Judge Paul Corupe wore Daisy Dukes once, but it was only once, a long time ago, and he doesn't like to talk about it.
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!
Facts of the Case
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
• Double Dukes
• Diamonds in the Rough
• Coltrane vs. Duke
• The Fugitive
• The Great Bank Robbery
• Sadie Hogg Day
• 10 Million Dollar Sheriff Part 1
• 10 Million Dollar Sheriff Part 2
• Trouble at Cooter's
• Goodbye, General Lee
• Cletus Falls in Love
• Hughie Hogg Strikes Again
• Dukescam Scam
• The Sound of Music—Hazzard Style
• Shine on Hazzard Moon
• Pin the Tail on the Dukes
• Miz Tisdale on the Lam
• Nothin' But the Truth
• Dear Diary
• New Deputy in Town
• Birds Gotta Fly
• Bad Day in Hazzard
• Miss Tri-Counties
• Share and Share Alike
• The Law and Jesse Duke
• Dukes in Danger
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.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• Commentary with Tom Wopat, John Schneider, and Catharine Bach
Review content copyright © 2005 Paul Corupe; Site design and review layout copyright © 2015 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.