"The Great Debate" guest stars James Woods as drama coach Alex Welles, at this early stage of his career with movie and TV credits split at six apiece under his belt. A frustrated writer of two unproduced plays ('A Streetcar Named Shirley' and 'Fiddler on My Sister'), Alex delights in promoting his debate team, three of the school's brightest students, and is challenged by Kotter to go up against the suddenly artistic Sweathogs. Gabe comes up with the topic of resolve, how human beings are naturally aggressive, with his students dressing up in elaborate costumes designed to psych out the competition, the Sweathogs on the positive side, Alex's team for the negative. Helaine Lembeck, lookalike daughter of Harvey Lembeck, returns as Judy Borden, with Dennis Bowen debuting as fellow honor student Todd Ludlow (four further episodes). Barbarino's research name checks Jack the Ripper, and his own parents: "now you hit him Margie, my arm is tired!" Washington, having spoken in public only in church, stands at the podium and delivers a white hot sermon! The Sweathogs' tactics actually succeed in victory for their side, as Todd Ludlow cannot resist being aggressive in his responses. The losing coach has one thing to say to Kotter: "in your socks with a pound of lox!" This was the second appearance of pretty Debralee Scott as female Sweathog Hotsy Totsy, looking suitably hot in her cheerleader outfit.
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