There was a time when we just couldn’t get enougth of American TV. Their Cop shows ie, Kojak, Starsky and Hutch had become must see TV here in Britain. Sadly as much as I enjoyed the drama output I never quite got the comedy. However there was one little gem that had everything, car chases, brushes with the law and possibly one of TV’s funniest characters in Sherriff Roscoe – The Dukes Of Hazzard.
Inspired by the 1975 film Moonrunners, which was also created by Gy Waldron and had many identical or similar character names and concepts, The Dukes Of Hazzard arrived on American TV screens in early 1979, a few months later it blasted onto British TV screens. Because of the adult nature of some of the early episodes it went out at 9pm.
By the end of season three the show was huge with not just high ratings but merchandisde flying off shelves. During the course of the show’s fourth season, series stars Tom Wopat and John Schneider were becoming increasingly concerned over a contract dispute over their salaries and merchandising royalties owed to them in respect of Dukes products. Neither were being paid what was owed to them and this became very frustrating to the duo. This resulted in both stars not returning for filming of season five. Two lookalike replacements were subsequently, hastily hired: Byron Cherry as Coy Duke and Christopher Mayer as Vance Duke. This was explained in the show as them having left the Duke farm before the series had started, they arriverd back to help Uncle Jesse after Bo and Luke were said to have gone to race on the NASCAR circuit. The move proved unpopular with audiences and by the end of seaon five Bo and Luke were back.
The show was a huge hit with audiences and as some of the more adult elements of very early episodes faded out of the series it moved from its post-watershed position to a more family-friendly Monday evening slot at 7:20 pm. Soon a massive hit, it moved from Monday evenings to prime time Saturday evening (times varied, but typically around 5:25 pm), where it stayed for a number of years. Later when ratings began to dip (partly caused by the change to Coy and Vance, and partly to do with competition from ITV, with new hit shows such as The A-Team), it moved back to Mondays, making the odd return for short runs on Saturdays. Late episodes also popped up occasionally on Sunday afternoons, and the remaining episodes of the final season were broadcast on weekday mornings during school holidays in the late 1980s.
Each episode was introduced by The Balladeer (Waylon Jenkins) who also provided a humorous comentary throughot each episode.
The series follows the adventures of “The Duke Boys”, cousins Bo Duke (John Schneider) and Luke Duke (Tom Wopat), who live in a rural part of the fictional Hazzard County, Georgia, with their attractive female cousin Daisy (Catherine Bach) and their wise old Uncle Jesse (Denver Pyle).
Each week would see them foiling Boss Hogg’s corrupt schemes and plans, finding themselves being persued by Sherriff Roscoe and his deputy (who were in the employ of the corrupt Boss Hogg).
Denver Pyle … Uncle Jesse
Sorrell Booke … Boss Hogg
Catherine Bach … Daisy Duke
Ben Jones … Cooter
James Best … Sheriff Rosco Coltrane
Waylon Jennings … The Balladeer
Tom Wopat … Luke Duke
John Schneider … Bo Duke
Sonny Shroyer … Enos
Channel: BBC1 (UK), CBS (USA)
Created By: Gy Waldron and Jerry Rushing
Original Transmission Dates: January 26th, 1979 – February 8,th 1985 (USA)
An animated version of the show called The Dukes aired in 1983. The first season fell under the Coy and Vance era of the live-action show and thus they were adapted into animated form. By the second season, Bo and Luke had returned, and they replaced Coy and Vance in the cartoon.
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).
In 2005 there was a big screen version starring Johnny Knoxville as Luke Duke, Seann William Scott as Bo Duke and Jessica Simpson as Daisy Duke. It was a box office success but savaged by critics. The film was followed by a direct-to-video prequel titled The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning in 2007.
Official Website http://www.warnervideo.com/dukesofhazzarddvd/