The television series "Dukes of Hazzard" debuted in the fall of 1978 as a replacement show for the cancelled "Incredible Hulk." Shows in the late '70s and early '80s needed two vital ingredients: a fast car and at least two good-looking men or women.
Dukes of Hazzard was a spin-off of sorts from the film "Moon Runners." The adaptation of that movie and the Dukes are very similar in the premise; essentially the only thing that changed was the names. This was a show based in the south and based around southern roots.
Critics hated Dukes with a passion. The critics they felt it was too honky-tonk and lowbrow. The fans of the show, though, saw things differently than the critics.
The first five episodes were filmed in Georgia. The rest of filming was moved to California, against the protests of Ben Jones, who played auto mechanic Cooter Davenport. There was a little controversy with the show because of the confederate flag that was painted on the roof of a bright orange '69 Dodge Charger named General Lee. There was a little tie-in to NASCAR because the car was built as a race car with number 01 on the door.
Dukes had something for everybody. It had family values, handsome men and pretty women. Kids loved the car. The car chases and stunts were like magic. The General Lee would do spectacular jumps. The opening credits show the General jumping over a patrol car. In one scene, the car sets a world record by jumping over 100 feet in distance and several feet in the air.
Sorrell Booke played Boss Hogg, who was like the mayor of the city of Hazzard. His official title was Commissioner Hogg. He was somewhat of a corrupt politician, along with the sheriff, Roscoe P. Coltrane, who was played by James Best. Their characters were like the Laurel and Hardy of the show.
Actor Denver Pyle played Jessie Duke. Jessie was the matriarch of the Duke family. Bo and Luke Duke, played by Tom Wopat and John Schneider, were the handsome cousins who drove the General Lee. They were cousins to Daisy, played by Catharine Bach. Jessie raised them from the time they were kids. One thing that was not explained was why Jessie ended up raising the three cousins. People always wondered about the back story of what happened to their parents.
Even though there were guns and guns being fired, nobody ever got shot during the series. Only two episodes showed a little bit of blood. People wonder how many Charger and police cars were used throughout the show. It is estimated that 321 General Lee Chargers and nearly 600 police cars were used to film the show. That's two to three Chargers and nearly six police cars per episode!
The General Lee car was looked at as the star of the show. It was the signature of the show. The 01 represented three things. It was the fastest car in Hazzard and was never beaten in a race. The 01 stood for family being first. This was really the last show that you could leave your kids by themselves to watch and not worry about what they were going to see.