Long before Jerry Sienfeld and Ray Romano were sought after by the networks to build sit-coms around their material, a stand-up comedian by the name of Gabe Kaplan had great success with a little show called Welcome Back Kotter (ABC 1975-79).
As was common in the seventies the shows have a very theatrical feel due to the way they were filmed and the limited sets consisting of the Kotter's one room apartment shared by Gabe and his wife Julie (Marcia Strassman), and the classroom at the school. One cannot help but get the feel of watching a play as we are introduced into the world of Buchanan High School. The reoccurring bit of Kaplan closing each show with old school jokes only reinforces that theatrical feel, as his bits are reminiscent of vaudeville.
Though the writing is typical seventies sitcom set-up punch, and the far-fetched scripts establish the characters as a comedy team rather than a teacher and students, it works, especially in season one. In these first twenty-two episodes we get to watch our characters develop and grow, and it makes for very enjoyable viewing. Eventually Travolta’s Barbarino will be the break out star before we even knew who Fonzie was, and the stories will begin to focus far too much on him. That is not the case here, as each character gets the spotlight. For a complete review; check out maskedmoviesnobs.com
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