Warner Bros. // 1979 // 822 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Cynthia Boris (Retired) // December 27th, 2006
It's the End of the Road
It's the final jump for the General Lee and the Duke boys...sort of.
Bo (John Schneider, Smallville) and Luke (Tom Wopat, Cybill) Duke are cousins who live in Hazzard County, Georgia with their Uncle Jesse (Denver Pyle) and leggy lady cousin Daisy (Catherine Bach). Daisy works as a waitress at the Boar's Nest for the town bigwig Boss Hogg (Sorrell Booke) who always seems to have it in for her nose-for trouble cousins. Other than helping Jesse run the small farm, the Duke boys don't work for a living (which always left me wondering. I mean, they aren't teenagers, for heaven's sake.)
Bo and Luke tour around the county in a souped-up orange Dodge Charger named the General Lee and are often chased by the sheriff, Roscoe P. Coltrane (James Best) and his deputy Enos (Sonny Shroyer). When the boys get into trouble, their best friend Cooter (Ben Jones) is always there to help.
Each week, The Balladeer (Waylon Jennings) narrates a new tale of how the Duke boys accidentally get into a mess of trouble; end up having to jump lakes, barricades, and barns with their car; and finally save the day when all is said and done.
Episodes in this box set include:
* "Happy Birthday, General Lee"
* "Welcome, Waylon Jennings"
* "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Duke"
* "Robot P. Coltrane"
* "No More Mr. Nice Guy"
* "The Dukes in Hollywood"
* "Cool Hands, Luke & Bo"
* "Go West, Young Dukes"
* "Cale Yarborough Comes to Hazzard"
* "Danger on the Hazzard Express"
* "Sittin' Dukes"
* "Sky Bandits Over Hazzard"
* "The Haunting of J.D. Hogg"
* "When you Wish Upon a Hogg"
* "Strange Visitor to Hazzard"
* "Enos and Daisy's Wedding"
* "Opening Night at the Boar's Nest"
The Dukes of Hazzard is pure country fantasy and it was a huge hit for CBS from the day it premiered. NASCAR fans, this one's for you: the final outing of The Dukes of Hazzard.
Character switch-ups are a running theme in this season with Luke turning bad in "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Duke," and boss turning good in "No More Mr. Nice Guy." The Dukes get to play ancestral versions of themselves in "Go West, Young Dukes," and younger versions of themselves in the flashback tale, "Happy Birthday, General Lee."
NASCAR star Cale Yarborough makes his second appearance on the show and appropriately, the old Balladeer himself, Waylon Jennings stops by Hazzard with his traveling musical memorabilia museum.
Everybody gets all dressed up to attend Daisy's "almost" wedding. That episode in particular points out what The Dukes of Hazzard does best: it shows the importance of family. These three full-grown cousins and an uncle live in a broken down house on a fading farm, and yet you get the feeling that it's a blessing to be a Duke. They eat dinner together. The younger Dukes are exceptionally polite and respectful of the elders, and they've always got each other's backs. A real sense of warm, family love in this series makes it watchable even with all the slapstick sillyness and far-fetched plots.
The DVD set itself is fine, but not great. The episodes have some pops and crackles in them but overall they're pretty clean. Though the set is not special feature heavy, there are a couple of featurettes that will be enjoyable for die-hard fans. The first is a tribute to Waylon Jennings with interviews with the cast, creators, and Jenning's wife and a great telling of how the famous theme came to be. It's informative and touching. Next it's reunion time with considerably older Wopat, Schneider (who still looks like a teen idol), and Bach coming together to film a Dukes of Hazzard theme song music video. It is nice to see them in this behind the scenes casual setting, supporting each other; singing and just generally having a great time. The accompanying music video is a great homage to the series and fans will really enjoy it.
Moving into their seventh and final season, all is as it was in Hazzard County. After a fifth season dispute that had stars Wopat and Schneider walking off the series, the show rebounded when they returned in the sixth and possibly strongest season. But after the prodigal sons return, where else is there to go but down?
When it comes to watching shows I loved as a kid, I'm always afraid I'll find they didn't hold up with time, and Dukes is one of those shows. I never missed it when it was new. I had the posters, the dolls, and all of John Schneider's records (he's a very good country singer, btw). But seeing these shows again after all these years, it's just not the same. Some of that is because my taste in TV has become a tad more sophisticated over the years. Still, there's something about this final season that's off. Maybe Wopat and Schneider are looking a bit long in the tooth to be sliding in and out of car windows. Maybe it's that seven years from the start, no one has changed or grown in Hazzard County. What was clever and unusual in Season One is predictable in Season Seven.
The Dukes of Hazzard is an eighties TV show with a fifties personality. There's no continuity from episode to episode, no basis in reality, no one ever changes -- the whole world stays exactly the same from week to week. That doesn't make it bad TV, it just makes it old-fashioned TV and sometimes that's a great place to be.
The show, quirky as it is, survived seven seasons and that's nothing to sneeze at. I don't think anyone ever understood why the show rose to such heights so quickly, but it really was a phenomena when it hit the airwaves in 1979. Sure, it had two cute teen idol stars and a girl in short shorts for the male viewers but I don't think that's why the show survived. The secret is in the simplicity. There is nothing difficult about The Dukes of Hazzard; it truly is just two good ole' boys, never meanin' no harm.
This court finds those darned Duke boys to be guilty of two-dozen crimes from assaulting a police officer, to reckless driving to grand theft auto, but heck, we're not going to bother puttin' 'em in jail, cause they'll just break out and do it again anyway!
Review content copyright © 2006 Cynthia Boris; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 822 Minutes
Release Year: 1979
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* A Tribute to Waylon Jennings
* Behind-the-scenes-look at the making of a new Music Video
* Good 'Ol Boys Music Video featuring John Schneider, Tom Wopat and Catherine Bach
* Warner Bros. Offical Site
* Cooter's Place