This was one of my favorite TV shows as a kid. Gabe Kaplan played Mr. Kotter, a teacher in Brooklyn, NY (Buchanan High, I believe, was the name). He was funny, clever with a good bit of wisdom in his teaching style and cared a lot about his students (aka the Sweathogs). He’d often start and end the show with a corny joke about one of his uncles (“Did I ever tell you about my Uncle So-and-So?”). Marcia Stassman played his long suffering wife, Julie (Gabe Kotter loved his wife, but not her tuna casseroles!). John Sylvester White played Mr. Woodman, consumate curmudgeon who had little tolerance for the Sweathogs. John Travolta (Saturday Night Fever and Ladder 49) played Vinnie Barbarino, the class stud. He was the most popular with the ladies. He could be difficult when Mr. Kotter asked him questions in class (“What? Where? When?”). Sometimes when frustrated, he’d shout “I’m so confuuuuused!” When annoyed, he’d tell one of his fellow Sweathogs “Up your nose with a rubber hose!” His theme song was “Ba-ba-ba-ba-Barbarino” (to the tune of “Barbara Ann.” Ron Pallillo played Arnold Horshack (pronounced by little Arnold as “Hawwwwshaaaack!”), the lovable class dork (“Hallo! Howrya? Very impressive, Mista Kotta!”). To get Mr. Kotter’s attention, he’d often shout “Oh-oh-oh-oh!” He also had the best laugh in the class (he’d grunt “heh-heh-heh-heh!” like a seal). Lawrence Hilton Jacobs (Cooley High and The Jackson Story) played Freddie “Boom Boom” Washington, lovably hip African American. He was the only Sweathog with a steady girlfriend (Verna Jean) and played on Buchanon’s basketball team. He’d address Mr. Kotter “Yo, Mr. Kottair!” and when addressed in class, he’d smile and say (in a deep voice) “Hi there!” or “Unfortunately, I don’t have my homework haaandy!” Finally, Robert Hedges played Juan Julio de Huevos Epstein, who was part Puerto Rican, part Jewish. He was often late for class (I’ve got a note, Mr. Kotter!”). His late note was often signed by Epstein’s mother (I wonder how many kids in school tried that?)! When annoyed (often by Barbarino), he’d say “Vinniiiiie! You gonna diiiiiiiiiie!” The theme song was written, sung and performed by John B. Sebastian (formerly of the Lovin’ Spoonful).
Unfortunately, this is not the Complete 1st Season (which is why I had to dock this one star). The pilot episode introduced the class as unresponsive and difficult. The Deprogramming of Arnold Horshack shows Arnold being moved to a different class after he’s excelled in Mr. Kotter’s class (the trouble is, he doesn’t really fit in with the “smarter” kids). In Father Vinnie, Vinnie Barbarino almost drops out of school to become a priest, just to please his family’s wishes.
Hopefully, Warner Bros. will release the entire seasons of this show. It may not be politically correct by today’s standards, but it was funny, clever and often taught a good lesson.
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Very Cool show.
This Welcome Back Kotter DVD has six 30 minute episodes on it. No extras, but i’m not complaining for the price. I just hope this DVD is a sign that Welcome Back Kotter will be released as full seasons in the SHORT future.
I would love to see this whole series on DVD, but was happy to get just this small amount on one DVD. I watched some Welcome Back Kotter episodes as a kid and even now, as an adult, I think they are just hysterical. Great fun for a small amount of money!