“Up your nose with a rubber hose!”
“Off my case, toilet-face!”
Now you can watch all of Vinnie Barbarino’s (John Travolta) rhyming insults. The complete series of Welcome Back, Kotter is now available on DVD. The package consists of 95 episodes over four seasons on 16 DVDs. The double-sided covers are designed to resemble textbooks.
The sitcom was set in the late 1970s and aired on ABC from September 1975 to June 1979. It was filmed in front of a live studio audience and featured a laugh track. The show starred Gabe Kaplan as the titular Mr. Kotter. The comedy is based on Kaplan’s autobiographical stand-up routine.
Mr. Kotter returns to his alma mater of James Buchanan High in Brooklyn to teach a classroom of remedial-level students nicknamed the Sweathogs. Mr. Kotter can relate to the kids in this classroom because he used to be just like them, more interested in slacking off and wisecracking than getting an education.
The spin is that Mr. Kotter was not only a Sweathog back in the day, but he was also the founder of the misfit group. The administration is under the impression that Mr. Kotter will serve as a sort of babysitter to the Sweathogs until they give up on school and drop out. However, Mr. Kotter has other plans, and does his best to provide an education to the students that everyone else has given up on.
Francis Rizzo III, a writer for DVDTalk, discusses the tone and time of the series:
There’s a definite value in experiencing the show’s rapid rise and fall over the course of this set, but it also serves as a fascinating time capsule from the late ‘70s, including the fashion and language, as well as some of the cultural touchstones. When a computer is introduced to the classroom, the reaction of the students and teachers to such now-primitive technology is hilarious. Meanwhile, casual racism and misogyny abound, with Asians, including Pat Morita in a guest appearance, get it pretty rough, and women are mainly arm candy, with a few interesting exceptions. The school experience wouldn’t pass muster today either, with aggressive teachers and combative in-class relationships between instructors and students. This set also lets you experience the “joy” of a live ‘70s sitcom audience, a group of people whose bar for entertainment is extremely low.
You can currently pre-order the DVD set from Amazon for around $82. The official title release date is August 26.