THE NEW DUKES
When Bo and Luke leave Hazzard to race on the NASCAR circuit, Uncle Jesse recruits two more cousins, Coy and Vance, to replace them. At the same time, Boss uses a huge armoured vehicle to rob various banks.
Even in the middle of the fourth season slump, where unsatisfying episode's often played week after week, audiences still tuned in to enjoy the chemistry between the leading actors; and the hope that storylines would soon improve. With the departure of Bo and Luke, their replacements needed to be actors of the highest calibre with personalities to match, in order to have any chance of keeping the fans interested. Unfortunately, in this episode (as in most of the others this season) Byron Cherry and Christopher Meyer exude the acting skills of an Oak Tree and the sparkling personality of a Toothbrush. In fact, the speed at which their lack of charm manifests itself is quicker than the General at full throttle. Perhaps if they'd been allowed to assume different personalities from Bo and Luke, they just might have had an outside chance; but they are straight-jacketed as clones from the word go (apparently on orders from the producers, who would not allow them to develop). Only occasionally in Season Five would they be able to lift themselves above the material.
As for the rest of the episode; it’s Paul Baxley. So you know it's going to be fast moving and exciting. And Enos' return is a real shot-in-the-arm.
ROSCO MOMENT He looks distinctly uncomfortable around Coy and Vance, as indeed do the other regular cast members. Their efforts to exude cheerful bonhomie around the new arrivals all seem rather strained and not a little uncomfortable.
BEST STUNT There is plenty of action here, at least! Loads to choose from (the new Duke's arrival is stunning), but the explosive leap over the Mean Green Machine is the best of the lot.
DUKES STRIKE IT RICH
The Dukes fake a discovery of Gold in order to give Boss a comeuppance.
An uncomfortably self-conscious performance from the new Dukes renders the whole episode rather painful to watch, as all the other regular characters exude an implausibly hearty bonhomie in their presence, which you know has to be false.
Vance Duke has developed a persona of sorts, which involves him taking off his shirt and sticking his chest out as often as possible.
Other than that, there are no discernable character traits evident in either of the replacements; but they both look inordinately gleeful most of the time, in an entirely unconvincing fashion.
To compensate (here and in every subsequent episode) the stunt budget appears to have increased. Before, there was generally a chase scene every ten minutes or so; now, three minutes seems to be the limit. As a result, the episode is big, fast and furious. But it's painfully empty stuff.
BEST STUNT The General's jump at the end. The location makes it more interesting than the usual 'pond-jumping'.
LAWMAN OF THE YEAR
Rosco applies for the award of Lawman of the Year, exactly at the moment that Boss engineers a robbery.
When Denver Pyle handled the directorial chores, he was either very, very good; or very, very bad. In this instance, it’s decidedly the latter! This is probably the worst episode of the seven seasons. Not because it features a ludicrous story, or silly use of special effects (as would happen in the seventh season); but because he appears to have so soundly missed every possible target for comedy and thrills. Surely, a Rosco episode ought to be a 'no-fail' opportunity? But James Best's heart just doesn't seem to be in it and his 'comedy' scenes are obvious and flat. The new Dukes are still as stiff as a board; that whole lengthy sequence in the shed serves no real purpose; and the episode's one piece of stunt footage is stolen from an earlier show.
Undoubtedly, the most disappointing installment in the seven year run. Just the sort of thing, in fact, to drive away even the most loyal fans.
ROSCO MOMENT There should be so many, but there are none; although the 'helping the little old lady across the road' gag probably looked funnier in the script.
BEST STUNT One piece of re-used footage. There is nothing else.
COY MEETS GIRL
A young runaway develops a crush for Coy, but at the same time is on the run from crooks.
Considering that the two replacements were ordered to play their roles in the manner of their predecessors, Byron Cherry must be admired all the more for daring to step outside the rules and attempt an interpretation of Coy that actually gives him his own unique character; in his case, an intrepid but somewhat naive and little-boyish type. It's an affecting creation and you can see what it is that Bobby Lee sees in him, particularly as Coy seems to imply that he isn't ready yet to fall in love. Ahhhh!
This is a thoroughly likeable episode and you yearn for more time to become acquainted with this likeable new Duke; but the producers apparently had no confidence in Cherry's ability (what an awful snub that must have been!) and attempt to load the episode with so much slapstick, stunts and pyrotechnics (most of it, quite at odds with the sweet little story) that poor old Coy never really has much of a chance.
Full marks for the brave attempt, though. Certainly one of the finer episodes and a glimpse of what could have been.
ROSCO MOMENT His experience with the Lobster is unexpected and funny.
BEST STUNT The encounter with Mollasses is different and surprisingly spectacular!
THE HAZZARDGATE TAPE
The Dukes come to the rescue of Boss, whose life is threatened by rival bosses.
A standard action yarn, no better or worse than any other.
It would probably have had more energy if the original Duke cousins had been around for Boss to interact with, as Coy (particularly) and Vance are back to their usual wooden selves. The action is fine, however particularly the first big chase.
Don't bother with the concert finale; Mel Tillis is clearly miming.
ROSCO MOMENT Being stuck in a cupboard with Enos. Fortunately, Enos has a novel way of getting them out.
BEST STUNT The General rear-ends the crooks car and propels it up into the back of an empty Lorry.
Boss' dad comes to town and turns out to be more crooked than he is!
What this episode needed in order to be a winner was three things: Bo, Luke, Sorrell Booke playing his own father (as he did his own brother in "Baa, Baa, White Sheep”). It would have been funny, memorable and a fan-pleaser. Unfortunately, it has Coy, Vance and an elderly actor who bears no resemblance at all to Boss Hogg; subsequently making it hard to believe they could be related.
This was also Cletus' last episode. His departure was not announced; one week he was there, the next he was gone; which was rather cruel treatment of a long-established character.
BEST STUNT Vance's effort to remain with the General after it was stolen is a good example of brawn over brain; but it's the General's final flight that most impresses.
Vance's former girlfriend comes visiting, but she's harbouring a secret.
Vance has an appropriate choice in women, as his ex-flame Jenny is as dull a person as he is. In fact, to be perfectly frank, what the audience is being asked to empathise with in this particular episode is a woman they've never heard of, who used to have a relationship with someone they have no interest in. To cap it all, most of the action is a repeat of Rosco's shrinking car gag from "Mrs. Daisy Hogg". It was funny back then; it looks tired now.
The final kidnapping isn't bad, though. And at least the episode moves quickly.
ROSCO MOMENT He's not impressed with Boss' mishearing one of his favourite expressions: it's not "put the heel to the steel"!
BEST STUNT The opening jump is a winner.
The Dukes take on Boss' crooked horse betting racket.
This is a shamelessly enjoyable episode. Boss' scheme is one of his most devious; the 'out-of-town' villains are colourful; the new Dukes are kept pretty much in the background; and the episode is absolutely brimming with top-rank stunts and action sequences. Indeed, it may very well take the honours for 'most action-packed Dukes episode’; which is a considerable achievement.
You may well feel guilty at enjoying this, but enjoy it you certainly will!
ROSCO MOMENT Having the door slammed on him in mid-speech.
BEST STUNT Well, let’s see now. Rosco flies his Patrol Car through a "Rosco P. Coltrane says 'Drive carefully!' " Billboard; Eros’s car sends a road-mender flying into a pond; The General jumps Rosco's car, Enos does the same but ends up in a Tree; The General jumps a large creek; Enos flies his car through the air and lands it on top of a car transporter;’ Bull' jumps his car into a ravine; the General jumps over a farm; and Bull and Big Billie roll their car after it's hit by dynamite.
Take your pick!
ENOS IN TROUBLE
An event from Enos' past in the L.A.Police comes back to haunt him.
This was clearly a desperate attempt to create audience empathy by having an Enos storyline; but his interaction with the new Dukes fails utterly to convince. Even Paul Baxley seems to be having an off day. He handles the action sequences well(they are certainly the only reason for watching this one) but the attempts at drama fall completely flat. Once again, the audience is painfully reminded that it should be Bo and Luke helping out Enos, not the 'other two'.
BEST STUNT Again, there are no shortage of action sequences. Probably the winning entry is the thugs car not avoiding the Log.
THE GREAT INSURANCE FRAUD
Believing he has caused someone's death by reckless driving, Coy has a nervous breakdown. He's the victim of a cruel scam, however.
It's taken ten episodes(quite enough to lose a loyal following)but here at last is an honest to goodness classic!
Byron Cherry is finally allowed to develop his 'little boy lost' persona, which he does to the hilt; bravely taking Coy to places that Bo (his counterpart) would never have been able to go. The scenes of his slow descent into a silent world of dark depression (and the audience's knowledge that he's nothing more than a victim of a heartless Insurance fiddle) are poignant and touching. For the first time, a story-line is being developed around the characteristics of the new Dukes, instead of having them emulate the old ones; and it works tremendously well, allowing a type of storytelling and character development that had not previously been possible.
Regrettably, Vance is a disapointment; his 'He-man' portrayal is wooden, although it provides for some Bondian heroics in the Finale.
The Con-artists are well portrayed and Denver Pyle's direction and empathy toward Coy/Byron makes full amends for the mess he made with "Lawman of the year".
It's a shame that Rosco's clowning seems out of place. But it's interesting to see Boss being duped for once.
ROSCO MOMENT His destructive car chase at the start provides some much needed humoring compensation for the serious tone to come.
BEST STUNT Vance and the helicopter. What a tough guy!
A LITTLE GAME OF POOL
Uncle Jesse is duped into competing in a rigged Pool game and loses the Duke farm as a consequence.
So Uncle Jesse is an expert at Pool, is he? They'll be trying to convince us that Vance is an interesting person next!
And we've seen the inside of the Duke's Barn countless times and there's absolutely never been a Pool Table sitting there before. They’re big blue things, for heavens' sake; you can't miss them!
Overlook those minor points and you'll enjoy this one. It's funny, fast moving and involving; and often seems like old times.
Boss' scheme is a good one; and Chickasaw Thins (geddit?) is a smooth opponent.
ROSCO MOMENT He's at the wheel of the General and he tries to jump it over a Motor caravan. I love it, I love it!
BEST STUNT Once again, there are loads to choose from; but the sequence involving the Car Transporter is extremely well done.
THE TREASURE OF SOGGY MARSH
Everyone goes searching for a sunken treasure.
Just when the fifth season seemed to be finding its feet, along comes this horrible piece of old nonsense. A terrible story is accompanied by bland performances and implausible situations. Even Sheriff Little isn't fun to watch. The Finale is interesting, but the back-projection (always rather obvious) is laughable here.
BEST STUNT Coy flies the General into the water. It's actually a really good stunt; but as it comes at the very end of the episode, you’ll no doubt be asleep by then.
THE REVENGE OF HUGHIE HOGG
Hughie returns to Hazzard; this time with a scheme to oust Rosco and have him and his men take the Sheriff's place.
A perfectly respectable Hughie Hogg entry and a fairly feasible scheme. Once again, it is demonstrated that it's better the devil you know, as the Duke family readily come to Rosco's aid with a surprisingly strong show of support.
Lulu is put to good use, emphasising once again her familial connection and the action is well paced and occasionally quite spectacular. There's even one scene where Vance is so annoyed (by one of Hughie's henchmen) that he actually gratuitously punches him. Does this mean that he has a personality?
ROSCO MOMENT Only he could own a car that completely falls apart when you open the passenger door!
BEST STUNT Hughie's henchmen accidentally jump over the General. A real 'ouch!' moment.
THE RETURN OF THE MEAN, GREEN MACHINE
When Boss attempts to resurrect his secret weapon (from 'The New Dukes'), it’s hijacked by crooks, who also abduct Cooter and gets taken on an out-of-control rampage.
This is Paul Baxley's showcase episode. A non-stop catalogue of stunts and action set pieces, where plot takes a definite back seat.
Exploding cars; destruction of buildings; explosions galore; car-jumps even a slam-bang fight featuring Uncle Jesse!
It's also the least subtle of any episode so far, but almost seems to revel in that. Cooter gets a rather more prominent role than usual (he'd been noticeable by his absence for much of this season; a sign of his discontent?) and Vance gets to demonstrate his 'he-man' tendencies again, when he hangs on to the side of the Machine irregardless of the fact that it has spinning blades on its wheels, spurts sheets of flame and has a Heavy whacking at him with a loaded gun. It all gets a little too much when the General sprouts a satellite dish (masquerading as a radar scanner) on its roof; but it's a tremendous ride all the same.
ROSCO MOMENT When he fires the Bazooka, he neglects to notice that's it's pointing the wrong way and accidentally blasts out the rear half of his Patrol Car.
BEST STUNT The General (for the second time in the season) jumps the Machine.
DING, DONG, THE BOSS IS DEAD
Boss fakes his own death in order to get an old enemy off his back.
All the indications are that the producers fully intended this to be another classic. Sorrell Booke gives a marvelous performance; Rosco figures prominently; there’s another slapstick moment in the same vein as Rosco's 'stretcher predicament' from "Coltrane Vs. Duke”; broad comedy and loads of impressive action.
However, it doesn't really work; mainly due to the wooden and unconvincing presence of the new Dukes, who still fail to convince (not necessarily a fault on their part). It's a good laugh (particularly the 'lying in state' sequence, where Jesse attempts to give a eulogy, but is understandably lost for words), but comedy was not Cherry and Meyer's forte (even when they were on form) and you can't help wondering how much better it all would have been had Bo and Luke been there instead.
If you want a good laugh, however, notice how Vance stares appreciatively at Lorna's breasts!
ROSCO MOMENT His guzzling a sandwich in Boss' face while he's lying in state is brilliant. He'd clearly been looking forward to that moment for years!
BEST STUNT The General jumping the Barn is most impressive (and would be repeated, on numerous occasions, with different camera angles throughout the remainder of the series)
COY VS. VANCE
When Coy falls in love with a beautiful stunt-rider (with a mysterious past), it causes a rift between him and Vance.
similar to "Carnival of thrills" (of which, this is a potted version)
this feels like another attempt to 'serious up' the storylines. Indeed, Cherry
does his usual good job at giving Coy depth of
character; but you never feel anything like as involved as you did when Bo and
Luke developed a similar rift. Only the fight between the two cousins in the
Sorrell Booke (in his Directorial debut) at least succeeds in keeping the action buzzing along nicely.
Perhaps the feeling of retrospection was forgiveable, as this was also the 100th episode of the series.
BEST STUNT Lots and lots, but Enos' Patrol car crashing down from a great height onto a small fishing boat (with the Fisherman jumping out at the last moment) is spectacular indeed.
When a Russian gymnast decides to defect,it's up to the Dukes to protect her.
A truly ghastly and patronizing episode. It may seem a little odd that a semi-dictatorship (albeit a good humoured and benign one)such as Hazzard County would be so desired by a Russian athlete,but then again such defections were indeed commonplace at the time this episode was made.Nonetheless,this remains a distasteful and over-simplified political flag-waver;something that should never intrude on a family series such as The Dukes. And the villainous Russian stereotypes are insulting. Presumably,if the episode were to be re-made today,the heavies would all be dumb Arabs?
Despite all of this, the character of Natasha is appealing (Dawn Jeffory gives a convincing performance) and Byron Cherry is once again given a chance to stretch himself (physically - that back-flip is rather impressive), as well as creatively.
BEST STUNT The Russian's rolling their car.
WITNESS: JESSE DUKE
While attempting to prevent an armed gang from robbing a bank, Jesse is physically assaulted and loses his sight.
What a shame that audience's had pretty much tuned out of the series by now, as this is one of the finest episodes they ever made.
The situation that Jesse finds himself in is believable and (when the robbers come looking for him) surprisingly suspenseful.
Denver Pyle's performance is wonderful; Cathy Bach is credibly upset in the role of Daisy; and even Christopher Meyer is allowed to act for once (instead of strut) as Vance. This is perfect, well thought-out storytelling; with the spectacular action never eclipsing the character's personal dilemmas. This is just the episode to show to all those who deride the Coy and Vance era. Yes, the episodes were never as fun to watch as the Bo and Luke stories, but they still produced some of the best shows of the series.
Without a doubt, Coy and Vance's finest hour.
ROSCO MOMENT Describing Jesse's blindness as 'having your eye-balls scuffed'. Tactless, accurate and hilarious at the same time.
BEST STUNT The Train jump is actually a clever use of previously seen footage, but skillfully edited together. However, the General's jump over the length of the lorry (and Enos' attempt to emulate it) is the real deal!
WELCOME BACK, BO AND LUKE
winning the NASCAR
To say that the return of the original Duke Boy's is a triumph (let alone a blessed relief) would be an extreme understatement. The moment when they enter the Boars Nest (and their later drive through Hazzard Square) is one of the classic images of the series and one in which even the most reticent Duke's fan must have felt like hugging the TV Screen. If this episode had been your standard Hazzard storyline, it would have been a success; as it is, it’s a beautifully written and performed tale and the combination of Bo and Luke and great storytelling makes for a classic episode. It's rather a shame that Coy and Vance are so swiftly written out of the scenario (after all, the actors had done their very best under the circumstances) but it's clear that the producers wanted everything to return to the old scenario just as fast as possible.
Also of particular merit here is Ben Jones' performance as Cooter. This is a characterisation of depth; and the crisis that Cooter is suffering from presumably explains the character's comparative absence over the fifth season. His 'rescue' by Bo and Luke is a brilliant way to re-introduce them into the series and is completely involving.
All in all, this is a triumphant moment in Duke history and a classic episode.
ROSCO MOMENT Finding Daisy's underwear and getting all excited! Rosco; how could you?
BEST STUNT Rosco and Enos' double jump into the lake. Extremely graceful.
BIG BROTHERS, DUKE
When Bo and Luke temporarily adopt a teenage Orphan, they find themselves in a whole lot of trouble.
A curious choice of story for Bo and Luke's first complete episode after their return, as it's terribly slow-moving and (although warm-hearted) fails to involve anything like as much as it should. Clearly a way of appeasing Schneider and Wopat, who had left the series partly due to the poor quality of the storylines. Denver Pyle handles the character side of things rather well, but (aside from a splendid opening sequence) a little action wouldn't have gone amiss.
A good try, but not the sort of thing to bring the viewers flooding back.
BEST STUNT Bo's leap from the top of the van onto the General's roof. Slick and potentially very dangerous.
Forced to leave their Farm by a conniving Boss Hogg and a crooked property developer, Bo and Luke discover that most of the county is about to be turned into one large strip-mine.
Now this is more like it! A cracking tale of corporate greed; character torment (poor old Uncle Jesse, after losing the Farm); loss of valued posessions; femme fatales; and helicopters attempting to land on top of speeding cars.
If the first half of the episode concentrates on character conflicts (and very well, too) the second part devotes itself to action; quite superbly! This story is one of the best examples of an episode where everything pulls together in just the proper proportion.
ROSCO MOMENT Throwing the Red Carpet at Boss.
BEST STUNT The General flying through the air directly toward the Helicopter is incredible (as is the attempt of the Helicopter to land on it's roof) and its climactic crash is marvelous. However, the honours must go to Enos spinning his car through the air and landing upside down on the roof of the villains automobile; brilliant!
DAISY'S SHOTGUN WEDDING
Daisy leaves the farm, searching independence. Unfortunately, a backwoods hillbilly family kidnaps her in order to force her into marriage with one of their clan.
A surprisingly seedy story, with several characters seemingly straight out of 'Deliverence'. This actually works well for the most part, as the Daisy storyline is sweet and quite involving. The Beaudry's are a terrific invention (their ineptness just about keeping them unthreatening) and the most comically wicked Villains encountered so far. (The decision to bring them back in the sixth season was very wise). The scene with the Preacher (a wonderful Dennis Fimple, who seemed to specialise in such characters) is a clever mixture of comedy, suspense and repulsion.
Unfortunately, despite being a Paul Baxley episode, this just isn't very exciting. Gripping and involving, undoubtedly; but there's little action. What the series needed to be sure of keeping it's returning viewers was a slam-bang action finale to the last episode, as the icing on the Cake. Unfortunately, it isn't there. Which leaves a very palatable cake nonetheless, but one that isn't quite sweet enough!
ROSCO MOMENT Trying to chase after two Microlite's in his Patrol car is just asking for trouble!
BEST STUNT The fight in the Boar's Nest is exceptionally well done (Paul Baxley having a ball!). However, it’s not often you see a 'Microlite crash’; and this one looks good and makes a decent change from the norm.