The Dukes of Hazzard follows the adventures of "The Duke Boys", cousins Bo Duke (John Schneider) and Luke Duke (Tom Wopat), who live in a rural part of the fictional Hazzard County, Georgia, with their attractive cousin Daisy (Catherine Bach) and their wise old Uncle Jesse (Denver Pyle). They race around in their customized 1969 Dodge Charger stock car, dubbed (The) General Lee, evading crooked county commissioner Boss Hogg (Sorrell Booke) and his inept county sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (James Best), and always managing to get caught in the middle of the various escapades and incidents that often occur in the area. Bo and Luke had previously been sentenced to probation for illegal transportation of moonshine; their Uncle Jesse made a plea bargain with the U.S. Government to stop brewing moonshine in exchange. As a result, Bo and Luke are not allowed to carry firearms — instead, they often use compound bows, sometimes with arrows tipped with dynamite — or to leave Hazzard County, although the exact details of their probation terms vary from episode to episode. Sometimes it is implied that they would be jailed for merely crossing the county line; on other occasions, it is shown that they may leave Hazzard, as long as they are back within a certain time limit. Several other technicalities of their probation also came into play at various times.

 

The series was developed from the 1975 B movie Moonrunners. Created by Gy Waldron in collaboration with ex-moonshiner Jerry Rushing, this movie shares many identical and very similar names and concepts with the subsequent TV series. Although itself essentially a comedy, this original movie was much cruder and edgier than the family-friendly TV series that would evolve from it.

 

In 1977, Waldron was approached by Warner Bros. with the idea of developing Moonrunners into a television series. Waldron reworked various elements from Moonrunners, and from it was devised what would become The Dukes of Hazzard. Production began in late October / early November 1978, originally with the intention of just nine episodes being produced, to be used as mid-season filler. The first five episodes were filmed in Covington and Conyers, Georgia and surrounding areas, including some location work in nearby Atlanta. Although most of the familiar Dukes elements are present in these initial early episodes, these first five stories feature a noticeably different tone from the rest of the series, including some more adult-oriented humor, with some raunchier elements and slightly coarser language; several of the characters, noticeably those of Rosco and Cooter, are also given different interpretation to their more recognized roles. After completing production on the fifth episode, "High Octane", the cast and crew broke for Christmas break, expecting to return in several weeks' time to complete the ordered run of episodes. In the meantime, executives at Warner Bros. were impressed by the rough preview cuts of the completed episodes and saw potential in developing the show into a full-running series; part of this plan was to move production from Georgia to the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California, primarily to simplify production as well as develop a larger workshop to service the large number of automobiles needed for the series..

 

Rushing appeared as shady used car dealer Ace Parker in the third episode produced, "Repo Men" (the fourth to be broadcast). Rushing believed this to be the start of a recurring role, in return for which he would supply creative ideas from his experiences: many of the Dukes (and thus Moonrunners) characters and situations were derived from Rushing's experiences as a youth, and much of the character of Bo Duke he states to be based on him. However, "Repo Men" would turn out to be the character's only appearance in the entire show's run, leading to a legal dispute in the following years over the rights to characters and concepts between Rushing and Warner Bros., although he remained on good terms with cast and crew and in recent years has made appearances at several fan conventions.

 

By the end of the first (half) season, the family-friendly tone of The Dukes of Hazzard was very much in place. When the show returned for a second season in Fall 1979 (its first full season), with a few further minor tweaks, the show quickly found its footing as a family-friendly comedy-adventure series. By the third season, starting in Fall 1980, the template was well set in place for that which would be widely associated with the show.

 

As well as its regular car chases, jumps and stunts, The Dukes of Hazzard relied on character familiarity, with each character effectively serving the same role within a typical episode, and with Deputy Cletus replacing Deputy Enos in Seasons 3 and 4, and Coy and Vance Duke temporarily replacing Bo and Luke (due to a salary dispute) in Season 5, being the only major cast changes through the show's run (Ben Jones and James Best both left temporarily during the second season due to different disputes with producers, but both returned within a couple of episodes). Of the characters, only Uncle Jesse and Boss Hogg appeared in all 145 episodes; Daisy appears in all but one, the third season's "To Catch a Duke". The General Lee also appears in all but one (the early first season episode "Mary Kaye's Baby", the fourth to be produced and the third broadcast).

 

The Dukes of Hazzard Series Preimere Promo 1979 CBS

Roads back to early Hazzard

Early CBS promo's