This review contains spoilers.
Until I came to watch it on DVD today to review, I actually hadn't watched "Luke's Love Story" right through for many years. For some reason, it was never one of my favourites – maybe due to the fact I was only about 14 when I recorded it from $ky One way back in 1992, and the romance element was far too slushy for my young taste. But watching it today, I feel I've maybe been a bit unfair on the episode, as it has a good story with some nice scenes, and – as with all of the early episodes – much more variety than the many rather formulaic later episodes.
Although the previous episode, "Swamp Molly", was the first episode broadcast-wise to have been show after the show moved from Covington, Georgia onto the Warner Brothers lot in Hollywood, "Luke's Love Story" was actually the first to be filmed after the move.
And as such, this episode maybe does have signs of the show finding it's footing here and there. Cooter still displays his wild man streak of the early episodes – at the very beginning of the story, he crashes into the Boar's Nest on a "borrowed" motorcycle, and it is vaguely hinted that he might have broken into Boss Hogg's house to retrieve the trophy for the upcoming race. Speaking of Boss, here the make-up team have toyed with really highlighting a wart on his face, something that is never as prominent again as it is in this episode.
It is also interesting to note that Boss and Rosco feel that Enos stands a chance of winning the derby – albeit with help from a little cheating. In the very early episodes (most notably "Mary Kaye's Baby"), Enos is considered to be a very good driver, but by the second season, he would be one of the worst drivers in Hazzard!
The Boar's Nest is much dimmer lit than usual, and more rowdy (in the style that the original Boar's Nest was in the pilot, "One Armed Bandits"). I really like that we get to see some of the more colourful locals in this episode; later, we would only generally see well-behaved locals sitting in the background of such scenes.
Anyway, soon enough Amy Creevy appears on the scene. She is perfectly played by Roz Kelly, who had previously played quite a similar character, Pinkie Tuscadero, at the start of the third season of 'Happy Days' (she was rumoured to become a regular in that series, but was dropped after reportedly falling out with producers, trivia fans).
She is accompanied by her ... "unusual" mechanic, Frankie (Mews Small). With her unique voice and tomboy ways, opinions vary over whether she is hilarious or annoying; I have to say, I do rather fall into the latter camp on this.
It is interesting to see Luke's morals in this story – he fells a lot for Amy, and says that he would like to be loyal to her, but subsequently says that he might not be able to keep that vow; a sign of the more sexually charged early stories, and a stark contrast to the more "clean cut" Dukes boys of later instalments.
In the end, Luke "decides to let Amy win", and off Amy and Frankie head, to take part in a race in another County, never to be seen again. It's a real shame – as with many first season guest characters, I would like to have seen Amy brought back at some point.
Being one of the early stories, this episode feels to have more "polish" to it that the rather production-line style offerings later on, and the feel that more time and care was spent setting up shots. I like that it features more moments of genuine drama (over the slapstick-heavy later stories), accompanied by some very mood-fitting music. These first season episodes were just so much more varied than many of the mid-run stories.
Car fans will enjoy this episode for the sight of several muscle cars. 'The Dukes of Hazzard' did a number of race stories over the course of it's run; my favourite has always been the excellent third season episode "Duke Vs. Duke", but my estimation of "Luke's Love Story" has raised somewhat after watching it again today.
For years, I might have ranked this episode as my least favourite of the first season, but watching it today, I think better of it. I haven't watched "Deputy Dukes" or "Route 7-11" right through for a long time either, so I'll wait till the end of the season as to which episode takes that title. But I enjoyed "Luke's Love Story" enough this time around to give it a decent 9/10.