Welcome Back Kotter: TV Favorites (DVD) (Multi-Title)
Take a time-trip back to the wide lapels and bell bottoms of the '70s in one of that decade's biggest comedy hits! Teacher Gabe Kotter (Gabe Kaplan) returns to his former high school, teaching the remedial class--of which he had been a member--known as the "sweathogs." But, for some reason, the lovable losers and delinquents of Buchanan High accept their new teacher as they provide a nonstop string of laughs on Welcome Back, Kotter. This compilation brings you the hit series for the first time ever on DVD!
Welcome to DVD, Mr. Kotter. Born of Gabe Kaplan's stand-up comedy reminiscences, this 1975 series stars the Marxist (as in Groucho) comedian as a teacher who returns to the tough Brooklyn high school of his youth to teach students who are as unmotivated and undisciplined as he was. If Ron Paillo, as "village schmendrik" Arnold Horshack was Kotter's class clown, then John Travolta, as Vinnie Barbarino, the dim leader of the Sweathogs, became this series' "Most Likely to Succeed" star pupil. He gets extra credit for graduating from Teen Beat idol to A-list movie star, and seeing him at the beginning of his roller coaster career is the main fascination. Not to take anything from the rest of the cast, including Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs as Freddie "Boom Boom Washington," Robert Hegyes as self-described "flim-flam man" Juan Epstein, the late John Sylvester White as curmudgeon Mr. Woodman, who remembers Kotter from his delinquent days; and Marcia Strassman (displaying an off-center Diane Keaton quality) as Mrs. Kotter, whose main purpose seems to be an audience for Kotter's jokes that open each episode. This collection contains six episodes from the series' first three seasons: "One Flu Over the Cuckoo's Nest"; "Father Vinnie"; "Sweatside Story"; "I'm Having Their Baby"; "The Deprogramming of Arnold Horshack"; and "Goodbye, Mr. Kripps," something of a Very Special Episode in which Vinnie blames himself for a teacher's heart attack. Welcome Back, Kotter is grade-A nostalgia, but points are taken off for lack of commentary or interviews with Kaplan or any other members of the ensemble who aren't John Travolta. Casting memo to Ice Cube, who is reportedly preparing a big screen remake: Philip Baker Hall for Mr. Woodman! After that, you're on your own. --Donald Liebenson