The Dukes of Hazzard was consistently among the top-rated television series (at one point, ranking second only to Dallas, which immediately followed the show on CBS' Friday night schedule). However, in the spring of 1982, as filming was due to begin on the fifth season, series stars Tom Wopat and John Schneider did not report to the set due to a contract dispute over their salaries and merchandising royalties owed to them. Catherine Bach also considered walking out due to similar concerns, but Wopat and Schneider convinced her to stay, insisting that settling the dispute was "man's work." (drexyl's note: )
Production was pushed back by a few weeks as two lookalike replacements were subsequently, hastily hired: Byron Cherry as Coy Duke and Christopher Mayer as Vance Duke. Bo and Luke were said to have gone to race on the NASCAR circuit; how they managed to do this, bearing in mind the terms of their probation, was never mentioned. Cherry and Mayer were originally contracted at just ten episodes as stand-ins, still with hope that a settlement might be reached with Wopat and Schneider (in total, they made 17 episodes). The scripts for Coy and Vance were originally written for Bo and Luke but with their names quite literally crossed out and Coy and Vance penned in. The new Dukes — previously-unmentioned nephews of Uncle Jesse, who were said to have left the farm in 1976, before the show had started — were unpopular with the great majority of viewers, and the ratings immediately sank. Much of the criticism was that Coy and Vance were nothing but direct clones of Bo and Luke, something that show creator Gy Waldron himself has said was wrong, and that he insisted, unsuccessfully, that audiences would not accept direct character clones and the two replacements should be taken in a different direction characterwise. Waldron also commented that if Bach too had walked, the show would have most probably been cancelled. Hit hard by the significant drop in ratings, Warner Brothers renegotiated with Wopat and Schneider, and eventually a settlement was reached, and the original Duke boys returned to the series in early 1983, four episodes from the conclusion of the fifth season. Initially, part of the press release announcing Wopat and Schneider's return mentioned that Cherry and Mayer would remain as part of the cast, but it was quickly realised that "four Duke boys" would not work within the context of the series, and due to the unpopularity associated with their time on the show, were quickly written out of the same episode in which Bo and Luke returned.
I mean, there are two Darrin Stevenses, right? Dick York and Dick Sargent. Yeah, right, as if we wouldn't notice. Oh hold on: Dick York, Dick Sargent, Sergeant York... Wow, that's weird.