Warner Bros. // 1982 // 1316 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Paul Corupe (Retired) // September 7th, 2005
Been runnin' from the law since the day they was born.
The Dukes of Hazzard may not have been the most original series on TV, but it was one of the most entertaining. Adapting the unadulterated vehicular mayhem of films like Smokey and the Bandit and Moonrunners to a weekly format, the show was a phenomenally popular mix of hillbilly comedy and action-filled mystery, all topped off with a bevy of leggy girls and even better looking cars. Who wouldn't love the chance to slip into the passenger seat of the General Lee, grab the CB and join anti-heroes Bo and Luke in their struggle against the cartoonish Sheriff Roscoe and his supervisor, the corpulent Boss Hogg? That's a 10-4, good buddy!
Somewhere deep in the heart of Georgia, country cuzzins Luke (Tom Wopat, Story, Songs and Stars) and Bo Duke (John Schneider, Speed Zone!) live on a farm with their Uncle, an ex-moonshiner named Jesse (Denver Pyle, The Great Race). On probation for rumrunning themselves, Bo and Luke have decided to give up life on the wrong side of the still under Uncle Jesse's watchful eye. For all their efforts, though, those Duke Boys always seem to find themselves in a mess of hardship as they tear around town in their pride and joy, an orange 1969 Dodge Charger nicknamed "The General Lee." Hazzard's "Supervisory Administrator" and leading industrialist, J.D. "Boss" Hogg (Sorrell Booke, Freaky Friday) holds a grudge against Jesse and his kin that stretches all the way back to the days when they use to run shine against each other, and Hogg keeps the Dukes on a short leash through the local police department, run by Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (James Best, Rolling Thunder) and Deputy Cletus Hogg (Rick Hurst). As the cousins inadvertently find themselves in trouble each week and threatened with jail, they rely on cousin Daisy Duke (Catherine Bach, Cannonball Run II) and Hazzard mechanic Cooter Davenport (Ben Jones, Moonrunners) -- as well as the real star of the show, the General -- to help them outfox the Smokeys and bring the true lawbreakers to justice. Or, in the immortal words of Boss Hogg, each episode can be summed up thusly: "Rosco, get them Duke boys!"
This whopping nine-disc DVD set serves up a mess of vehicular mayhem in 27 morsels. Here's what you get:
* Mrs. Daisy Hogg
Boss Hogg's nephew Jamie Lee Hogg (Jonathan Frakes, Star Trek: The Next Generation) arrives in town and sweeps Daisy off her feet, but Bo and Luke are convinced he is a counterfeiter. 7/10
* Double Dukes
Bo, Luke and the General Lee times two? Sounds like another Boss Hogg plan to frame the Dukes. 10/10
* Diamonds in the Rough
A cache of stolen diamonds on the Dukes' property is up for grabs, and Boss Hogg tries to outwit the smugglers to get his own grubby hands on the prize. 8/10
* Coltrane vs. Duke
Boss Hogg has Rosco sue the Dukes on a trumped up charge of whiplash in order to buy up their farm and sell it for big bucks to an interested party. 8/10
* The Fugitive
When Boss and Rosco's cunning plan to steal motorcycles is overheard by a pretty young drifter, they have her arrested. The Dukes attempt to spring her. 8/10
* The Great Bank Robbery
Fired by Boss Hogg a day before his pension eligibility, the bank janitor steals $30,000, until Bo and Luke convince him to put it back.
* Sadie Hogg Day
The sticky-fingered Boss Hogg tries to pass the buck on an state audit by declaring Daisy the honorary county treasurer. 9/10
* 10 Million Dollar Sheriff Part 1
After falling into a multi-million dollar inheritance, Rosco hires a bounty hunter to put Bo and Luke in the slammer. 10/10
* 10 Million Dollar Sheriff Part 2
Rosco watches his riches vanish before his eyes just as the bounty hunter demands payment. 9/10
* Trouble at Cooter's
After receiving a shipment of stolen furs, Boss Hogg is ripped off by the same thieves. 7/10
* Goodbye, General Lee
In order to win a car race, Boss hypnotizes Luke into getting rid of the General Lee. 9/10
* Cletus Falls in Love
Love is in the air when Cletus is convinced Daisy's smitten with him after he lets the Duke boys off of a ticket. Wackiness ensues. 9/10
* Hughie Hogg Strikes Again
The chameleon-like Hughie Hogg slips back in town with a plan to take over Cooter's garage. 7/10
* Dukescam Scam
The Dukes lose the farm when Jesse puts up their property as bail to get Boss Hogg out of jail on a bank robbery rap. It's all a scam though, and the Duke boys are charged with making things right. 9/10
* The Sound of Music -- Hazzard Style
Boss plans to sell bootleg records of Mickey Gilley's charity concert at Hazzard Square, but he pins it all on Bo and Luke when the FBI arrives. 7/10
* Shine on Hazzard Moon
After landing Bo and Luke in jail on a phony theft charge, Boss Hogg tries to trade their freedom for Uncle Jesse's secret moonshine recipe. 10/10
* Pin the Tail on the Dukes
Bo and Luke accidentally destroy Boss's phony radar gun as they try to help a friend of Jesse's buy back his farm. 8/10
* Miz Tisdale on the Lam
When Boss's mail fraud risks exposure, he pins the blame on sweet old Miz Tisdale, at least until the Dukes come to rescue. 8/10
* Nothin' But the Truth
Boss gets Bo and Luke arrested for his own casino operation, but a hypodermic full of truth serum turns the roulette tables on him. 9/10
* Dear Diary
Rosco loses his scam-detailing diary, and two criminals try to blackmail Boss with it. 9/10
* New Deputy in Town
The Dukes get suspicious about a gorgeous new deputy who has arrived in town to escort a prisoner out of state. 8/10
* Birds Gotta Fly
Boss Hogg tricks Daisy into giving him a part of her new NASCAR contract. 9/10
* Bad Day in Hazzard
Four armed robbers hold the Dukes and Boss Hogg hostage at the Boar's Nest as part of a plan to hit an armored truck. 9/10
* Miss Tri-Counties
Boss Hogg is bribed to make sure that Daisy Duke loses the local beauty contest. 8/10
* Share and Share Alike
A bag of stolen credit cards sends Boss Hogg off on another wild scheme to frame the Dukes. 7/10
* The Law and Jesse Duke
After framing Bo and Luke, Boss has "temporary sheriff" Jesse Duke arrest the boys. 9/10
* Dukes in Danger
While trying to foreclose on the Duke farm, Boss and Roscoe find the family has been taken hostage by two escaped convicts. 9/10
After three long years of hard drivin', ridge runnin', gulch leapin' action, The Dukes of Hazzard showed no sign of slowing down as they charged into their 27-episode fourth season. Continuing to mine the signature comedy-action formula that kept the show a prime time hit, this set finds the Dukes at the very height of their popularity and cultural influence.
Indeed, those who have been faithfully picking up Warner's more-than-acceptable DVD season sets of The Dukes of Hazzard will find little to nitpick with this set. The crashes are still spectacular, the Dukes still mischievous and the hot pants still short. However, one thing that becomes clear this season, as the series approaches the 100-episode mark, is the growing redundancy of the show. Countless episodes this season are built around the same basic plot, as Boss Hogg's illegal activities are threatened by some upstate authority figure headed to Hazzard, forcing him to frame the Dukes and their associates in order to escape paying for his devious money-making crimes. It's a plot that's been a mainstay of Dukes canon since year one, but this year the show goes to some pretty ridiculous lengths to keep the well-worn story fresh, including truth serums, hypnosis, and Bo and Luke imposters in latex masks. Regardless, The Dukes of Hazzard remains generally entertaining throughout much of its long-in-the-tooth fourth year run, and there are more than enough noteworthy episodes to make up for the occasional lemon. "Dear Diary," in which Rosco's incriminating diary is lost is a nice twist on the familiar formula, and this season's two-parter, "10 Million Dollar Sheriff" has some great moments as Rosco blows his inheritance on a garish rhinestone wardrobe and a brand new Cadillac.
Special guest stars from the world of country and western music continue to stop by for a jar of moonshine this season, including Johnny Paycheck, Donna Fargo, Buck Owens and Mickey Gilley. Most of these artists get to perform as part of Boss Hogg's "celebrity speed traps," which brought Americana music acts to Hazzard County under the pretense that they were paying off trumped-up speeding tickets with a free performance for the locals at the Boar's Nest. It's a clever ongoing gimmick, and the musical sequences are handled in a way that makes them an integral part of the show's success.
For all its popularity, though, The Dukes of Hazzard was a series that was constantly plagued by cast problems, as characters vanished and returned on a regular basis with very little fanfare. Season four, however, was easily one of the show's most stable years, with all the principal talent making it through their parts without any protests, strikes or leaves of absence to disrupt the natural camaraderie between the actors. The only noticeable deserter is Sonny Shroyer, who played Deputy Enos throughout the first couple of season, who was off trying his hand at his own (doomed) prime time series, Enos. He's replaced by one of Boss Hogg's numerous cousins, Cletus Hogg (Rick Hurst), who had previously filled in for Shroyer when he contracted appendicitis in season two. He's not as much fun as Enos, but the characters are almost identical in design. The fifth season of The Dukes of Hazzard (due out on DVD by Christmas, 2005) would see the show's most crucial cast problem, after Tom Wopat and John Schneider walked off the show and were temporarily replaced by their lost "cousins" Coy and Vance, ultimately precipitating the demise of the series.
Warner Brothers' The Dukes of Hazzard: The Complete Fourth Season hasn't improved much as a whole from earlier DVD releases. The episodes themselves are passable -- a little grimy, a little worn, but with the bright colors that the series has always exhibited. Likewise, the audio is perfectly serviceable, with the show's lack of fidelity easily explained away by the mono source material. Still, dialogue always sounds perfect, music is well represented, and the glass-smashing, metal-crunching crack-up sound effects are just as lively as you remember them. While not perfect, you really can't complain too much about the transfer of this 25-year-old TV show.
The Dukes of Hazzard: The Complete Fourth Season also packs in a few interesting supplemental features. The fun kicks off with a commentary track on the second episode, "Double Dukes" with Tom Wopat, John Schneider and Catherine Bach. It's great to hear them back together and talking about the show -- it's only a shame that they only reunited for one track. On the ninth and final disc, you'll find a documentary called "The Dukes Story: Building a Legend" that features interviews with the cast and crew about how the show originally came together. It's an informative little piece that will greatly appeal to fans of the show. This might have been a better supplement for Warner to include on the first season set, but I'm glad it's here nonetheless. Not the most extensive selection of extras I've ever seen, but it falls in with the earlier releases quite nicely, making this a solid addition to the Dukes on DVD line-up.
Like much of the series, when The Dukes of Hazzard: The Complete Fourth Season is good, it's honking Dixie. This is another fine release that is recommended for die hard Duke fans and nostalgia hounds alike. Yeehaw!
Innocent. Those good old boys were never meanin' no harm.
Review content copyright © 2005 Paul Corupe; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 1316 Minutes
Release Year: 1982
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Commentary with Tom Wopat, John Schneider, and Catharine Bach
* The Dukes Story: Building a Legend
* The Dukes of Hazzard: The Complete First Season
* The Dukes of Hazzard: The Complete Second Season