It’s surprising the number of shows that went from prime time television to cartoons during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Gilligan’s Planet, Laverne & Shirley, Mork and Mindy, Happy Days and Punky Brewster are all examples I can recall being short-term Saturday morning staples from my youth. Oddly enough, I have no recollection of The Dukes, which was based on The Dukes of Hazzard, one of my favorite shows as a youngster. Despite following the exploits of the Duke boys and their cousin Daisy on a weekly basis and Monday to Friday reruns, somehow this 1983 cartoon passed me by like the General Lee zooming down a country back road. But the nostalgic Pandora’s box just had to be opened. Through the magic of DVD, The Dukes has been unleashed upon the world once again and my cartoon nostalgia fixes will never be the same again.
Beau and Luke must be back in Hazzard County as the majority of episodes in The Dukes focus on Coy and Vance, the step-in Duke cousins that took the reigns of the regular show for a short time while stars John Schneider and Tom Wopat sat out for new contracts. The prime time experiment was a miserable failure and the animated spin doesn’t fare any better. Coy and Vance were around for the first 13 episodes, while Beau and Luke make their triumphant return for the final seven shows.
Coy, Vance and Daisy have graduated from running moonshine and terrorizing Boss Hogg and Hazzard’s sheriff, Rosco P. Coltrane, around the dusty Southern streets. They’ve gone global, running in races and terrorizing Boss Hogg and Rosco on the global stage. Each episode takes the General Lee to another corner of the world as the Dukes compete to raise money to once again save their beloved Uncle Jesse’s farm.
Cheesy plot lines and easy, stereotypical portrayals often make The Dukes unbearable to watch. Each spot the Dukes visit, they visit plain characters who are defined largely by their country’s icons. For example, in Australia you have a kangaroo trainer. Simple nostalgia for all things Dukes of Hazzard is about all it has going for the show, which lasted a merciful 20 episodes. Like a lot of Hanna-Barbera cartoons from the era, the animation isn’t exactly stellar either.
The Dukes is one of those shows perhaps best left as an episodic bonus feature for one of the season sets for the live action show. In retrospect, The Dukes of Hazzard isn’t exactly Shakespeare or French New Wave either, but at least wasn’t endlessly annoying. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for their animated incarnations.
The Dukes: The Complete Series DVD Review
The Dukes: The Complete Series is a four-disc set released by the Warner Brothers print-to-order line, Warner Archive. The collection includes all 20 episodes in the series with a tidy full screen picture. Like other Warner Archive titles, there aren’t any bonus features.
James Best Autographs Available With “The Dukes”
Warner Archives has announced that the first 400 copies of their upcoming release of The Dukes: The Complete Series will be autographed by James Best, who played Roscoe P. Coltrane.
The Dukes was a short-lived cartoon based on The Dukes of Hazzard that aired for just one season. Like all Warner Archives releases, discs are printed to order and aren’t available in stores.
The Dukes is slated for release on December 7. The four-disc set can be pre-ordered here.
The Dukes Gallery