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Gabe Kotter is a high-school teacher with a bunch of unruly students in his class. The student troublemakers are led by Vinnie Barbarino, who has a knack for rhyming insults. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
I really enjoyed Welcome Back, Kotter. It was a very funny show with an outstanding ensemble cast anchored by Gabe Kaplan, who brought lots of humor to the class of unteachable sweathogs with jokes and impressions. I always got a kick out of his uncle jokes in the opening and closing of each episode, including the ones when he was telling a joke to a turkey and to a computer used as an electronic teaching device.
As for the sweathogs, they were a riot. John Travolta catapulted his way to success as the macho, monosyllabic ("What? Where?") Vinnie Barbarino, Robert Hegyes portrayed TV's first Puerto Rican Jew Juan (Little Juan) Epstein and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs made me crack up every time he said "Hi there!" But my favorite of the sweathogs was Arnold Horshack. Ron Pallilo's portrayal of one of TV's funniest nerds was so outstanding, from his nasal voice to his inimitable laugh. His laugh was the funniest on TV prior to Steve Urkel.
Gabe constantly got grief from vice principal (later principal) Mr. Woodman, who kept barging into his class with the same frequency Frank & Marie Barone did to their son years later on Everybody Loves Raymond. Let's not forget Marcia Strassman as Gabe's wife Julie, who didn't have much to do in most of the show until the fourth season.
As for the fourth season, the least that can be said, the better. it was horrible without Kaplan and Travolta on the show full-time and Stephen Shortridge as Beau. It was like watching the Sanford and Son episodes a couple of years earlier without Redd Foxx.
I'll wrap this up by mentioning the theme song by John Sebastian that made it to No. 1 on the pop charts and resurrected his career. it was one of the best 70s TV theme songs. Welcome back. Welcome back. Welcome back.
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