In thinking about the cultural impact of the original The Dukes of Hazzard television series, I kept coming back to one inescapable conclusion: The same show almost certainly would never be made today.
The TV series, inspired by the 1975 movie Moonrunners and airing from 1979-85, was something of a product of its time. Uncomplicated plots. Low stakes. And relatively static character development.
As TV has grown into massively plotted, layered shows, full of guts, gore and sex -- think Game of Thrones or Homeland -- Dukes has become a sort of bygone, slice-of-life bit of Americana.
It was about fun, and thats all it was ever about.
Bo and Luke Duke, known as the Duke boys (John Schneider and Tom Wopat), always seemed to get themselves into mischief each week, but it was mostly harmless shenanigans. They never carried firearms, they never swore (it was always dang and shoot), and they never mistreated anyone. Had the show been created today, Bo and Luke likely would be cooking up crystal meth and trying to outrun U.S. marshals and the DEA -- something of a mix between Breaking Bad and Justified.
Daisy Duke (Catherine Bach) was a sex symbol even back then, but her outfits never got more racy than her eponymous jeans shorts or tied-up plaid shirts. One can only imagine what the character would have been asked to do today.
Boss Hogg (Sorrell Booke) and Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (James Best) were always involved in a money-making, crooked scheme. But lets face it. These guys werent exactly cut out of The Sopranos cloth.
A modern variation of the show would be considered too regional, with not enough broad-based appeal or diversity that todays audiences expect. Rather, it was Hollywoods view of what we Southerners do and how we talk.
A standard episode of Dukes was fairly formulaic. There always was a scheme of Boss Hoggs that set up the storyline that week, the Dukes efforts to either foil that scheme or rescue Boss Hogg when everything hit the fan, and a car chase. At the end of the day, the Duke boys were always able to rely on the home-spun wisdom of Uncle Jesse (Denver Pyle) and the loyalty of family, including honorary Duke Cooter (Ben Jones), who was their trusty mechanic.
Occasionally, a country music or NASCAR star showed up to either help Bo and Luke or get rescued by them.
But Ive forgotten most of the details of the plots over time. My favorite episode of The Dukes of Hazzard? The one where the General Lee jumped over something while the boys shouted Yee-haw!
Dukes did teach me some life lessons along the way, though.
Despite high levels of corruption, its very difficult to remove elected officials from office.
Theres no need to carry a gun if you have an explosive-tipped arrow.
Drugs and alcohol are bad, unless its moonshine.
Rural Georgia is full of natural inclines that can launch a car 50 feet in the air and allow it to land in one piece -- unless its a police cruiser.
Its always easier to renegotiate a contract when you do so from a position of strength. Otherwise, you have whats called the Coy and Vance season. (In real life, Schneider and Wopat walked out on the show in a dispute with producers, and were replaced by two actors playing their cousins, Coy and Vance. Producers ultimately had to give way when there was a huge dropoff in ratings).
Somehow, that sense of fun and innocence is much harder to find today. Just look at the movie version of The Dukes of Hazzard with Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott -- more of a romp without any of the spirit of the TV show.
Perhaps the movie producers didnt pay attention to the last verse of the theme song: Just some good ole boys/Wouldnt change if they could/Fightin the system like a true modern-day Robin Hood.
Phillip Ramati used to write The TV Guy blog for The Telegraph and is a screenwriter in his spare time.