Tonight’s Throwback Thursday is another little 80’s Ghost of Christmas past. The General Lee arrived under my Christmas tree in 1980 or 1981. Yeeeeeee-HAH.
What was especially cool about the Mego toy company is that they so generously included Bo and Luke Duke, as you see below — the weird, lower-budget packaging makes them look like they’ve already been tied up by one of the TV show’s easily defeated bad guys. The Dukes Included” feature was a happy surprise — if you were a kid collecting Star Wars toys in the 80’s, you were already well acquainted with the common disappointing disclaimer, “action figures sold separately.”
I remember that Christmas a little more vividly then others … the tree was in a different corner of our family living room, for some reason. And it was the very same year my older brother received AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” on LP.
Man, did I love The Duke boys. So, too, did my fellow enthusiast, Mikey Wagner, on the next block. We loved the two good ol’ boys; we loved Roscoe’s laugh, and his dog, Flash; we loved puzzling over why Enos was a good guy, kind of; we loved Waylon Jennings as the viewer-surrogate narrator; and we loved “THE JUMPS,” trying our best to emulate them with our bikes, along with that “Yeeeeeeee-HAH.” Hell … we even watched through the strange, troubling “Coy and Vance” pseudo-Dukes days. (Fans who remember the show will know what I mean.)
Hey — if you are a true 80’s scholar, you might recall that Enos even got his own spin-off TV show in 1980. It was called, unremarkably, “Enos.” And it was weird. It was a … drama in which Enos moved to California and joined the LAPD. You can’t make this stuff up.
My zeal for all things Dukes led to one faux pas with my family. We had a gigantic late-70’s-era green Oldsmobile, and it had vinyl seats that got HOT when you parked it in the sun. You could mitigate that problem by leaving the windows rolled down. (Yes, I really am old enough to remember these things; the first “electric window opener” I ever saw was on a babysitter’s car, and, at the time, it seemed high-tech and weirdly opulent to me.)
Anyway, my older sister and I were returning from somewhere (it might have been church, or maybe the supermarket). I dove feet-first into the passenger seat, instead of opening the door, hopping in just as the Dukes jumped into the General Lee. That … really pissed my sister off, for some reason. My mom too. She told me, slowly, gravely and in a low voice in the kitchen that afternoon, “This is real life. That is a TV show.”
Mikey liked Daisy Duke considerably more than I did; his occasional admiring mention of her puzzled me. I hadn’t quite discovered girls yet in 1981, and I couldn’t appreciate the nature of her unique aesthetic value on that TV show. (I’m pretty sure the show’s creators did.) I thought Daisy was superfluous, even though I didn’t know what the word “superfluous” meant. Her presence seemed to be a weird, obligatory public service reminder that, yes, girls could also drive, and were also known to live in the country sometimes.
Is the term “Daisy Duke shorts” still even employed today? Do kids even know that it is derived from a TV show?