Friday, February 21, 2014

TV – Them Duke Boys!

That’s right! Them Duke boys are back, never meanin’ no harm and causing all manner of mayhem in Hazzard County. The Dukes of Hazzard returns to CMT weeknights at 8:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m.

The 1979-1985 CBS series – about cousins Bo, Luke, and Daisy Duke and their Uncle Jesse running afoul of the corrupt, corpulent Boss Hogg and his shifty-eyed, beagle-loving henchman, Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane – set the stage for the action-comedy adventure shows of the 1980s, such as Magnum P.I., The Greatest American Hero, Knight Rider, The A-Team, Simon and Simon, Matt Houston, and Remington Steele. The show’s single greatest contribution to the genre was gravity-defying car chases complete with multi-angled point-of-view shots: in front of the car, on top of the car, under the car, behind the car, behind the tires, etc. In fact, cars lifted off so often on the show that even the show’s narrator and theme song composer-performer, Waylon Jennings (“The Balladeer”), once proclaimed that “Hazzard is the only county that needs an air traffic controller for the cars.”

CMT first aired The Dukes of Hazzard back in 1997, when CMT was The Nashville Network (TNN). 1997 was a banner year for the classic show. Not only was the series airing every weeknight at 7:00 p.m., but the original cast had reunited for a major network television reunion movie appropriately titled The Dukes of Hazzard Reunion. The only cast member sorely missing from the reunion was the late Sorrell Booke, the criminal and curmudgeonly but cuddly and lovable Boss Hogg. Naturally, Sheriff Rosco took over for his former mentor and "little fat buddy" and was now Boss Rosco. The Dukes’ second and last reunion movie, Hazzard in Hollywood, aired in 2000.

I had the pleasure and honor of interviewing both John Schneider (Bo Duke) and Tom Wopat (Luke Duke) separately over the telephone for the occasion of the TNN reruns and the first reunion movie. I also wanted to interview James Best (Sheriff Rosco), but the CBS publicist wasn’t sure if he was still alive, so that was a lost opportunity. By the way, you had better head on over to James Best’s Web site,, and order an autographed copy of his autobiography before he really is gone. As Sheriff Rosco would say, “I love it, I love it, I love it! Kyugh, kyugh, kyugh!”

--Raj Manoharan

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