The Dukes of Hazzard: How it All Began

One of those TV shows that have a distinct 1970s feel to it is The Dukes of Hazzard. A simple story about a family standing up against corrupt people in their community, this comedy series provided light and family-friendly fun on TV from 1979 to 1985. Up to this day, it enjoys a strong following from fans in America and beyond. What is this show all about, and what made it such a treat to watch?

This show was inspired by the 1975 movie Moonrunners. CBS and Warner Brothers saw the potential of such a movie to be successful as a TV show, but they wanted it to be more family-friendly. At first it was intended to be just a mid-season filler, but while filming the show, Warner Brothers saw potential in making The Dukes of Hazzard a full-time series. As such, more episodes were filmed. By 1979, they were able to set a full identity which helped them succeed in the ratings.

One of the things that helped them succeed is character familiarity. And the main characters there are consistent, with most of them appearing in virtually every episode made in the series. The 2 main heroes in the show are the cousins Luke and Bo Duke, played by Tom Wopat and John Schneider. Scheming while driving their Dodge Charger nicknamed General Lee, they are essentially the life of the show. Jesse Duke (known better as Uncle Jesse), portrayed by Denver Pyle, is the patriarch of the Duke clan and a fierce rival of Boss Hogg. Daisy Duke (portrayed by Catherine Bach) is Luke and Bo’s hot cousin, and provides most of the racy and provocative beats of the show. Boss Hogg (Sorrell Booke) is the wealthy and greedy county commissioner that would end up going against the Dukes in a lot of episodes. And Rosco Coltrane (James Best) is the sheriff of Hazzard County. The right-hand man of Boss Hogg, he had a lot of encounters with the Dukes.

One of the things that made The Dukes of Hazzard successful (and eventually the thing that probably went against it in the end) is script familiarity. A lot of their episodes share a common formula. The Dukes would either get themselves in trouble or Boss Hogg/Rosco would do some dastardly scheme. The Dukes would find a way (often accomplishing it in a wacky way) to get out of the mess, often doing it with a stunt involving their car General Lee. And while this formula had its share of detractors, it provided more than its fair share of good, clean fun. Because of this fact alone, people young and old remember this show fondly.

For certain, this show is definitely imperfect. Even the actors themselves admit this fact in some way. But one endearing fact about this show is it stuck to its strengths all the way, and they got a lot of supporters because of it. Looking back on how fondly this show is still received up to this day, it’s easy to see that The Dukes of Hazzard is still a very successful TV franchise.

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