Taxi (TV series)

Last updated
Taxi
Taxi title screen.jpg
Genre Sitcom
Created by
Starring
Theme music composer Bob James
Opening theme"Angela"
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes114 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
Producers
Production locationsStage 23, Paramount Studios, Hollywood, California
Camera setup Multiple-camera
Running time24 minutes
Production companies
Distributor Paramount Domestic Television
Release
Original network
  • ABC (1978–1982)
  • NBC (1982–1983)
Picture format NTSC
Audio format Monaural
Original releaseSeptember 12, 1978 (1978-09-12) 
June 15, 1983 (1983-06-15)

Taxi is an American sitcom that originally aired on ABC from September 12, 1978, to May 6, 1982, and on NBC from September 30, 1982, to June 15, 1983. The series won 18 Emmy Awards, including three for Outstanding Comedy Series. It focuses on the everyday lives of a handful of New York City taxi drivers and their abusive dispatcher. Taxi was produced by the John Charles Walters Company, in association with Paramount Network Television, and was created by James L. Brooks, Stan Daniels, David Davis, and Ed. Weinberger.

Contents

For most of the run of the show, the ensemble cast consisted of taxi drivers Alex Reiger (Judd Hirsch), Bobby Wheeler (Jeff Conaway), Elaine Nardo (Marilu Henner), Tony Banta (Tony Danza), and "Reverend" Jim Ignatowski (Christopher Lloyd), along with their dispatcher Louie De Palma (Danny DeVito) and mechanic Latka Gravas (Andy Kaufman).

The show was a critical and commercial success, having been nominated for 31 Emmy Awards and winning 13, including three straight years winning Outstanding Comedy. It has remained in syndicated reruns ever since the series ended.

Premise and themes

The show focuses on the employees of the fictional Sunshine Cab Company, and its principal setting is the company's fleet garage in Manhattan. Among the drivers, only Alex Reiger, who is disillusioned with life, considers cab driving his profession. The others view it as a temporary job.

Elaine Nardo is a single mother working as a receptionist at an art gallery. Tony Banta is a boxer with a losing record. Bobby Wheeler is a struggling actor. John Burns (written out of the show after the first season) is working his way through college. All take pity on "Reverend Jim" Ignatowski, an aging hippie minister, who is burnt out from drugs, so they help him become a cabbie. The characters also include Latka Gravas, their innocent, wide-eyed mechanic from an unnamed foreign country, and Louie De Palma, the despotic dispatcher.

A number of episodes involve a character having an opportunity to realize his dream to move up in the world, only to see it yanked away. Otherwise, the cabbies deal on a daily basis with their unsatisfying lives and with Louie's abusive behavior and contempt (despite being a former cab driver himself). Louie's assistant, Jeff Bennett, is rarely heard from at first, but his role increases in later seasons.

Despite the humor of the show, Taxi often tackles such dramatic life issues as drug addiction, single parenthood, blindness, obesity, dissociative identity disorder, animal abuse, homosexuality, racism, teenage runaways, divorce, nuclear war, sexual harassment, premenstrual mood disorders, gambling addiction, and grief.

Cast and characters

Main

CharacterActorSeasons
12345
Alex Reiger Judd Hirsch Main
Bobby Wheeler Jeff Conaway Main Recurring [lower-alpha 1]
Louie De Palma Danny DeVito Main
Elaine O'Connor Nardo Marilu Henner Main
Anthony Mark "Tony" Banta Tony Danza Main
Latka Gravas Andy Kaufman Main
John Burns Randall Carver Main
Reverend Jim "Iggy" Ignatowski Christopher Lloyd Guest Main
Simka Gravas Carol Kane Guest Recurring Main
    1. Conaway is credited alongside the main cast for two episodes, which were held over from season 3, and makes one further appearance credited as a special guest star.


    Cast of the debut season (ABC, 1978-79). From left to right: (back) Marilu Henner, Judd Hirsch; (middle) Andy Kaufman, Jeff Conaway, Tony Danza; (front) Randall Carver, Danny DeVito Taxi cast ABC first season.jpg
    Cast of the debut season (ABC, 1978–79). From left to right: (back) Marilu Henner, Judd Hirsch; (middle) Andy Kaufman, Jeff Conaway, Tony Danza; (front) Randall Carver, Danny DeVito
    Cast of the final season (NBC, 1982-83). From left to right: (back) Kaufman, Carol Kane, DeVito, Hirsch; (front) Danza, Henner, Christopher Lloyd Taxi NBC cast final season.jpg
    Cast of the final season (NBC, 1982–83). From left to right: (back) Kaufman, Carol Kane, DeVito, Hirsch; (front) Danza, Henner, Christopher Lloyd

    Recurring

    Guests

    Among the many guest stars, Ruth Gordon won an Emmy Award for her guest portrayal of Dee Wilcox in "Sugar Mama" (1979), and Eileen Brennan was nominated for an Emmy for her guest portrayal of Mrs. McKenzie in "Thy Boss's Wife" (1981). Actresses Marcia Wallace and Penny Marshall, psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers, cookie entrepreneur Wally "Famous" Amos, newscaster Edwin Newman, journalist Eric Sevareid, actor Hervé Villechaize and ring announcer Jimmy Lennon portrayed themselves in separate episodes.

    George Wendt and Ted Danson, who appeared in separate episodes, went on to star in primary Taxi director Jim Burrows' next series, Cheers , as did recurring Taxi performer Rhea Perlman. Tom Selleck also had a memorable guest appearance, constituting one of the memorable fares of Cab 804, while Tom Hanks portrayed Reverend Jim's college roommate in the flashback episode "The Road Not Taken, Part 1".

    WBC world welterweight champion Carlos Palomino appeared in the episode "One-Punch Banta" as himself (season 1, episode 2, original air date September 19, 1978). In that scene Palomino accidentally punches Tony in the face when he failed to pull his punch. Allan Arbus, who portrayed US Army psychiatrist Dr. Sidney Freedman in M*A*S*H , played his manager in the episode. Football player-turned-actor Bubba Smith appeared in one episode. Martial artist and professional wrestler Gene LeBell played himself in multiple episodes as the referee for Tony Banta's boxing matches.

    Episodes

    SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
    First airedLast airedNetwork
    1 22September 12, 1978 (1978-09-12)May 15, 1979 (1979-05-15) ABC
    2 24September 11, 1979 (1979-09-11)May 13, 1980 (1980-05-13)
    3 20November 19, 1980 (1980-11-19)May 21, 1981 (1981-05-21)
    4 24October 18, 1981 (1981-10-18)May 6, 1982 (1982-05-06)
    5 24September 30, 1982 (1982-09-30)June 15, 1983 (1983-06-15) NBC

    Awards and nominations

    Taxi is one of television's most lauded shows. During its run, the sitcom was nominated for 31 Emmy Awards and won 18, including three for Outstanding Comedy Series. It was also nominated for 25 Golden Globes, with four wins (three for Best TV Series – Musical/Comedy). In 1979, it received the Humanitas Prize in the 30 minute category. It was also ranked 48th in TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. In 1997, two of the show's episodes, "Latka the Playboy" and "Reverend Jim: A Space Odyssey" were respectively ranked #19 and #63 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time. [8] In 2013, the series was ranked #35 on TV Guide's 60 Best Series of All Time. [9]

    Awards

    Emmy Awards:

    Golden Globe Awards:

    Additional nominations

    Emmy Awards:

    Golden Globe Awards:

    Production

    Taxi was inspired by the non-fiction article "Night-Shifting for the Hip Fleet" by Mark Jacobson, which appeared in the September 22, 1975, issue of New York magazine. [10] This article helped suggest the idea for the show to James L. Brooks and David Davis, though nothing from the article was used directly. [11] The article was a profile of several drivers who worked the night shift for a New York cab company.

    The series was produced on Stage 23 at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, California, from July 5, 1978, to February 18, 1983.

    When the series was cancelled by ABC, it seemed for a time that the premium cable television network HBO would pick up the series. When it did not, the series was picked up by NBC, which at first kept it on at its ABC time slot of Thursday 9:30 p.m following the first season of Cheers . An NBC promo for Taxi's move to the network featured Danny DeVito in character as Louie saying "Same time, better station!" [12]

    The taxicabs shown in the show are Checker A11s.

    Opening and closing sequence

    The opening titles show a Checker cab driving east across the Queensboro Bridge. The footage originally was intended as a "bridge" between scenes and is only about fifteen seconds long; parts of it are repeated to fill the opening. Driving the vehicle is cast-member Tony Danza. [13] The closing version consisted of a cab driving into the night.

    Theme music

    Bob James wrote the opening theme, "Angela", which had been intended for a sequence in episode #3 ("Blind Date"). The producers liked this slower, more melancholic tune better than the up-tempo opening theme they had originally chosen ("Touchdown"), and were able to make the switch before the first episode aired. Both songs are on James' 1978 album, Touchdown .

    In 1983, James released The Genie, an LP containing much of the incidental music he had written for Taxi during its run.

    Syndication

    Reruns of Taxi began airing in syndication in 1983 on 64 television stations immediately after NBC cancelled the program. It has been airing in syndication every year since. The program also aired on Nick at Nite from 1994 to 2001. Taxi currently reruns Sunday nights on MeTV as part of the "Last Laughs" block. Hulu, Amazon Prime, and CBS All Access have all the seasons, but not all the episodes. In the UK, Taxi aired on BBC1 with repeats airing on Paramount Comedy 2 and CBS Drama. As of 2020, the series has been airing weeknights on Decades as part of their “Smart Coms Across The Decades” block. Decades has also aired “Taxi” as a weekend binge.

    Cast reunions

    Danny DeVito hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live (on NBC) soon after Taxi was canceled after the fourth season. During the opening monologue, DeVito read a letter supposedly from his mother asking God to forgive ABC for cancelling the show, adding that "but I'll understand if you don't." A filmed bit had him driving around New York looking morose until inspiration strikes, and he blows up the ABC building. In addition, the Taxi cast members were given an opportunity for closure, which up to that point had been denied for them due to the abrupt cancellation. The actors took their "final" bows during DeVito's opening monologue, only to have NBC (which aired SNL) pick up the show.

    Decades later, most of the cast returned to play their younger selves and briefly re-enact scenes for the Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon . Judd Hirsch, Marilu Henner, Jeff Conaway, Carol Kane, Randall Carver, J. Alan Thomas and Christopher Lloyd all reprised their roles. The only two living members of the principal cast who did not were Danny DeVito, who produced and co-starred in the film as Kaufman's manager George Shapiro, and Tony Danza, who at the time of filming was performing in A View from the Bridge on Broadway. [14]

    Several of the cast members (along with cast members from other Judd Hirsch and Bob Newhart vehicles) reunited in different roles for an episode of the Judd Hirsch/Bob Newhart series George & Leo .

    In January 2009, Danny DeVito mentioned wanting to make a Taxi reunion movie. [15] [16] [17]

    Home media

    All five seasons of Taxi have been released from Paramount Home Entertainment. The first three seasons of Taxi were released on DVD in Region 1 between 2004 and 2005. It took almost four years until Paramount released The Fourth Season on September 22, 2009, and The (Fifth &) Final Season on December 22, 2009 (the last two seasons were released through CBS Home Entertainment). As of October 2014, all seasons have been released in Germany (Region 2).

    On November 11, 2014, CBS Home Entertainment released Taxi- The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1. All 114 episodes are featured on a 17-disc collection. [18]

    DVD NameEp #Release dates
    Region 1Region 2
    The Complete First Season22October 12, 2004April 28, 2008
    The Complete Second Season24February 1, 2005February 9, 2009
    The Complete Third Season20September 13, 2005TBA[ contradictory ]
    The Fourth Season24September 22, 2009TBA[ contradictory ]
    The (Fifth &) Final Season24December 22, 2009TBA[ contradictory ]
    The Complete Series114November 11, 2014TBA

    Footnotes

    1. "The Lost Roles of Robin Williams". 31 March 2011.
    2. "MarksFriggin.com - Stern Show News - Archive". marksfriggin.com. Retrieved 2014-11-15.
    3. "Danny Devito: Biography". TV Guide . Retrieved 2008-10-03.
    4. Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And all the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, pg 242
    5. Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And all the Brilliant Minds Who Made Them by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, pg 242
    6. Jeff Sorensen, The Taxi Book, St. Martin's Press, 1987, p. 39.
    7. Willis, J.; Monush, B. (2000). John Willis' Screen World. Vol. 51. Applause Books. ISBN   9781557834317 . Retrieved 2014-11-15.
    8. "Special Collector's Issue: 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time". TV Guide (June 28 – July 4). 1997.
    9. "TV Guide Magazine's 60 Best Series of All Time". December 23, 2013.
    10. Jacobson, Mark (September 22, 1975). "Night-Shifting for the Hip Fleet". New York .
    11. Jeff Sorensen, The Taxi Book, St. Martin's Press, 1987, p. 3.
    12. The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present . Ballantine Books. 2003. p. 1174. ISBN   0-345-45542-8.
    13. "15 Behind-the-Scenes Facts About Taxi". 12 September 2018.
    14. ""Man On The Moon" shoot starts". 8 August 1998. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
    15. "Danny Devito—Devito Calls For Taxi Movie". Contactmusic.com.
    16. "Danny DeVito Calls For 'Taxi' Movie". Starpulse Entertainment News.
    17. "A 'Taxi' Reunion?". Extra.
    18. "Taxi DVD news: Announcement for Taxi - The Complete Series - TVShowsOnDVD.com". www.tvshowsondvd.com. Archived from the original on 2014-08-26.

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    References