hughie has eyes for Daisy Duke, but his feelings are merely of a selfish, lustful nature; Daisy despises Hughie, and thus the only reason that she will ever appear to return Hughie's interest is merely to charm him into relaxing his guard or lure him away from a certain area until the other townspeople can prepare to act against him, thus preventing him from subjecting Hazzard County to additional corruption.
Wayne / NorrisRoger Torrey
One of Hughie's loyal duo of henchmen. Played by the same actor, but with different names on different occasions.
Floyd / Barclay Pat Studstill
The other of Hughie's duo of henchmen. He and Norris were both bigger than Bo and Luke, but nonetheless struggled in fights against them. Again played by the same actor, but with different names on different occasions.
Emery PotterCharlie Dell
Emery Potter is the part-time Hazzard County registrar and chief teller of the Hazzard Bank. Emery is a meek, soft-spoken man with a low tolerance for anything exciting. He is a friend of the Dukes, and sometimes falls under Hogg's crooked schemes simply because he is too timid to stand up for himself. First seen in the second-season episode "People's Choice", the character made several return appearances across the seasons. He has also served as Temporary Deputy on occasion.
Dr. Henry "Doc" Petticord Patrick Cranshaw
Hazzard County's ancient, long-serving physician.
Miz (Emma) Tisdale Nedra Volz
The postmistress of the Hazzard Post Office, Miz Tisdale ("Emma" to Jesse Duke) was an elderly woman who drove a motorcycle and had a huge crush on Uncle Jesse because they knew each other long ago. She was also a reporter for the Hazzard Gazette.
Sheriff Edward Thomas "Big Ed" Little Don Pedro Colley
The hulking sheriff of neighboring Chickasaw County, who drove a 1975 Plymouth Fury patrol car, and the only recurring character in the series played by a black actor. Sheriff Little had an angry tendency to punch and kick fenders and doors off cars that he wrecked. He was also not afraid to pull out his trusty 12-gauge shotgun and open fire. He is also a left-handed police officer. The ill-tempered sheriff hated Bo, Luke, Daisy, Coy, Vance, Uncle Jesse, and Cooter immensely and they were well aware that Bo and Luke were not allowed to enter his county. Sheriff Little was constantly irritated by the bumbling performance of Sheriff Coltrane and the crookedness of Hogg, although he thought highly of deputy Enos; Little was strict, by-the-book, and a competent law officer, everything that Sheriff Rosco was not (although he too had little luck in capturing Bo and Luke). He had a wife named Rachel and also a daughter. Before Sheriff Little was introduced, in the third-season episode "My Son, Bo Hogg", several first- and second-season episodes saw several similar tough-as-nails Sheriffs from adjoining counties.
Mr. RhuebottomJohn Wheeler
A local store owner, seen occasionally from the fourth-season episode "Pin the Tail on the Dukes" onwards (the Rhuebottom General Store shopfront is seen as early as the first-season episode "Luke's Love Story").
Dr. "Doc" ApplebyElmore Vincent, later Parley Baer
Elderly successor to Doc Petticord. Played by Elmore Vincent on the character's first appearance, in the fourth-season episode "Dear Diary", before Parley Baer took over the role in subsequent appearances.
Elton LogginsRitchie Montgomery
A disc jockey on the local WHOGG radio station, seen in the sixth-season episode "Enos's Last Chance" and the late seventh-season episode "Strange Visitor To Hazzard", and referred to, along with the radio station, in several other episodes. Other than actor M. C. Gainey (who played Sheriff Rosco in the 2005 movie version and had previously played a villain in the fourth-season episode "Bad Day in Hazzard"), Ritchie Montgomery is the only actor to appear in both episode(s) of the TV series and the 2005 movie (where he plays the small role of a State Trooper). Montgomery mentions this in a feature on the DVD versions of the movie.

Notable guest appearances

Throughout its network television run, The Dukes of Hazzard had a consistent mix of up-and-comers and established stars make guest appearances.

Others

NASCAR driver Terry Labonte makes a brief, uncredited appearance as a crewman in the episode "Undercover Dukes Part 1". The race cars supplied for both "Part 1" and "Part 2" of "Undercover Dukes" were supplied by Labonte's race owner, Billy Hagan. However, the emblems of the sponsors of the cars (at that time Labonte was sponsored by Budweiser) were covered to avoid paying royalties.

The celebrity speed trap

During the show's second season, the show's writers began flirting with the idea of incorporating a "celebrity speed trap" into some of the episodes, as a means to feature top country stars of the day performing their hits. On its first couple of instances, the "speed trap" was featured early in the story, but for most of the cases, it was featured in the last few minutes of an episode, often used when the main story was running too short to fill episode time.

The "celebrity speed trap" feature was essentially similar: Aware that a big-name country star was passing through the area, Boss Hogg would order Rosco to lower the speed limit on a particular road to an unreasonable level (using a reversible sign, with one speed limit on one side and another, far lower, on the back), so that the targeted singer would be in violation of the posted limit. The singer would be required to give a free performance at the Boar's Nest in exchange for having their citations forgiven; the performer would then perform one of their best-known hits or other popular country music standard, while the Dukes, Boss, Rosco, Enos, Cletus, Cooter, and other patrons whooped and hollered in enjoyment of the performance. More often than not, the performer would give a sarcastic parting shot to Boss and Rosco.

Singers who were featured in the "speed trap" segments were:

Honorable mentions: Mickey Gilley, Loretta Lynn

Gilley's and Lynn's appearances were not solely for the celebrity speed trap. After performing a concert in Hazzard, Gilley was nabbed while leaving and forced to do a second show to nullify his citation. Lynn was kidnapped by criminals wanting to break into the music business. Loretta Lynn was the very first country music guest star on the show in 1979 and had an entire episode dedicated to her titled "Find Loretta Lynn".

Note: Janie Fricke was the only country music guest star who did not perform a song, celebrity speed trap or otherwise. She played an accomplice to a robber in an episode who hid money in the dashboard of the car that was to become the General Lee.

Casting of Coy and Vance

Christopher Mayer and Byron Cherry as Vance and Coy Duke, respectively Coy vance duke of hazzard.jpg
Christopher Mayer and Byron Cherry as Vance and Coy Duke, respectively

The Dukes of Hazzard was consistently among the top-rated television series (at one point, ranking second only to Dallas , which immediately followed the show on CBS' Friday night schedule). With that success came huge profits in merchandising, with a wide array of Dukes of Hazzard toys and products being licensed and becoming big sellers. However, over the course of the show's fourth season, series stars Tom Wopat and John Schneider—who had already previously voiced their concern and discontent about increasingly inferior scripts being written for episodes—became increasingly concerned about a contract dispute over their salaries and merchandising royalties owed to them over the high sales of Dukes products. They felt that neither of them was being paid what was owed to them[ citation needed ] and this became very frustrating to the duo. As a result, in the spring of 1982, as filming was due to begin on the fifth season, Wopat and Schneider did not report to the set in protest over the matter. Catherine Bach also considered walking out due to similar concerns, but Wopat and Schneider convinced her to stay, insisting that if she left, then there might not be a show to come back to, and that settling the issue was up to them. [7]

Production was pushed back by a few weeks as fairly similar looking replacements were subsequently, hastily hired: Byron Cherry as Coy Duke and Christopher Mayer as Vance Duke. Bo and Luke were said to have gone to race on the NASCAR circuit; how they managed to do this, bearing in mind the terms of their probation, was never explained. Cherry and Mayer were originally contracted at just 10 episodes as stand-ins, still with hope that a settlement might be reached with Wopat and Schneider [8] (in total, they made 19 episodes including one with Bo and Luke). Some scripts for Coy and Vance were originally written for Bo and Luke but with their names quite literally crossed out and Coy and Vance penned in. [7]

The new Dukes—previously-unmentioned nephews of Uncle Jesse, who were said to have left the farm in 1976 before the show had started—were unpopular with the great majority of viewers, and the ratings immediately sank. Much of the criticism was that Coy and Vance were nothing but direct clones of Bo and Luke, with Coy a direct "carbon copy" replacement for Bo and Vance for Luke, with little variation in character. This was something that even show creator Gy Waldron has said was wrong, [9] and that he insisted, unsuccessfully, that audiences would not accept direct character clones and the two replacements should be taken in a different direction character wise, but was overridden by the producers. Waldron also commented that if Bach too had walked, the show would have most probably been cancelled. It was reported that prior to filming, Cherry and Mayer were given Bo and Luke episodes to watch, to study and learn to emulate them, although Cherry has said in interviews that he does not recall this ever happening.

Hit hard by the significant drop in ratings, Warner Bros. renegotiated with Wopat and Schneider, and eventually a settlement was reached, and the original Duke boys returned to the series in early 1983, four episodes from the conclusion of the fifth season. Initially, part of the press release announcing Wopat and Schneider's return suggested that Cherry and Mayer would remain as part of the cast (though presumably in a reduced role), [10] but it was quickly realized that "four Duke boys" would not work within the context of the series, and due to the huge unpopularity associated with their time on the show, they were quickly written out of the same episode in which Bo and Luke returned.

Return of Bo and Luke

Although Coy and Vance were never popular, viewers were disappointed by their departure episode, "Welcome Back, Bo 'n' Luke", which was for the most part a standard episode, with the return of Bo and Luke and the departure of Coy and Vance tacked onto the beginning (Bo and Luke return from their NASCAR tour just as Coy and Vance leave Hazzard to tend to a sick relative). More than a few viewers commented that they were disappointed by this, and that they would have liked to see both pairs of Duke boys team up to tackle a particularly dastardly plot by Boss Hogg before Coy and Vance's departure, but as it turned out, Coy and Vance had little dialogue and were gone by the first commercial break, never to be seen, heard from or even mentioned again. [11]

While the return of Bo and Luke was welcomed by ardent and casual viewers alike, and as a result ratings recovered slightly, the show never completely regained its former popularity. One of Wopat and Schneider's disputes even before they left was what they considered to be increasingly weak and formulaic scripts and episode plots. [12] With Wopat and Schneider's return, the producers agreed to try a wider scope of storylines. [13] However, although it continued for two more seasons, the show never fully returned to its former glory. Many cast members, such as Tom Wopat, decried the miniature car effects newly incorporated to depict increasingly absurd General Lee and patrol car stunts (which had previously been performed with real cars by stunt drivers). [14] The miniature car effects were intended as a budget saving measure (to save the cost of repairing or replacing damaged vehicles) and to help compete visually with KITT from the NBC series Knight Rider .[ citation needed ] In February 1985, The Dukes of Hazzard ended its run after seven seasons, so they were not picked up to do season 8.

Vehicles

The General Lee (Dodge Charger)

The General Lee (Dodge Charger) Charg.jpg
The General Lee (Dodge Charger)
The General Lee on public display General lee.jpg
The General Lee on public display

The General Lee was based on a 1969 Dodge Charger [15] owned by Bo and Luke (the series used mostly 1969 Chargers in the beginning; later on, they also modified 1968 Chargers to look like 1969s by pop-riviting 1969-model taillamps, taillamp panels, and the center "I" piece common to the 1969 Charger). It was orange with a Confederate battle flag painted on the roof, the words "GENERAL LEE" over each door, and the number "01" on each door. In the original five Georgia-filmed episodes, a Confederate flag along with a checkered racing flag in a criss-cross pattern could be seen behind the rear window; this was removed because the extra decal was impossible to replicate over and over again. The name refers to the American Civil War Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The television show was based on the movie Moonrunners , in turn based on actual moonshine runners who used a 1958 Chrysler named Traveler, after General Lee's horse (with a slight spelling change). Traveler was originally intended to be the name of the Duke boys' stock car too, until producers agreed that General Lee had more punch to it.

Since it was built as a race car, the doors were welded shut.[ further explanation needed ] Through the history of the show, an estimated 309 Chargers were used; 17 are still known to exist in various states of repair. A replica was owned by John Schneider, known as "Bo's General Lee". In 2008, Schneider sold "Bo's General Lee" at the Barrett-Jackson automobile auction for $230,000. An eBay auction which garnered a bid of $9,900,500 for the car was never finalized, with the purported bidder claiming his account had been hacked. [16] The underside of the hood has the signatures of the cast from the 1997 TV movie. Schneider has also restored over 20 other General Lees to date. In 2008, a replica of the General Lee fetched a high bid of $450,000 at the Barrett-Jackson auto auction. In 2012, the General Lee 1, the first car used in filming the series, was purchased at auction by golfer Bubba Watson for $110,000. The car had been scrapped after being wrecked during the famous opening jump shoot, and was later discovered in a junkyard by the president of the North American General Lee fan club. [17] In 2015, following a wave of sentiment against Confederate symbolism in the wake of shootings in Charleston, SC (relating to photos where the attacker had posed with the Confederate flag), Bubba Watson announced that he would remove the Confederate Flag from the roof of the General Lee 1 and repaint it with the U.S. National Flag. [18]

The show also used 1968 Chargers (which shared the same sheet metal) by pop-riveting the "I" piece to the center of the 68's grille, as well as cutting out the tail lights, pop-riveting the '69 lenses in place, and removing the round side marker lights. These Chargers performed many record-breaking jumps throughout the show, almost all of them resulting in a completely destroyed car. No 1970 Chargers were used, as backdating them proved to be too time-consuming.

The Duke boys added a custom air horn to the General Lee that played the first 12 notes of the song "Dixie". The Dixie horn was not originally planned, until a Georgia local hot rod racer drove by and sounded his car's Dixie horn. The producers immediately rushed after him asking where he had bought the horn. Warner Bros. purchased several Chargers for stunts, as they generally destroyed at least one or two cars per episode. By the end of the show's sixth season, the Chargers were becoming harder to find and more expensive. In addition, the television series Knight Rider began to rival the General Lee's stunts. As such, the producers used 1:8 scale miniatures, filmed by Jack Sessums' crew, or recycled stock jump footage—the latter being a practice that had been in place to an extent since the second season, and had increased as the seasons passed.

Some of the 01 and Confederate flag motifs were initially hand painted, but as production sped up, these were replaced with vinyl decals for quick application (and removal), as needed.

During the first five episodes of the show that were filmed in Georgia, the cars involved with filming were given to the crew at the H&H body shop near the filming location. At this shop, the men worked day and night to prepare the wrecked cars for the next day while still running their body shop during the day. Time was of the essence, and the men that worked at this shop worked hard hours to get the cars prepared for the show.

The third episode "Mary Kaye's Baby" is the only one in which the General Lee does not appear. Instead, the Dukes drove around in a blue 1975 Plymouth Fury borrowed from Cooter that Luke later destroyed by shooting a flaming arrow at the car, whose trunk had been leaking due to the moonshine stowed in the back.

The Duke boys' CB handle was (jointly) "Lost Sheep". Originally when the show was conceived, their handle was to be "General Lee" to match their vehicle, but this was only ever used on-screen on one occasion, in the second episode, "Daisy's Song", when Cooter calls Bo and Luke over the CB by this handle, although they were actually driving Daisy's Plymouth Road Runner (see below) at the time. As it became obvious that the "General Lee" handle would be out of place when the Duke boys were in another vehicle, the "Lost Sheep" handle was devised (with Uncle Jesse being "Shepherd" and Daisy being "Bo Peep").

Hazzard police cars (AMC Matador, Dodge Polara, Dodge Monaco, Plymouth Fury)

1970s-era Plymouth Fury similar to the ones used in the series Dukes of Hazzard Sheriff Car 5-10-2014.JPG
1970s-era Plymouth Fury similar to the ones used in the series

The 1975 AMC Matador [19] was one of many Hazzard County police cars used on the series, mostly in the first season; they had light bars and working radios. A 1970 Dodge Polara [20] and a 1974 Dodge Monaco [21] were used during the pilot episode "One Armed Bandits", these were also seen in the show's title sequence. From the second season, the 1977 Dodge Monaco [22] was mostly used. From mid-season four the similar looking 1978 Plymouth Fury [23] was used instead. The Matadors and Furies were former Los Angeles Police Department vehicles, while the Monacos were former California Highway Patrol units.

Plymouth Road Runner

A 1974 Plymouth Road Runner [24] (yellow with a black stripe) was Daisy Duke's car in the first five episodes of the first season. For the last episodes of the first season a similarly painted 1971 Plymouth Satellite Sebring with a matching "Road Runner" stripe was used. In the second season Bo and Luke send it off a cliff in "The Runaway". Another, identical Plymouth 1971 model car appeared in the background a few more episodes along with the Jeep CJ-7 until it was finally dropped altogether.

Jeep CJ-7

Dixie was the name given to Daisy Duke's white 1980 Jeep CJ-7 "Golden Eagle" which had a golden eagle emblem on the hood and the name "Dixie" on the sides. Like other vehicles in the show, there was actually more than one Jeep used throughout the series. Sometimes it would have an automatic transmission, and other times it would be a manual. The design of the roll cage also varied across the seasons. When the Jeep was introduced at the end of the second season's "The Runaway", it was seen to have doors and a slightly different paint job, but, bar one appearance in the next produced episode, "Arrest Jesse Duke" (actually broadcast before "The Runaway", causing a continuity error), thereafter the doors were removed and the paint job was made all-white, with Dixie painted on the sides of the hood. These Jeeps were leased to the producers of the show by American Motors Corporation in exchange for a brief mention in the closing credits of the show.

Ford F-100 pickup truck

Uncle Jesse's truck was a white Ford pickup truck, most commonly a sixth-generation (1973–1977) F100 Styleside. [25] However, in the earliest episodes it had a Flareside bed, and varied between F100 and F250 models throughout the show's run. Bo, Luke and Daisy also drove Jesse's truck on occasion.

Cadillac Coupe de Ville

A white 1970 Cadillac de Ville convertible was used as Boss Hogg's car, notably with large bull horns as a hood ornament. In early seasons, Hogg was almost always driven by a chauffeur, who was normally nameless and had little or no dialogue, but identified on occasion as being called "Alex"; and played by several uncredited actors, including stuntman Gary Baxley. This chauffeur would often be dressed in a red plaid shirt and deep brown or black Stetson hat, but on occasion would be an older man, sometimes dressed in more typical chauffeur attire.

Hogg is first seen to drive for himself in the second season opener "Days of Shine and Roses", where he and Jesse challenge each other to one last moonshine race. From the fourth season onward, except for a couple of brief reappearances of the chauffeur (during the fourth season), Hogg drove himself around in his Cadillac (or occasionally driven by Rosco and, in the series' finale, by Uncle Jesse) and frequently challenged others by invoking his driving expertise from his days as a ridge-runner. Unlike other vehicles in the series, Boss Hogg's Cadillac is typically treated with kid gloves. The car is almost always seen with its convertible top down, with the top only being seen in two episodes, "Daisy's Song" (the chauffeur was called "Eddie" in this episode), the second to be produced and broadcast, and briefly in the second-season episode "Witness for the Persecution", when Cooter is returning it to the Court House after repairs.

Ford Custom 500

A green and blacked out 1971 Ford Custom 500 sedan named Black Tillie was once used by Uncle Jesse to make moonshine runs.

Theme song

The theme song "Good Ol' Boys" was written and performed by Waylon Jennings. He was also "The Balladeer" (as credited), and served as narrator of the show. However, the version released as a single is not the same version that was used in the show's opening credits; the single version has a repeat of the chorus and an instrumental to pad out the length, uses a different instrumental mix that emphasizes the bass, and replaces the last verse with an inside joke about how the TV show producers "keep on showing (Jennings's) hands and not (his) face on TV".

In 1980, the song reached No. 1 on the American Country chart and peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100. [26]

Broadcast history

United States

Syndication

Soon before the series ended its original run on CBS, The Dukes of Hazzard went into off-network syndication. Although not as widely run as it was back in the 1980s and the years since, reruns of the program do continue to air in various parts of the United States.

Notably, television stations that aired the show in syndication include KCOP Los Angeles, WGN-TV Chicago, KBHK San Francisco, WKBD Detroit, WTAF/WTXF Philadelphia, KTXL Sacramento, WVTV Milwaukee, KMSP Minneapolis–Saint Paul, among others.

Nationwide, the show also aired on ABC Family (2000–01, 2004) and CMT (2005–07, 2010–12, 2014–15) and TV Land (2015); TV Land dropped the show in the wake of protests and controversy surrounding the display of the Confederate flag. [28]

The Nashville Network bought The Dukes of Hazzard from Warner Bros. in 1997 for well over $10 million; not only did it improve the network's ratings, the show was also popular among younger viewers, a demographic TNN had a notorious difficulty in drawing; The Dukes of Hazzard has run either on TNN or sister network CMT ever since. [29]

Nielsen ratings

YearViewers (millions)Rating
1978–197921.0 [30] #20 [30]
1979–198018.38 [31] #9 [31]
1980–198121.81 [32] #2 [33]
1981–198218.41 [34] #6 [35]
1982–198317.2#34 [36]
1983–198416.4 [37] #36 [37]
1984–198513.8 [38] #41 [38]

International

Spin-offs

TV movies

There were two made-for-TV reunion movies that aired on CBS, The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion! (1997) and The Dukes of Hazzard: Hazzard in Hollywood (2000).

Films

Also made were The Dukes of Hazzard in 2005 and a direct-to-video prequel The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning in 2007. [40] These films were more buddy comedy road film in tone than the original TV series, which was an action-comedy.

Home media

DVD

Warner Home Video has released all seven seasons of The Dukes of Hazzard on DVD in Regions 1 and 2. The two TV movies that followed the series were released on DVD in Region 1 on June 10, 2008 and in Region 4 on June 4, 2014. [41] In Region 4, Warner has released only the first six seasons on DVD and the two TV movies. The Complete Series and Two Unrated Feature Films Box Set was released on DVD in Region 1 on November 14, 2017. [42]

DVD nameEp #Release dates
Region 1Region 2Region 4
The Complete First Season13June 1, 2004August 15, 2005August 17, 2005
The Complete Second Season23January 25, 2005September 26, 2005August 17, 2005
The Complete Third Season23May 31, 2005November 21, 2005March 1, 2006
The Complete Fourth Season27 [43] August 2, 2005February 13, 2006March 1, 2006
The Complete Fifth Season22December 13, 2005April 10, 2006August 9, 2006
The Complete Sixth Season22May 30, 2006July 24, 2006August 9, 2006
The Complete Seventh Season17December 5, 2006September 22, 2008N/A
Two-Movie Collection2June 10, 2008N/AJune 4, 2014
The Complete Series
and Two Unrated Feature Films Box Set

147November 14, 2017N/AN/A

Streaming

The TV series was also made available for streaming and download through a variety of services. [44]

Reception

Season 1 garnered a mixed reception from critics. Tom Shales ( The Washington Post ): "Within five minutes, the program is out of breath from pandering so pantingly to its audience. [...] If this show succeeds, every television critic in America may as well quit." [45] Peter Hartlaub, writing for the San Francisco Chronicle : "Unfortunately, the first "Dukes" season wasn't the best, with a low budget and characters who found their footing as the series continued (Cooter started out a numbskull type)." [46] Conversely, Danny Graydon (Empire) writes: "Today, Hazzard's considerable charm endures, even if the sheer predictability is wearing." [47]

In 2005, Tom Wopat and John Schneider were reunited during "Exposed", a fifth-season episode of the television series Smallville . [48] Wopat guest-starred as Kansas State Senator Jack Jennings, an old friend of Clark Kent's adoptive father Jonathan Kent (portrayed by Schneider). In the episode, Jennings drives a 1968 Dodge Charger—the same body style as the General Lee. [49]

Daisy Duke was almost always dressed in very short high waist jean shorts. That style of shorts became known as "Daisy Dukes". [50]

Lizard Lick Towing featured an episode with its repossession specialists Ronnie Shirley and Bobby Brantley repossessing a General Lee replica. [51]

Confederate flag controversy

After the 2015 Charleston church shooting, renewed debate about the symbolism of the Confederate battle flag (which was prominently featured on the General Lee's roof, and panel behind the rear window in the first five episodes) prompted TV Land to pull reruns of the original series. [52] Warner Bros., which owns the property, announced it would also no longer create merchandise bearing the flag, including miniatures of the General Lee. [53] During the 2020 George Floyd protests, Amazon reportedly considered removing the program from its streaming service. [54]

Tourist attraction

Artifacts from the show are on display in Luray, Virginia; Nashville, Tennessee; and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Cooter's Place in Luray is overseen by Ben "Cooter" Jones from the series. The Pigeon Forge location features a gift shop and a small display of costumes, collectibles and artifacts from the show.

Covington and Conyers, Georgia; where the original five episodes were produced, have been two major tourist attractions for Dukes of Hazzard fans.

Related Research Articles

<i>The Dukes</i> (TV series) 1983 Saturday morning animated series

The Dukes is a 30-minute Saturday morning animated series based on the live-action television series The Dukes of Hazzard which aired on CBS from February 5 to October 29, 1983. The series was produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television, producer of the original series. 20 episodes were produced.

Daisy Duke

Daisy Duke is a fictional character, played by Catherine Bach, from the American television series The Dukes of Hazzard. She is the cousin of Bo and Luke, the main protagonists of the show, and the three live on a farm on the outskirts of Hazzard County with their Uncle Jesse.

<i>The Dukes of Hazzard</i> (film) 2005 American film directed by Jay Chandrasekhar

The Dukes of Hazzard is a 2005 American action comedy road film loosely based on the television series of the same name. The film was directed by Jay Chandrasekhar and released on August 5, 2005 by Warner Bros. Pictures. As in the television series, the film depicts the adventures of cousins Bo, Luke, and Daisy, and their Uncle Jesse, as they outfox crooked Hazzard County Commissioner Boss Hogg and Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane.

<i>Enos</i> (TV series)

Enos is an American action-comedy television series and a spin-off of The Dukes of Hazzard. It originally aired on CBS from November 12, 1980, to May 20, 1981. The series focused on the adventures of Enos Strate, a former deputy in rural Hazzard County, after he moved to Los Angeles to join the LAPD. Actor Sonny Shroyer played the character of Enos on both shows. The scene was set for Enos leaving Hazzard to become a Los Angeles lawman in the third season Dukes of Hazzard episode "Enos Strate To The Top".

Byron Cherry American actor

Byron Cherry is an American actor. He portrayed Coy Duke, one of the new Duke Boys, in the 1982–1983 season of The Dukes of Hazzard for the first 19 episodes of season 5.

Jefferson Davis "J.D." Hogg, known as Boss Hogg, is a fictional character featured in the American television series The Dukes of Hazzard. He was the greedy, unethical commissioner of Hazzard County. A stereotypical villainous glutton, Boss Hogg almost always wore an all-white suit with a white cowboy hat and regularly smoked cigars. His namesake is Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States of America. Boss Hogg is one of only three characters to appear in every episode of the TV series, the others being Daisy Duke and Uncle Jesse Duke. The role of Boss Hogg was played by Sorrell Booke, who performed frequently on radio, stage, television and film prior to his role in The Dukes of Hazzard.

Bo Duke

Beauregard "Bo" Duke is a fictional character in the American television series The Dukes of Hazzard, which ran from 1979 to 1985. He was played by John Schneider.

Luke Duke

Lucas K. "Luke" Duke is a fictional character in the American television series The Dukes of Hazzard which ran from 1979 to 1985. Luke was played by Tom Wopat.

The Boar's Nest is the local restaurant and tavern in the television series The Dukes of Hazzard and the movie Moonrunners.

<i>The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion!</i>

The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion! is a 1997 American made-for-television action-adventure film reuniting the surviving cast members of the 1979–1985 television series The Dukes of Hazzard which originally aired on CBS on April 25, 1997. The film was directed by Lewis Teague, written by series creator Gy Waldron, and produced by Ira Marvin and Skip Ward.

<i>Moonrunners</i> 1975 film by Gy Waldron

Moonrunners is a 1975 action comedy film starring James Mitchum, about a Southern family that runs bootleg liquor. It was reworked four years later into the popular long-running television series The Dukes of Hazzard, and as such the two productions share many similar concepts. Mitchum had co-starred with his father, Robert Mitchum, in the similar drive-in favorite Thunder Road eighteen years earlier, which also focused upon moonshine-running bootleggers using fast cars to elude federal agents. Moonrunners, a B movie, was filmed in 1973 and awaited release for over a year. Its soundtrack reflects the outlaw music boom of the 1970s during which the film was released.

<i>The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning</i> 2007 television film directed by Robert Berlinger

The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning is a 2007 American made-for-television buddy comedy film and a prequel to the 2005 film The Dukes of Hazzard. An edited version of the film originally aired on ABC Family channel on March 4, 2007 and the 'R'-rated and unrated versions were released on DVD March 13.

The Dukes of Hazzard: Hazzard in Hollywood is a 2000 American made-for-television action-adventure comedy film based on the 1979–1985 television series The Dukes of Hazzard which aired on CBS on May 19, 2000.

<i>The Dukes of Hazzard</i> (video game)

The Dukes of Hazzard is a 1984 racing video game developed and published by Coleco for their ColecoVision game console and Coleco Adam computer. Elite Systems released a different game with the same title for the ZX Spectrum computer on February 23, 1985. Both versions are based on the television series of the same name.

<i>The Dukes of Hazzard: Racing for Home</i> 1999 video game

The Dukes of Hazzard: Racing for Home is a racing video game published by SouthPeak Interactive that was released for the PlayStation in 1999. The game was later released for Game Boy Color and Microsoft Windows in 2000. It is based on the television show, The Dukes of Hazzard. Waylon Jennings, James Best, Ben Jones, Sonny Shroyer, and Tom Wopat reprised their characters by providing their voices to the PC and PlayStation versions of the game. A sequel titled The Dukes of Hazzard II: Daisy Dukes It Out was released in 2000.

<i>General Lee</i> (car) Motor vehicle

The General Lee is an orange 1969 Dodge Charger driven in the television series The Dukes of Hazzard by the Duke boys, Bo and Luke, along with cousins Coy and Vance. It is known for its signature horn, its police chases, stunts—especially its long jumps—and for having its doors welded shut, leaving the Dukes to climb in and out through the windows. The car appears in every episode but one. The car's name is a reference to American Civil War general Robert E. Lee. It bears a rebel flag on its roof, and also has a horn which plays the first 12 notes of the song "Dixie".

Rosco Purvis Coltrane is a fictional sheriff character who appeared in the 1975 film Moonrunners, which inspired the creation of the American TV series The Dukes of Hazzard.

<i>The Dukes of Hazzard II: Daisy Dukes It Out</i>

The Dukes of Hazzard II: Daisy Dukes It Out is a racing video game developed by Sinister Games and published by SouthPeak Interactive in North America and Ubi Soft in Europe for the PlayStation in 2000. It is based on the television series The Dukes of Hazzard, which aired from 1979 to 1985; and is a sequel to the 1999 racing video game The Dukes of Hazzard: Racing for Home, also developed by Sinister Games.

Cooter's Place, also known simply as Cooter's, is the collective name of three museums in the United States, exhibiting memorabilia from the American action-comedy television series The Dukes of Hazzard. The museums are named after Cooter Davenport, one of the main characters in the show.

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Further reading