About Christmas TV History

Monday, October 28, 2013

Dukes of Hazzard Christmas (1980)

Last month at Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in Baltimore, I gave a presentation called Entertaining Spirits: The Many TV Adaptations of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.  I had so much fun discussing the highs and lows of television's own take on the Christmas literary classic that I thought I'd share The Dukes of Hazzard Christmas episode here on the blog.  My reference to this episode inspired a bit of discussion--and laughter--that weekend in Baltimore.  I hope it brings back good memories for you as well.

Boss Hogg has the Duke boys thrown in jail at Christmas time!
In the 1980 Christmas episode, "The Great Santa Claus Chase," the Duke boys pick up a truckload of Christmas trees for the local boy scouts, who took orders from the townspeople for them.   On their way back to town, Bo and Luke are stopped and their truck filled with Christmas trees is hijacked.  Bo and Luke become even more suspicious of who would commit such a low-down crime when Boss Hogg accuses them of stealing the trees themselves, frames them with circumstantial evidence, and has them thrown in jail.

"We look like the bad guys!"

The Duke family name is so tarnished that Uncle Jesse's children's Christmas choir concert is cancelled.

Bo and Luke are feeling down because no one in Hazzard will have a Christmas tree now that their truck was stolen.  They're also frustrated because Uncle Jesse had to spend all the family's Christmas money on bail to spring them from jail.  On top of it all, the Duke family reputation is now tarnished as J.D. Hogg has made them look like criminals and everyone in town doesn't know what to believe.

Can these three get Boss Hogg to reveal his guilty feelings for his greedy crimes?

When Boss Hogg begins selling his own truck-load of Christmas trees at three times the price, the Duke boys know who is behind the hijacking.  Not sure how to catch J.D. Hogg at his game, Bo, Luke, and Daisy conspire to trick Boss Hogg into confessing his scheme.

While Hogg naps, Daisy turns on the radio receiver in his office.

Each of the Dukes takes a turn, speaking across the top of the jug to create a spooky voice--and hopefully frighten a confession out of Boss Hogg.

Using the police radio, Daisy, Bo and Luke each give voice to the Ghost of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, speaking to Boss Hogg during his daily 4:30pm nap in his office at the Boar's Nest.  The three Dukes try to inspire a Dickens-style Christmas conversion in their hillbilly nemesis, making him think he is visited by three ghosts teaching him to be less greedy.  Unfortunately, the well-intentioned scheme fails.

Bo, Luke, and Cooter "stealing" back their own stolen Christmas trees.

Trying another tack, the Duke boys and Cooter make plans to "steal" back their own Christmas trees from Boss Hogg and deliver them to the residents of Hazzard as originally promised.  They decide to try to confuse law enforcement by each disguising themselves in a Santa Claus suit and driving three identical pick-up trucks for the deliveries.  Sure enough, Cletus, Roscoe, and J.D. Hogg are driving around the dusty country roads trying to follow one gray-colored pick-up truck driven by a Santa Claus--never realizing there are three of them driving in different directions.

The three hijackers return to take more of Boss Hogg's bounty.

Uncle Jesse and Daisy following the hijackers at top speed in Daisy's white Jeep.  YEE-HAW!!

Adding to the chaos, the three original hijackers, once employed by Boss Hogg, have returned to Hazzard County in order to rob Boss Hogg's safe in his office at the Boar's Nest.  The three hijackers have coincidentally disguised themselves in Santa Claus suits as well.  When Uncle Jesse and Daisy interrupt the professional thieves' heist, they begin a car chase hoping to identify and capture the thieves and prove that the Duke boys have been innocent all along.

The car chases and jumps by the General Lee are always the best parts in every episode.

The high-speed chase ends in one dusty crossroad when all the vehicles involved end up in the same place at once!

The climax is Bo, Luke, and Cooter dressed as three Santas in a classic car chase delivering Christmas trees and evading Boss Hogg and his corrupt law enforcement team, while the three thieves--also dressed as Santas--try to escape the high-speed chase from Uncle Jesse and Daisy Duke.  Can Boss Hogg ever learn his lesson about greed?

Alone on Christmas Eve, Boss Hogg has nothing better to do than read his new book, Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

Though the Duke boys are able to get themselves out of trouble with the law and restore the family's reputation, the episode's story isn't finished yet.  We see Rosco P. Coltrane and Boss Hogg exchange Christmas gifts.  It turns out that Rosco gives his boss a copy of the much beloved holiday classic, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.  Reading it (and not recognizing the references from his experiences earlier in the episode), J.D. Hogg is moved by the book and has a change of heart!  He decides to set aside his greedy ways for once and join Rosco at the Duke family's Christmas party.

"Merry Christmas everybody and God bless us, everyone!"--Boss Hogg, of course!

If you've seen this series even once, you've got to recognize Hogg's Christmas transformation as a temporary state.  What would be the point of this series without their number one villain?  But it is nice to see Boss Hogg change his heart--even if it doesn't last very long.  I'll leave it to you to decide if this is an example of a high or a low in TV versions of Dickens' classic literary tale.  But if you're anything like me, watching this ridiculous Christmas episode always makes me laugh.


  1. Christmas with the Dukes is always fun, even if they are in trouble. Heck, wouldn't be the same if they weren't in some sort of shenanigans!