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Welcome Back, Vinnie Barbarino

TV Land’s Annual TV awards show is getting the cast of “Welcome Back, Kotter” together.

If you’re not familiar with “Welcome Back, Kotter” here is the premise of the show from Wikipedia.

The show starred comedian Gabe Kaplan as the title character Gabe Kotter, a wise-cracking teacher who returns to his high school alma mater—the fictional James Buchanan High in Brooklyn, New York—to teach an often unruly group of remedial wiseguys known as the “Sweathogs.” (The nickname reflected the fact that the remedial classes were held on the very top floor of the high school.) The school was based on New Utrecht High School[1] which was used in the opening credits, and also the high school that Kaplan attended. The school’s principal was perpetually absent, while the uptight vice principal Michael Woodman (John Sylvester White) dismissed the Sweathogs as worthless hoodlums and only expected Kotter to attempt to control them until they inevitably dropped out.

However, Kotter had attended the same remedial classes when he was a student at Buchanan and was a founding member of the Sweathogs. Recognizing that he was his students’s last chance to learn enough to survive beyond school, he soon befriended them while they learned to recognize and appreciate his commitment and faith in their potential. His devotion to the class was to the extent that his students often visited his Bensonhurst apartment, sometimes to the chagrin of his wife, Julie (Marcia Strassman).

Most of the major characters of Welcome Back, Kotter were based on people from Kaplan’s teen years as a remedial high school student in Brooklyn. As a stand-up comic, one of Kaplan’s most popular routines was “Holes and Mellow Rolls,” in which he talked in depth about his former classmates. The names of three of the four major characters in Holes and Mellow Rolls were changed for the TV series: “Vinnie Barbarino” was inspired by Eddie Lecarri; “Freddie ‘Boom Boom’ Washington” was inspired by Freddie “Furdy” Peyton; and “Juan Epstein” was partially inspired by Epstein “The Animal;” only “Arnold Horshack’s” name remained unchanged.

Look for the TV Land Awards coming this April.

What TV show would you like Hollywood to remake?

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