Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Dukes of Gotham

I watched the Dukes of Hazzard over the weekend. It was probably the first time I had seen the show since it went off the air. I stumbled upon a DoH marathon on CMT and was somewhat surprised that I still found the show entertaining. I couldn't help but thinking that the show, which I watched on a weekly basis as kid, was very similar to another one of my old favorites, the old Batman TV series.

Let's consider the similarities. Batman and Robin, two impossibly square crime fighters, spent an hour each week fighting against comical and utterly incompetent villains to keep the streets of Gotham City safe. Bo and Luke Duke, two straight arrows, spent an hour each week fighting against the same comically incompetent villain to defend the honor of the Duke family and all law-abiding citizen of Hazzard County. In the Batman TV series, a cliffhanger at the end of the first episode made the viewers wonder if Batman and Robin would still be alive for tomorrow's episode (at the same bat-time, on the same bat-channel). Since the Dukes were only on once a week, the cliffhanger spanned a single commercial break and generally involved the General Lee getting airborne. Automobiles played an important role in both shows, Batman had the Batmobile and Dukes had their beloved General Lee. Both shows also featured a narrator.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, both shows used quite a bit of over-acting, especially for the villain roles. Batman was way more corny and over-the-top, but I think that Boss Hogg and Rosco P. Coltrane would have pretty much felt right at home had they wandered onto the streets of Gotham City. While the roles of the Duke boys weren't played as straight as Batman and Robin, the way that they maintained a congenial relationship with Boss Hogg in light of his never-ending quest to slander them (or worse) was either a page out the Batman and Robin clean-living playbook or a testament to southern hospitality.

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