It was “Opening Night at the Boar’s Nest” thirty-four years ago when The Dukes of Hazzard aired its final episode on Friday, February 8, 1985. Co-written and directed by series star John Schneider – aka Bo Duke -, the episode finds Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (James Best) making his “little fat buddy” Jefferson Davis “J.D. Hogg (Sorrell Booke) the greatest disappearing act in the history of Hazzard. Five years ago on this day in 1980, the Dukes were on the road to “Find Loretta Lynn” when the country superstar was kidnapped by a wacky trio.
Created by Gy Waldron of Moonrunners, Dukes was a car-jumping, car-crashing smash hit that followed the (mis)adventures of cousins Bo and Luke Duke (Tom Wopat), two good ‘ole boys who never mean no harm. With the aid of wise old Uncle Jesse (Denver Pyle), sexy cousin Daisy (Catherine Bach), and their mechanic friend “Crazy Cooter” Davenport (Ben Jones), this pair of “One-Armed Bandits” fights the system against Boss Hogg and Sheriff Rosco as a two modern-day Robin Hood with their car known as “The General Lee”. Boss Hogg may wear the white suit, but it is the Dukes who are indeed the white hats for right, might and just.
Part-action comedy and part-Western, Dukes lasted seven successful seasons on CBS – including the fifth season with “The New Dukes” named Coy (Byron Cherry) and Vance (Christopher Mayer), who were a complete carbon copy of Bo and Luke, who left Hazzard to fulfilled their dreams of being NASCAR drivers. But like fans prefer Clayton Moore as The Lone Ranger than John Hart, fans couldn’t accept Coy and Vance, so after almost a season of negotiations, Wopat and Schneider returned to Hazzard as Bo and Luke in the spring of 1983, and Coy and Vance were gone. In other words? The General Lee wasn’t the real star of the show.
The Dukes of Hazzard drove the way for Knight Rider, The A-Team and Hardcastle & McCormick. The show also influenced TNT’s Leverage (2008-2012), the crime comedy-drama caper about a team of modern-day Robin Hoods living by the 3Rs – revenge, restitution, retribution – for one reason: bad guys makes the best good guys against the Boss Hoggs of the world. To illustrate: S1’s “The Bank Shot Job” and S3’s “The Studio Job” – the latter that guest-starred Schneider as a corrupt country music executive.
After forty years, The Dukes of Hazzardremains a good ‘ole time thanks to a couple of good ‘ole boys named Bo and Luke Duke, fighting the system like a two modern-day Robin Hood.