Marcia, Marcia, Marcia, and other Geezers

Question 1: Is panel 5 a Geezer or a known fixture of American culture?

Question 2: Is “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” a Geezer, or perhaps an anti-Geezer? A cultural meme more likely to be known by the young?

From Andréa and chemgal.

And another one from chemgal. This one has to be a Geezer, right?


  1. Welcome Back Kotter is more recent than The Brady Bunch, so if it is a geezer so should the other be. On the other hand, BB is an engrained part of American culture today. Even the Marcia reference is well know, although most would not have seen the actual episode. All of my students (college) know and have made the Brady Bunch jokes throughout the year.

  2. Paradoxically, Pearls does not deserve the geezer tag here, while Adam’s reference qualifies even though in principle it’s more current. The Brady Bunch is a familiar reference to every generation now: in fact it may be better-known now than when it was new. Welcome Back Kotter, however, has faded into obscurity and is only a vague memory even to geezers.

    As Tarugman says, though, being known as a cultural reference is very different from the episodes themselves being widely watched. I doubt the triple-Marcia moment was widely remembered until the internet video clip era.

  3. Is it a monologue from Welcome Back Kotter? I don’t recognize it; it must be from early, like maybe the pilot if it is, as it is too deep for the level the show quickly settled to — the theme song was deeper and more thoughtful than anything in the regular show — and the only character who could possibly be saying it is Gabe Kaplan, and he disappeared after like two episodes (maybe it got hastily reassigned to Julie…) This disparagement not to say I didn’t love the show, but I acknowledge it quickly devolved to just catch-phrases, repeated bits, and cheap jokes, and the occasional bizarrely solemn “very special episode”.

  4. Gabe Kaplan disappeared after a couple of episodes? He was in every single episode. The show was his project. The only main cast member not to be in all 95 episodes was Travolta, who dropped out of the last half season to focus on movies.

    That said, WB,K is much less in the cultural Zeitgeist than the Brady Bunch. There were a few Epstein excuse note jokes when Jeffrey Epstein was arrested and then died in custody, but it’s definitely more within a certain age group and probably worthy of geezer-hood.

  5. Never watched either show, as best I can recall. To me, the geezer version of a “Marcia” reference would be to Stan Freeberg’s “John — Marcia — John — Marcia — etc.” comedy routine.

  6. DemetriosX: I feel like one of us must be in an alternate universe — even thought the show was called “Welcome Back Kotter”, Gabe Kaplan’s Kotter stopped showing up at some point and they never really addressed it, his wife character was suddenly called upon to represent a Kotter in the show, and he only came back for the very special episode where Horshack gets married, even though they’d had a very special episode in an earlier season all against teen marriage, but here in this episode suddenly Kaplan’s back, and suddenly, even though the character even admits he’s normally against teen marriage, in this case he can see that they are really in love. Yes, it wasn’t literally after two episodes, but it happen. Then Travolta left, and it really started to get silly.

    Maybe in reruns it’s cheaper to buy only the later episodes, so the ones with Kaplan missing are more prominent, but he definitely bizarrely disappeared from his own show.

    I know I could look this stuff up, but it’s more fun to play When Mutiverses Collide; it’s kind of like an anti-Baader-Meinhof…

  7. According to IMDB:
    Complete series cast summary:
    Gabe Kaplan – Gabe Kotter – 95 episodes, 1975-1979
    Marcia Strassman – Julie Kotter – 95 episodes, 1975-1979
    John Sylvester White – Mr. Michael Woodman – 95 episodes, 1975-1979
    Robert Hegyes – Juan Epstein – 95 episodes, 1975-1979
    Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs – Freddie ‘Boom Boom’ Washington – 95 episodes, 1975-1979
    Ron Palillo – Arnold Horshack – 95 episodes, 1975-1979
    John Travolta – Vinnie Barbarino – 87 episodes, 1975-1979

    [and many more, but they aren’t relevant here]

  8. PS: my age could also have something to do with me remembering the last falling-apart season so prominently — I was too young when it began, but just the right age when it wrapped up, so those would last disastrous episodes would be the ones that most strongly imprinted in me…

  9. Well, if we’re going to start bandying research, this from Wikipedia:
    “Major off-screen disputes led Kaplan to break his contract and reduce his appearances. To help fill the voids, Stephen Shortridge joined the cast as smooth-talking Southerner Beau De LaBarre, and Kotter’s wife, Julie, became a school secretary and occasional fill-in teacher, despite having one-year-old twin daughters.”
    They credited him for all episodes, but he didn’t appear in episodes despite the opening claiming he was starring in ’em — this was part of the very bizarreness of the whole thing.

  10. Andrea – IMDb goes by the official credits, though sometimes they will note “Credits only”. So seeing Kaplan listed for 95 episodes doesn’t prove the point.

    Here is another IMDb ” trivia” excerpt and link:

    Gabe Kaplan and John Travolta both left the show after the third season. (Linked item goes on further.) Note there were four seasons, so this falls in between the contending memories of earlier commenters.

  11. “Maybe in reruns it’s cheaper to buy only the later episodes,”

    There is something to that. Don’t know the details but I’ve often noticed they so frequently show late episodes. I’ve never understood why. I wondered if they thought people wanted to see the later episodes more or if they thought that be less notably old.

  12. Anyhoo Question 1: Both. But valid cultural reference. And the Zoom meeting panel has been an internet meme for a while.

    Question 2: “Marcia, marcia, marcia” is an anti-geezer. I have no memory of it ever said in the show, I have no idea what it means, and I never heard it before 15 years ago.

    Question 3: “Welcome Back, Kotter” is a geezer reference.

  13. “What staggers me is that there were 95 episodes in four years. Could this be true? That doesn’t happen anymore, does it??”

    24 episodes a season. That was normal then. Rare now but not unheard of.

  14. Andréa: “How I Met Your Mother” had 208 episodes in 9 seasons, for an average of 23.11 per season, while “The Big Bang Theory” had 279 episodes over 12 seasons for an average of 23.25. Those are pretty much the same as 95/4=23.75.

  15. Kaplan was in every episode until Season 4. If you go through IMBD episode by episode they note if the credit is credit only. Hopefully this will restore Andrea’s faith ;^)

    In the first three seasons, Mr. Kotter was a classroom teacher, and was an integral part of every episode. He was made principal in Season 4. The first episode without Kaplan is the Season 4, episode 4, but he was back for episode 6 and sporadically after that. Season 4 had lots of problems…

    The Brady Bunch, although older, has remained more firmly rooted in pop culture due to its incessant reruns, various reunions, a live stage version in the early 90s, a 1992 TV movie, the 1995 movie parody and its two sequels (1996 and 2002), and numerous references in more recent material.

    “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” comes from Season 3 Episode 10, “Her Sister’s Shadow.” It is used numerous times in the 1995 movie, though, which is why it has become a meme thing.

    So Kotter, definitely geezer, Brady, not geezer.

  16. ” He was made principal in Season 4.”
    Which reinforces a fallacy I saw so often in my 30 years working in a school district: Good teachers don’t always make good principals. From what I saw, administrators were teachers who 1) were lousy teachers; and/or 2) hated kids/teaching and wanted a higher-paid, cushy job where they would no longer have to deal with kids.

    From what I’ve read of this show, neither seems to be the case with this teacher.

  17. I’m glad ja has cleared things up. I mostly saw the earlier seasons and really only because it was on before Barney Miller and there was nothing else on I wanted to watch. I didn’t even like the show, just watched out of apathy.

    As for the number of episodes, back in the day the main season was 26 weeks and most shows strove to film that many episodes (and some did even more). After the first 13 weeks you got the mid-season replacements. Then 13 weeks in the summer for tryouts and a final 13 for reruns or whatever.

  18. “I’m glad ja has cleared things up”

    Clearly ja is a very affirmative person.

  19. From what I gather, WB,K was about a school exactly like the one I worked in during its years of availability; probably a good thing I didn’t see it . . . it’d’ve been like bringing my work home.

  20. Anti-geezers are a fascinating phenomenon, especially when they dredge up something that ends up much better known as a “throwback reference” than it ever was in its day. “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” is a perfect example. If someone had quoted it to a random kid in 1980, I’m sure they wouldn’t have gotten the reference unless they’d just seen that episode. Anyone have others?

  21. “Welcome Back, Kotter” itself may be a Geezer Reference, but the monologue Adam is quoting is not. I can’t find it quoted widely (or at all) in the internet, It’s not a meme. I don’t think it’s a reference we are supposed to get, it’s just something meant to make Adam look weird when the source is revealed at the end of the strip.

  22. “Good teachers don’t always make good principals. ”

    Other than TV ratings there is actually zero evidence Kotter was actually a good teacher. In four years none of his students ever graduated, advanced a level, or learned anything.

    Television dynamics aside, there is more to being a good teacher than not being a stuffed shirt.

  23. I can’t think of any impression I may have of Welcome Back Kotter other than the theme song.

    Would the Pearls comic have worked better with a Hollywood Squares reference?

    Also, didn’t we have a similar discussion with this comic a little while ago?

  24. Grawlix: I don’t see any posts in the last two years with the Pearls Before Swine tag that have the Hollywood Squares comic.

  25. I’m with you Grawlix. I seem to remember a Brady Bunch discussion, too. Maybe not Pearls Before Swine, but something…something…

  26. @ WW – Would it be possible to put a “Brady Bunch” tag on both this post and the one you just linked to?

  27. If someone had quoted it to a random kid in 1980, I’m sure they wouldn’t
    have gotten the reference unless they’d just seen that episode.

    In the 70s (and well into the 80s) syndicated BB reruns were a stable for local rebroadcast in the after-school hours, particularly for independent TV stations. We didn’t have the internet, hand-held video games, and even if you had cable, the channel list was limited. So many (if not most) of us watched a lot of TV, and watched a lot of Brady Bunch. I was 17 in 1980, and by then I doubt there was a single episode I had not seen multiple times.

    I can’t speak for any random kid in 1980, but I’m pretty sure I would have gotten the the reference (not that I’m necessarily a good reference for typical). While the reference may be from a particular episode, Jan’s jealousy of Marcia was standard plot fodder and a driving factor in multiple episodes, and “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” perfectly encapsulates that repeated plot device.

  28. @CaroZ: other cultural reference that are older than the kids who know them (at least the ones I can think of) mostly derive from movies using old songs. Examples: the entire Guardians of the Galaxy sound track, “I like to move it” from Penguins of Madascar, songs like “Life could be a dream” and even “Life is a Highway” in Cars.

  29. Maybe I was thinking of the discussion at the Go Comics site. I had read several weeks’ worth of strips just recently. That might account for my deja vu.

  30. As i said I don’t remember the “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” at all. When I read about it as an internet meme I sort of assumed it was meant to be said will shameful shake of a head and a repetitious sigh “Oh… marcia, marcia, marcia…. (you are so … marcia-like)” I didn’t realize it was supposed to be an irritated jealous “Marcia, marcia, marcia …. (all I hear about is marcia!)”

  31. And what was the context / affect of the “Judy, Judy, Judy” line standardly used by impressionists doing Cary Grant?

  32. Last year there was a show in which several of the former Brady children and a construction crew went to the house which was shown as the exterior of the Brady home – purchased for this later show – and they redid the inside to match the sets used on the the Brady Bunch. Robert did not watch the entire series so I don’t know how it came out, but “Marsha” is now on a second, unrelated, house fixup show.

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