Some series should simply remain unseen. The Dukes, an animated spin-off of The Dukes Of Hazzard, is one of them. A joint production between iconic animators Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros. Television (who owned the original The Dukes Of Hazzard rights), The Dukes raced its way into the Saturday Morning Cartoon slot from February to October of ‘83 and lasted a whole two seasons and twenty episodes before someone finally pulled the plug. Around the same time, Hanna-Barbera was producing a number of animated versions of classic or popular prime-time series: a trend that (fortunately) dried up somewhat — but left the door open for many children to become case studies for clinical psychiatric studies.
The Dukes might not have been so awful had it not been for a dispute between Warner Bros. Television and their live-action The Dukes Of Hazzard stars John Schneider and Tom Wopat. Both actors had demanded raises and a cut of the show’s popular merchandise line (you remember: the lunch pails, toy cars, etc.). But, instead of reaching an agreement, the pair wound up walking out — and the studio hired two replacement actors to play the Duke boys’ cousins: Byron Cherry and Christopher Mayer. Cherry and Mayer “starred” in the live-action series for a season (which resulted in some extremely poor ratings), and also helmed the first 13-episode season of The Dukes.
Schneider and Wopat return for The Dukes’ second season (which only lasts seven episodes), but the show is so poor (even by ‘80s Saturday morning cartoon standards) that you’ll probably only make it that far if you’re a diehard fan. The one big plus to the series is that the rest of the original live-action series’ major cast — Catherine Bach, James Best, Sorrell Booke and Denver Pyle — voice their respective characters in this animated atrocity which has very little to do with the much more enjoyable live-action series.
The Dukes Of Hazzard is another in the increasingly-long line of Warner Bros.’ “made-to-order” collection. The set (available via www.wbshop.com) brings us the complete animated series on four DVD-Rs, which have been culled from the best existing video masters. Like many of Warner’s other “manufactured-on-demand” releases, the audio or video aspects have not been touched up any, and you won’t find any special features or subtitle options. The set presents the series in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio, and boasts a mono English soundtrack.
To reiterate: for diehard fans only.