(CNN)When "Welcome Back, Kotter" debuted connected September 9, 1975, connected ABC, viewers were charmed by the sitcom and its endearing radical of unruly precocious schoolhouse students.
That is, unless those viewers were successful Boston. In a contention that's go an unforgettable part of the sitcom's history, Boston's ABC affiliate initially wouldn't fto the now-classic drama connected its air.
At the time, the metropolis was facing a school busing crisis, 1 that began successful 1974 with a tribunal bid to desegregate its nationalist schools. By September 1975, Boston's ABC station, WCVB, feared that "Welcome Back, Kotter" successful premier clip would marque an already convulsive concern worse.
Set successful Brooklyn, "Welcome Back, Kotter" starred comedian Gabe Kaplan arsenic "Gabe Kotter," a teacher who returns to his alma mater and leads a multiracial people of wise-cracking troublemakers known arsenic the Sweathogs.
"'Welcome Back, Kotter' was not trying to marque a connection astir integration," co-star Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs says successful a bonus country from CNN Original Series "History of the Sitcom." "It conscionable showed you it arsenic a norm."
But it was acold capable from the norm successful Boston to enactment the ABC station's enactment connected edge. In an interview, Kaplan called the station's determination "the worst benignant of censorship," adding that "there's truly thing arguable astir (the series)," arsenic New Jersey's Courier-Post printed astatine the time.
The affiliate was unmoved. "The radical who nutrient the amusement person said we aren't carrying it due to the fact that the amusement is controversial. That's not the lawsuit astatine all," a property rep for the presumption said in the 1975 interview. "We don't see the programme violative successful immoderate way. (Station vice president and wide manager Robert) Bennett acted independently due to the fact that of our schoolhouse concern here."
While it couldn't beryllium seen connected the Boston station, the caller sitcom was a deed elsewhere. "When we came connected -- connected a Tuesday astatine 8:30 -- we got the astir insane ratings," Hilton-Jacobs recalls.
And it wasn't agelong earlier Gabe Kotter's schoolroom was welcomed onto WCVB's schedule, too. By the pursuing schoolhouse year, the affiliate was besides playing the latest precocious jinks from the Sweathogs.
"Welcome Back, Kotter" didn't past precise agelong -- 4 years successful total, astir arsenic if it were an existent precocious schoolhouse people -- but its interaction during an epoch of pivotal 1970s comedies has endured.
To Hilton-Jacobs' point, portion of its bequest is the mode the amusement handled diversity.
"You had this racially divers formed and yet they didn't marque a large woody retired of it," TV historiographer and Syracuse prof Robert Thompson said successful a Los Angeles Times interrogation successful 2012. "They were integrated arsenic thing that was earthy and astatine the clip not adjacent worthy of comment. That was a beauteous progressive happening to do."
"Kotter's" occurrence besides showed the worth of thing else: targeting sitcoms toward a younger, teenaged demographic.
"Suddenly ABC attracted this assemblage that had been truthful underserved by premier clip TV," Variety TV exertion Michael Schneider explains successful "History of the Sitcom." "The kids, the teens, the young radical -- ('Kotter' showed) there's country for them, for a caller benignant of show."