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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Dukes of Hazzard - The Complete First Season
The Dukes of Hazzard - The Complete First Season
Warner Bros. // Unrated // June 1, 2004
List Price: $39.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted June 1, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Movie:

For those who don't know, Bo and Luke Duke (John Schneider and Tom Wopat respectively) were two cousins living with their Uncle Jesse (Denver Pyle) and their insanely hot cousin Daisy (Catharine Bach). Every week from 1979 until the show's demise in 1985, kids like me thrilled to their adventures as they drove around in fancied up Dodge Charger called The General Lee and stopped the corrupt Boss Hog and his cronies from doing wrong to the citizens of Hazzard County. Every once in a while, just before the commercial breaks in each episode, Waylon Jennings (who also did the show's instantly recognizable theme song) would chime in with some insight, just to make sure you didn't go changing the channel on his pals.

While the show very quickly went down hill after Bo and Luke were replaced by Coy and Vance Duke, the first few seasons were quality TV viewing and it warms my frigid little heart to finally have the first season of the show (which originally aired in 1979) available on DVD.

Episode 1 – One-Armed Bandits: The premiere episode finds that Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane is smuggling slot machines into Hazzard County. Daisy, with the help of Bo and Luke, decides to make sure that the proceeds from this illegal gambling operation go to the local orphanage.

Episode 2 – Daisy's Song: Daisy gets taken by a fly by night music publishing company when her song gets her some attention in the local country music circuit. Turns out that none other than Boss Hog is in on this scam, and that the FBI aren't too far behind him.

Episode 3 – Mary Kaye's Baby: When Bo and Luke hear from their old friend Mary Kaye and find out that she is with child, they're only too happy to help her out. Things get a little complicated though when they find out that she's actually carrying a whole lot of money stolen from the mob. When Rosco finds out that the car the Duke boys are driving has got a load of moonshine in it, he makes it his business to chase'em down and put'em away.

Episode 4 – Repo Men: A gang of counterfeiters talks the Duke boys into working as repo men for them. When they find out it's actually a scheme, their probation could be on the line - especially when the local authorities get involved.

Episode 5 – High Octane: Leave it to Uncle Jesse to figure out a way to reduce pollution by brewing up some quality hooch that is able to power engines without contributing to the damage already done to the environment. He even wins a contest with it and takes home the $10,000 grand prize. Too bad that Boss Hog is after Jesse's brew and that the IRS is after his money.

Episode 6 – Swamp Molly: Uncle Jesse's old bootlegging buddy, Swamp Molly, wants to make one last run for old times' sake. She figures that since she helped Jesse avoid going to jail back in 1938 that he'll be happy to help her out. Things seem simple enough until it turns out that Rosco and Boss Hog are hot on their moonshine running tails.

Episode 7 – Luke's Love Story: Amy is the first woman to ever enter the Hazzard Obstacle Derby – a highly dangerous race that also happens to be against the law. Luke falls for her head over heels and things start looking good, but Luke doesn't like the fact that if he goes with her he won't be chase the other girls around town. Boss Hog needs to win the race though, so he gets Enos to drive for him and blackmails Cooter into trying to crash the other racers off the course.

Episode 8 – The Big Heist: A while back, Boss Hog scammed a man by the name of Neil Bishop on a moonshine deal. Well, turns out that Neil is none too keen on being ripped off by the fat man, so he comes back and robs him blind. Rosco has Neil's car towed while all this is going on though, so Neil steals The General Lee, framing the Duke boys for his crime.

Episode 9 – Limo One Is Missing: When special agents drive the President's limo into Hazzard County for a stop at The Boar's Nest, Cooter hot wires it and stashes it in the Dukes' garage after it runs out of fuel. This doesn't look too good on the boys, so they try and set things right.

Episode 10 – Deputy Dukes: Rosco deputizes our heroes so that they can help him transport a dangerous criminal, Rocky Marlowe, from nearby Springville to Hazzard where he needs to stand trial. Of course, Rocky's gang springs him on the way and the Duke boys have to take him back in, just in time for the trail to begin.

Episode 11 – Route 7-11: Boss Hog has a million dollars in old bills stashed at his bank and scheduled for destruction, but he hopes to pocket the money instead. He sets Bo and Luke up as scapegoats when his armored car is robbed on the way to the reserve.

Episode 12 - Money To Burn: The Duke boys take a job driving a big rig until they can raise the money to get The General Lee repaired. Turns out that the truck they're driving is actually a casino on wheels. It also happens that the games are rigged and that Uncle Jesse's best friend is getting swindled.

Episode 13 – Double Sting: The last episode of the season finds Bo and Luke in hot water after getting into a brawl with a gent named Tom Colt at The Boar's Nest. All three of them end up in jail, and when the local doctor thinks that Tom has the plague, he quarantines the building and everyone in it. When two guys in Laurel and Hardy outfits rob Boss Hog's bank, it's up to Daisy to stop them and get the loot back.

The DVD

Video:

The show was shot and composed for TV as we all know, so it shouldn't surprise anyone to see it presented here in its original fullframe aspect ratio. As far as the transfers go, it is a mixed bag. Some episodes fair better than others, but a few have got quite a bit of minor print damage present throughout. While this is to be expected on a show that's over two decades old, the real problem is the edge enhancement and the aliasing that is noticeable throughout, giving quite a few scenes a shimmering effect that is mildly distracting. It's not all bad though – print detail is high and colors look good, while black levels remain pretty stable. So while it's not perfect, it is at least watchable and realistically looks as good as I'd figured it would.

Sound:

All thirteen episodes are presented as they were originally broadcast, which is in Dolby Digital Mono. There's the odd snap crackle and pop on the soundtrack but overall it is pretty clean sounding. Levels are well balanced and there's a bit of lower front-end action in a few scenes that I hadn't expected but was pleasantly surprised by. Not much to complain about here, really. It's a good mono soundtrack with clear dialogue and well balanced levels.

Extras:

The first disc contains a commentary track over the first episode, One-Armed Bandits from Catharine Bach and John Schneider. It's a fun track, and listening to the two stars reminiscing about their experiences on the show and on this episode is a lot of fun. Too bad this is the only commentary on the entire set, as I enjoyed it.

The rest of the extra features are on the third and final disc of the set. The Twentieth Anniversary Hazzard County Barbecue is a look back at the series that runs about thirty minutes and features more from Schneider and Bach as well as James Best (Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane), Ben Jones (who played Cooter) and a few others. It's a pretty entertaining peek at the people who made the show happen and fans of the show are more than likely to really dig this piece.

Dukes Driving 101: A High Octane Salute is a short tribute to the stunt driving on the show by way of some interviews with famous Nascar drivers like Rusty Wallace and Matt Kenseth. It was interesting to hear about their takes on the stunts, considering these guys are out there doing it professionally.

Wrapping up the supplements is an advance preview of The Dukes Of Hazzard – Return Of The General Lee, which is an upcoming video game that resurrects the characters in digital form.

Final Thoughts:

Even if I realize that a big portion of my enjoyment of this set came from the nostalgia factor alone, I can't help but highly recommend The Dukes Of Hazzard – The Complete First Season, even if the video quality left a little to be desired. Sure, it's hokey and sure, it reused a lot of the same car jumping footage over and over again, but dangnabbit it's a whole lot of fun that is worth rediscovering on DVD and this set is the perfect way to do it.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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