January 11, 2006

DVD Review: The Dukes of Hazzard - The Complete Seventh Season

Here it is, the one all you Dukes fans have been waiting for, the final season is here. Actually, I am surprised that it lasted seven years. I mean, I loved the show as a kid and in syndication, but it is kind of silly, and suffers from cookie cutter style plotting. Still, Warner Bros. has done a nice job at delivering the final 17 episodes on six disks. The set is a little slim on he extras, but the episodes are rendered relatively nicely.

The season starts with one of the best episodes of the run, "Happy Birthday, General Lee." This episode flashes back eight years and recounts just how the 1969 Dodge Charger came to be in the possession of Dukes. It is a fun story, tracing it from the beat up black car used in a bank robbery to the fixing up of said car and why they happened to paint it that orange color. Other standouts include "Welcome, Waylon Jennings," where the man behind the narrator steps from behind the curtain to play an active role in the proceedings, and "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Duke," which is fun because it has Luke undergoing a mood change.

Season seven may not have been full length, but they had a mix of clunkers in with the decent ones. A real standout among the clunkers is "Robot P. Coltrane," which has some high tech thieves selling a robot to Boss Hogg to function as their new sheriff. This was just a flat out bad idea, especially when you see the painted cardboard robot costume. Then there is the one where Hazzard is visited by extraterrestrials. The steam engine is clearly beginning to run dry.

The season came to an end with "Opening Night at the Boar's Nest," which featured John Schneider as director and co-writer. The episode has everyone in town getting ready some performances for opening night, including the Duke's family band and Roscoe P. Coltrane's magic act. While everyone is enjoying the show, a couple of recently released cons with a grudge against Hogg ride into town and kidnap the portly fellow. This leaves the Duke cousins and Roscoe to track him down. Things are complicated by the ransom demand for the fat man. However, Roscoe is convinced he really made him disappear, it was like a scene out of The Prestige. The episode ends with the safe return of Boss (surviving a gunshot) and the happy touching reunion of Roscoe and Boss Hogg. Actually felt bad for Coltrane who pretty much sums up the feelings of a cast that is about to disband.

I always enjoyed the show. It was corny and funny and had plenty of car chasing action, stuff that is always attractive to a young and impressionable mind. The Dukes fit in nicely with the 80's era of action television, alongside the likes of Knight Rider, Macgyver, and The A-Team. It was a show that you could pick up any episode and figure out what was going on, and if you watched enough, you could probably begin to predict what was going to happen. Overall, it was a fun series, and know it is all on DVD.

Audio/Video. Audio is Dolby Digital Mono, preserving the original mono broadcast. It sounds good, clear and crisp. The video is presented in 1.33:1 ratio and looks prety good, if slightly to the soft side. Still, nothing to really complain about.

Extras. They are rather minimal. They include a tribute to Waylon Jennings and his involvement with the show. Also included are a new music video for the "Good Ol' Boys" theme song, performed with John Schneider, Tom Wopat, and Catherine Bach.

Bottomline. Well that about does it, the series is fully available on DVD, including the brief ill advised stint with Coy and Vance. This season, just like the rest had its fair share of the good and the bad. It was fun for the nostalgia, but I do not really see myself visiting the series all that often. Still, this is a nice sendoff for the new age outlaws.



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