STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $9.98

The Pitch

Senior Warner Bros. DVD Exec: “What’s our standard policy for TV DVDs?”

Junior Warner Bros. DVD Exec: “To release a pathetic offering of a few episodes before giving up the full season box sets and slapping a generic name like Television Favorites on it.”

Senior Warner Bros. DVD Exec: "Good, let’s go with that."

"Did I ever tell you the one about Gabe Kaplan?"
"No, you never told me the one about Gabe Kaplan."

"Well, Gabe Kaplan was on this hit TV show and then he left."
"That’s pretty much it…"

The Humans

Gabe Kaplan, Marcia Strassman, John Travolta, Robert Hegyes, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, and Dustin Diamond’s bitch, Ron Palillo.

The Nutshell

Kaplan played Gabe Kotter, a teacher who returns to his alma mater, Buchanan High in Brooklyn, to teach. Kotter was a former “Sweathog,” which was a member of the remedial class, to which he is assigned to teach by the Vice Principal. The class consists of a bunch of screw ups including poon hound, Vinnie Barbarino (Travolta), Juan Epstein (Robert Hegyes), basketball star Freddie “Boom Boom” Washington (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs), and Horshack (Palillo), who defies description. The staples of the show were the Sweathogs giving Kotter a hard time and vice versa, Kotter telling his wife (Marcia Strassman) a lame joke at the beginning and ending of the show, usually about a friend or family member of his, and really, really bad fashions and hairdos. I mean like scary bad. This is the absolute worst of the ‘70s you’re likely ever to see on TV; and none worse than Kaplan who looked like a young Gene Shalit (which not even Gene Shalit managed to ever do).

Hegyes: "So after I wash and pick it out for a couple of hours, I use Afro Sheen to moisturize and give it some body."
Palillo & Hilton-Jacobs: "Solid!"

The Package

Did I mention pathetic? Six episodes, apparently chosen at random, from the various seasons. There’re no special features, it’s in the original TV standard and the audio is in Dolby Digital Mono. The cover art is actually quite decent, but if that’s the thing you care about most, you can get it on the Amazon link up above and save yourself 10 bucks. For this offering, the episodes, although restored, showed more grain than a five mile stretch of Iowa.

The Lowdown

Before I took a gander at this disc, I had to go through hypno-regression therapy to try to recall anything about this show beyond the term “Sweathogs,” the theme song and Barbarino…and it still didn’t work. I do remember that I used to watch Kotter back when I was of the age to have my own Six Million Dollar Man doll – you know, the one in the red jumpsuit with the bionic arm and attachments and shit? Anyway, since those days, I hadn’t so much as heard the theme song on any radio nor seen hardly any footage of the show anywhere. Back in the day, this was one of the more popular TV comedies of the ‘70s. Gabe Kaplan was a huge star and Kotter vaulted a fresh-faced John Travolta into projects like Saturday Night Fever and Grease and years later “Horshack’s” Ron Palillo into getting his ass beat by Screech on Celebrity Boxing.

"It was great, John! I just came from an audition for this new musical called Grease! I’ve got a really good feeling about this one!"

The show quickly flamed out as both Kaplan (bad move) and Travolta (good move) jumped ship around the third season. I didn’t get that old nostalgic feeling upon seeing the show again, I just marveled at how bad overall it looked and chalked it up to another bad CHUD DVD experience. I do realize, however, that there are a few fans of the show still alive, but this random six-episode set is just a jerkoff before the eventual full season offerings. Skip it.

2.8 out of 10