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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Dukes movie: not the Hazzard I used to know

August 10, 2005
by Jennifer Squires Biller

Yee-haw, y’all.

Forgive me. I just saw The Dukes of Hazzard movie, and I’m fondly reminiscing about one of my favorite childhood television shows.

For those of you who’ve never seen the original TV series, I’m begging you to forget what you saw at the movie theater, and check out the reason I enjoyed staying home on Friday nights, during my pathetic junior high years.

CMT is showing the original Duke boys and their legendary shenanigans in Hazzard County every weeknight at 7 p.m. I think you’ll love it as much as Boss Hogg loves white suits, cigars, and carbs. Surprisingly, it’s still funny after all these years.

As for the movie version, it was a disappointment. The film wasn’t true to the spirit of the TV show or the sweet characters. The Uncle Jesse I remember never would have dreamed of smoking the wacky weed with the governor. And movie Bo’s weird obsession with the General Lee was beyond cartoonish, as was Luke’s gigolo ways.

Bo and Luke were rebel heroes. Not idiots. Adding insult to injury, not even one of the original cast members had a cameo in the film. In the long-ago words of Rosco P. Coltrane, someone should “cuff ‘em and stuff ‘em” for that travesty.

Sure, the movie had the trademark Dukes freeze frames and the clever narration. But, without the comforting voice of Waylon Jennings, it rang empty. The TV show was a fun, family program about the “good ol’ boys” and the corrupt, silly government in the deep South. The movie isn’t that.

Since summer has little to offer in good television, unless you like reality shows, I urge you to check out the real Bo, Luke and Daisy on CMT. I’ll bet you’ll still chuckle when Rosco P. Coltrane announces “Good news, good news!” or when Enos makes eyes at Daisy. There’s something alluring about those ridiculous car chases and country bumpkins that makes you feel like a kid again.

Apparently, the rest of the nation can’t get enough of the Dukes either. CMT has been scoring incredible ratings with the repeats. (The network lured 23 million viewers when the show debuted in syndication.) And the movie was number one at the box office last weekend.

For those of you who love the show, check out the Web sites www.cootersplace.com and www.dukesonline.com. These online communities are a haven for Duke lovers. There is even an annual fan festival known as DukesFest. Cast members, the General Lee, and 40,000 people attended this year’s event. (Never underestimate the power of the Internet, the lure of a photo op with Cooter himself, and the commitment of die-hard Dukes fans.)

If you do catch the original series on CMT, be warned: it may take you back to your childhood, when CB radios were cool, and short shorts were the way to go.

This is Bo Peep to the Lost Sheep, over and out.

Originally published 8/10/05 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.


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