As someone who was not particularly a fan of “The Dukes of Hazzard” growing up, I had forgotten the ridiculously popular CBS TV series had spun off into its own Saturday morning cartoon, titled simply “The Dukes.” Warner Archive now offers both seasons — all 20 episodes — on a manufactured-on-demand four-disc set. Unlike many other Warner Archive releases, the actual DVDs don’t feature generic art, but graphics of the main characters.
Because the voices of those characters are provided by those who played them in the live-action show, “The Dukes” has less of a “rip-off” feel than other animated fare of the era that existed only to sell toys. In the first 13 eps, the Dukes are actually the shark-jumping cousins, Coy and Vance (Byron Cherry and Christopher Mayer); Bo and Luke (John Schneider and Tom Wopat) take over at the starter of the shorter season two.
“Them Duke boys” and curvaceous cousin Daisy (Catherine Hogg) drive the General Lee in a race around the world to save the family farm from bad ol’ Boss Hogg (Sorrell Booke) and Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane (James Best). Each episode finds them in a different country, such as Morocco, Switzerland or Hong Kong. (Hey, how does the General Lee cross all those oceans?)
Because the show uses the different locations to its visual advantage, I suppose you can say it’s at least a tad educational. Maybe many a child learned world geography this way. Or maybe they were too distracted by the “cute” raccoon, Smokey (a dig at Burt Reynolds’ “Hazzard”-esque film franchise?) to notice. Yes, every 1980s cartoon had to have a “funny” animal hanging out with the humans — weren’t the “Hazzard” characters of Enos and Cooter, who don’t appear at all, cartoonish enough already?
Although this is a Hanna-Barbera production, the animation is not up to the snuff of the brand’s more notable classics, but at least its car chases burst with bright colors. I could do without the laugh track, though. And I may be nearly 40 years old, but Daisy Duke is hot even as a ‘toon. —Rod Lott