Welcome Back, Kotter : This series simply doesn't work

This series simply doesn't work

I never regularly watched WBK, but I caught an episode tonight on Me, and I have to say the series simply doesn't work.

1) None of the sweathogs are plausible as high school students. They are all too old. This is true even in the first episode.

2) Gabe Kaplan/Kotter doesn't carry in a dramatic role. Kaplan's forte (pronounced fort) seems to be as a stand-up comedian.

3) The character of Kotter's wife is completely unsympathetic and shouldn't be interacting with the sweathogs. She seems to have a part only so Kotter doesn't have to spend all of his scenes with sweathogs.

4) The typical viewer is completely unable to identify with any of the characters.

I don't understand how the series lasted four seasons when it is really nothing but a disjointed string of one-liners. There is nothing touching or heartwarming about it at all.

Re: This series simply doesn't work

So you came here to tell us all you don't watch it
Don't like it. Thank you. Of course they.look to old because they were but the show is funny.
well first three seasons 4th not so good.

Re: This series simply doesn't work

So you came here to tell us all you don't watch it
Don't like it. Thank you. Of course they.look to old because they were but the show is funny.
well first three seasons 4th not so good.

Re: This series simply doesn't work

Wow. A negative four point review after watching one episode. Makes sense.

Re: This series simply doesn't work

Forte is pronounced as Fort-ay, right? I'll agree about Strassman, who is mediocre at best.

Re: This series simply doesn't work


Forte is pronounced as Fort-ay, right?


No, forte is pronounced FORT to mean a strong point. Fort-ay is a musical term meaning loud.

Re: This series simply doesn't work

In the U.S. forte is usually pronounced for-tay. In France, fort is pronounced with a silent "t", e.g. "Je suis le plus fort" for "I am the strongest". You can use "fort" if you want to, but stateside it is uncommon and people will probably think you are saying "fore" or "fort" (as in Knox).

Re: This series simply doesn't work

But in this context, "forte" as used by the OP means "I'm a know-it-all snob that can't think out of my own little box".

I did not watch this show as a child. I catch it currently (2015) on occasion, andI do not like it.

But it was the RAGE with children in the 1970s. Sure, it's silly - what elementary school kid was going to insist that the actors were too old for high schoolers?

So that is all that counts - what it was in its prime. And it was a hit.

Re: This series simply doesn't work

"forte" is Italian for strong/strength. French has nothing to do with it.

Re: This series simply doesn't work


2) Gabe Kaplan/Kotter doesn't carry in a dramatic role.


Since the character of Kotter was a comedic role and not a dramatic one does it matter?

See if you'd watched more than one episode you'd know that Kotter wasn't a dramatic role. How many minutes/seconds of this episode did you actually watch?

(knock,knock,knock) Penny (knock,knock,knock) Penny (knock,knock,knock) Penny smile.gif

Re: This series simply doesn't work


Since the character of Kotter was a comedic role and not a dramatic one does it matter?


Dramatic means playing a part, working from a script. Kaplan is not suited for that. His talent is as a stand-up comedian.

Re: This series simply doesn't work

you are confusing "comedic role" with improvisation. they are two entirely different things. i've been watching this on MeTV and it's hilarious. Gabe Kaplan is terrific in this comedic role.


"The earth isn't something we can keep taking from without ever thinking about giving back."

Re: This series simply doesn't work

I've been watching the series on MeTV and I don't think you are being entirely objective. I watched WBK as a kid and could identify with the students, because I was a remedial student who failed a grade and had a teacher just like Kotter. Most sitcoms at the time were traditional family sitcoms, WBK was mainly about underperforming students. That was unique back then.

When it returned to MeTV, and not having seen it since the 1970s, I thought it would suck, and while it isn't Shakespeare, by a long stretch, rewatching the series I find that Kaplan and the four male Sweathogs had excellent on-screen chemistry - particularly the first two seasons.

I will grant, the first two seasons are the best. The last two seasons weren't very good and can be skipped. The writers gave very little work to Marcia Strassman and had gave short-shift to the female students. Producer James Komack was a putz who purposely created an antagonist relationship between Kaplan and Strassman, which also contributed to the quality of the show.

Komack refused to let the students graduate or grow up, that is what ultimately killed the series.

Re: This series simply doesn't work

Wow, I can't imagine why you can't see why the show was popular, Mr. Spock. You seem to have such a keen grasp of humanity.

Re: This series simply doesn't work

oh I get it! We're not supposed to post unless we agree with blisteringlogic!

suzycreamcheese RIP Heath Ledger 1979-2008

Re: This series simply doesn't work

You are dead wrong. This is the greatest show ever, period

Re: This series simply doesn't work

I liked it.

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Re: This series simply doesn't work

I'm an old guy (52),and I vividly remember when this show first aired back in 1976. I was in the eighth grade at the time, and when the sitcom first aired that year it became a major TV hit, arguably the hottest TV sitcom during that year. However, the appeal of the show significantly plummeted after the first season and by the fourth season (the last) it totally sucked, especially with the addition of the Beau character and the frequent absences of Barbarino. (By this time, Travolta was focusing on his burgeoning movie career.)

Re: This series simply doesn't work

WBK was never meant to be a drama, like The White Shadow. Older actors have been portraying high school students for years.

As for Julie Kotter, she needed a life and interests of her own. They never gave her that. I don't count giving birth to twins. She needed an identity. However, I did not see anything wrong with her befriending the Sweathogs.

WBK still has a loyal following. That in itself explains the touching/ heartwarming aspect.

Re: This series simply doesn't work

The original poster makes some valid points.

However, I wouldn't say that the show "doesn't work". Rather, I would say that the show does not age well.

It was quite popular and quite funny back in the mid-1970s. But a lot of that humor is "lost" if you watch the show today in 2014.

You have to view the series in context, when it was produced (mid-1970s). For its time, it was popular. And it was a fairly decent/successful sitcom.

It's not fair to view a 1975 series from a 2104 perspective.

True, I doubt that the show would "work" today. But, it isn't being produced today.

It was produced in 1975. And, at that time, it "worked" quite well.

Re: This series simply doesn't work

All of the op's points are idiotic. Sitcoms all have a surreal quality. Can you relate to anyone on Gilligans Island? Kaplan didn't need to carry a dramatic role in a comedy show. His main line was, "up your nose with a rubber hose." As for the age of the actors, all the cast of 90210 were in their twenties. Studios often have adults play teens because of child labor laws, and contract disputes with greedy parents.

op's post confirms my assertion that most people who come on IMDB are not trolls, but rather they are uneducated, mentally ill, plain dumb, or a variation of all three. Just sayin

Re: This series simply doesn't work

It muat have worked somehow, to stay on for 4 seasons.

Re: This series simply doesn't work

It wouldn't be a surprise to see older actors playing a remedial group of students spending an inordinate amount of time in high school, just how many times did they flunk? The series hilariously addressed this in a third season episode, "Kotter for Vice Principal," in which Gabe dreams that he still looks young while his students are all elderly, a grey haired, pot bellied Barbarino still gazing at himself in a mirror, and a balding Washington asking, "when you gonna let us graduate?" I still enjoy the show to this day, but concede that James Komack essentially killed it by pushing Kaplan out of the picture, a fatal move since Travolta's participation was already limited.

Re: This series simply doesn't work

It was supposed to be a 'special education' class.

In the United Statesspecial education had just been signed into lawrequiring that public schools give all students regardless of disability/severity of disability a free appropriate public school education.

Prior to that, the schools could either just pass them along without actually teaching them, kick them out or refuse to admit them.


Kotter is a 'revolutionary' because he wants to reach the students on their own level.

I was in special ed from the 80's to 1997so yes I was a sweathog. The hair and clothing in this series is dated as well as it being eastcoast. But I understood enough of it.

Re: This series simply doesn't work

Unfortunately you cannot show anything like this today

You have to show sappy stuff.

Re: This series simply doesn't work

1. Well, they are Sweathogs. I'd imagine they've been held back a bit. But ignoring actors ages, like everyone should do, they are very plausible.

2. It's a good thing since this isn't a drama. And it's pronounced fortay or fortee.

3. Julis is very sympathetic. I certainly wouldn't want to put up with half teh crap she does.

4. I disagree.

Re: This series simply doesn't work

1. I disagree. I was around 12 when this show came out and I never gave their ages one thought. I still don't.

2. Like other have stated in the US forte is pronounced for-tay and I think this comment is the most ridiculous because Kaplan at one time was a stand-up comedian and this is a comedy not a drama.

3. I disagree.

4. How would you know what the typical viewer could identify with? Did you take a poll or something on what the typical viewer of WBK could identify with?

Re: This series simply doesn't work


Dramatic means playing a part, working from a script. Kaplan is not suited for that. His talent is as a stand-up comedian


Gabe Kaplan was a comedian and "Welcome Back Kotter" was his big break. The sitcom was loosely based on his life experience and some of his standup routines.

The Sweathogs looked too old but that's how most high school characters were cast back then, ever see Happy Days or any sitcom or drama featuring high school kids from that era?

Julie was there because they wanted Kotter to have life outside the classroom and someone Gabe could deliver those "Uncle Louie"-type jokes to.

Initially in the pre-production stages of the show, the Sweathogs were supposed to be actual juvenile delinquents and harder edge but their personalities were toned down as the show is a sitcom afterall.


When theres no more room in Hollywood, remakes shall walk the Earth.

Re: This series simply doesn't work

This OP post simply doesn't work!


The series does work. Gnight!!


So: a realistic, down to earth show..which is completely off the wall swarming with magic robots?!
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