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Taxi ran for five seasons on television and sadly came to an end when
too many of its cast members decided to strike out on their own and
most had really successful careers. Can you imagine a show where Danny
DeVito, Tony Danza, Andy Kaufman, and Christopher Lloyd all appeared
and many times in the same episodes? Getting them at their full market
big screen value would cause any studio to go chapter 11.
All of these people got their first big break on Taxi a comedy with only one set for most of the episodes. DeVito was cab dispatcher Louis DiPalma, a bully and a tyrant who reveled in his rule over the lives of his drivers. DeVito had few redeeming qualities other than he was a realist. Part of his realism was stepping on the dreams of others.
People like Tony Danza who drove a cab to pay the rent, but was really a boxer looking for the career path upwards and more than likely missed it drove for DeVito. Jeff Conaway was an actor who drove between gigs as most of the actors I know do something else for a living and dream of becoming stars. John Randall Carver was a young law student who left after a season. Marilu Henner was a divorcée and constantly avoiding the innuendos of DeVito of which there were plenty. She was sexually harassed, maybe the most sexually harassed woman ever to be a television character.
Funniest of all was Christopher Lloyd who was a drugged out refugee of the 60s. He replaced Carver and DeVito's barbs never bothered him because he dealt with them through ignorance. A lot like the way Chico Marx dealt with Groucho in their films.
The only one who could really deal with DeVito was Judd Hirsch who was as much New York as Jerry Orbach on Law And Order. He was a 40 something man who had no attachments and no pretensions, he drove a cab to earn a living and liked his job. He was friend and counselor to all and was one of the favorite characters I liked in all the decades of watching the tube.
Lastly there was Andy Kaufman who sadly did not live long after Taxi finished its run. He was unique to say the least in his comedy. The garage mechanic from some unnamed Eastern European country which allowed Kaufman to develop his own accent for his own country. He drove DeVito and the rest nuts with his nonsequiters in a foreign accent.
Taxi had one of the great ensemble casts in the history of television and incubated many a career still going to this day.
More so, than anything, it's the characters and their committed performances that make the show work. We really get into their lives at the cab rank. Christopher Lyodd is a classic, Judd Hirsch likable, as so the late unforgotten Jeff Conaway, in more happier times, as well as the impulsive and enterprising Tony Daanza, where it's really groucho old Danny Devito's great acting that steals the show. It is entertaining, and quite funny, and when it is, it's gold sometimes, but it just doesn't stack up the comedy quota. The show's theme is great, and in it's after ending, it's always great to see the human creator, resigning himself, from the office, to take off for the weekend. Still Taxi is very entertaining, where may'be I would of found it more funnier at the time, when I saw it as a kid, or even if I was an adult in that time. Watch it especially for Devito and LYODD. One show especially funny, has Hirsch, developing a gambling addiction. Hey, how many taxi drivers have them?
When Jim Brooks, David Davis, Ed. Weinberger and Stan Daniels left MTM
to form their own production company, they applied what worked well for
them on shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda to create and
produce their own show and it would become Taxi.
The show was a true ensemble comedy like The Mary Tyler Moore Show with outstanding writing and a great cast with nobody dominating the story lines like Fonzie on Happy Days and Urkel on Family Matters,
The cast was anchored by Judd Hirsch, who played career cabbie Alex Rieger. He's the father figure of the bunch and supportive to would be boxer Tony Banta, played by Tony Danza, aspiring actor Bobby Wheeler, played by Jeff Conaway and the lone female driver Elaine Nardo, portrayed by Marilu Henner.
Also adding to the hysteria was Andy Kaufman as mechanic Latka, who comes from an unidentified foreign country. He created his mannerisms and language that brought a lot to each episode he was in.
But to me, the best character on the show was Louie DePalma, the nasty dispatcher that turned out to be the role that put Danny DeVito on the map. DeVito's portrayal of Louie turned to be the meanest boss on TV since Mr. Slate on The Flintstones. One the other side of the coin, Taxi was also the show that he worked with the woman who would become his wife, Rhea Perlman.
Another character who to me was very funny was Reverend Jim, the Christopher Lloyd character who became a regular in the second season after Randall Carver was let go. His portrayal of a burned out hippie, especially in the episode where he took his driver's test was outstanding.
One other character who came along later in the run was Simka Dahblitz, played by Carol Kane. She would later marry Latka.
The show would also be the launching pad for brothers Glen and Les Charles, who would later team up with James Burrows to create and produce another classic comedy, Cheers. Though Taxi won 18 Emmys and had a healthy five year run, it was sent to the garage after moving to NBC in the 1982-83 season. I'll close with the tag line that was heard after the closing credits "Thank you Mr. Walters."
Had this show been recent, I wouldn't have rated it 10 stars. The
pacing of the episodes is usually slow. Some episodes are not properly
finished. The writing is lazy after season 1. Some of the actors'
comedic signature moves take longer than necessary. And I find the
social and psychological topics more than a bit tiring.
I saw this show on reruns, and it wasn't exactly a part of my childhood memories. And yet, I liked it. Binge-watching it after all these years, I still like it despite its many flaws. I like how the actors don't take themselves very seriously, even in the more serious episodes. I like how, mostly Ms Henner and some of the other actors, cannot contain themselves (or maybe even don't try to) in some scenes. I like the not-really-trying-hard feeling of the production. The show has some sort of 'we can do it more professionally but we're choosing not to' feel. I think the last show I saw with a similar attitude was Just Shoot Me.
There's no need to rate informatively a 35 year old sitcom. My rating is totally sentimental but who cares... 10 star out of 10, for being whatever it is.
And Christopher Lloyd is amazing as Reverend Jim. Reverend Jim's lines are literally ahead of their times. This character can find a place in any sitcom of today, as is.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Memorable television show depicting life in a tax cab company.
What a cast! Christopher Lloyd and Danny DeVito, both of whom had starred in the Oscar winning film-"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," as inmates, starred in this winning show.
Judd Hirsch, who took time off to win a nomination as best supporting actor in "Ordinary People," also starred in this mayhem.
Who can forget Carol Kane of "Hester Street" fame in this riot of a show as well?
DeVito, as Louie, was always up to something. He was always into fooling everyone but we laughed heartily at his pranks.
Finally, we loved Andy Kaufman for his antics. His premature death deprived America of one of its greatest comics.
"Taxi" is on syndication for a long period of time which shows how great "Taxi" was. Many shows go on syndication and just die with dated material, over acting, thin plots, and lose their originality. "Taxi" has timeless material, and will never lose its originality because of the intense plots, and excellent execution of the comedy from its actors. Danny, Judge, and Christopher were great actors. I will never forget the episode were Louie goes to Riger's apartment, because Jim has a vision of Riger meeting death at the door. Death turns out to be a girl guide. The Can Can dance with the baseball mask was hilarious. Too bad they have the thin plotted and predictable "Cosby show" on TBS. Other funny memorable shows were the bomb shelter, and Jim giving away his inheritance. Timeless classics. I hope they never remake this show for it will probably bomb compared to the original. "Taxi" is too comedy, what "Star Trek" is for science fiction. Must watch.
I like 'Taxi', I appreciate the above average quality of the writing,
the good central performances given by people like Judd Hirsch and Andy
Kauffman, but for me I don't rank it as highly as other sitcoms such as
I can't fault though that this show has some lovely moments along the way. There is at least one big, big laugh in every episode.
Perhaps it went on a little too long towards the end, but it was a fun ride while it lasted.
Check it out if you get a chance.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
it is one of splendid examples of the force of persuasion of sitcoms.and proof of the importance of simplicity. few people with low social status. stories. meets. dialogues. and a great cast. this is all. nothing unpredictable. only an old story about small things, a brilliant Andy Kaufman and the unique Dany DeVito , the young Tony Danza and ...cabs. the great thing "Taxi" remains, for many of its public, a slice of personal life. because it opens a new perspective about ordinary reality. because it is almost... magic, using the humor for explore small insignificant existences. it is not easy to define it. maybe, because it is not a phenomenon or the best sitcom. only an embroidery of touching stories. about different forms to conquest or invent the happiness.
One of the very funniest ensemble US sit-coms ever, I loved "Taxi" when
it was first transmitted in the late 70's. I was too young to get into
"M.A.S.H." from the start, "Soap" started brightly then faded, "Happy
Days" and it's spin-offs were too young, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"
was only shown infrequently in the UK, "The Bob Newhart Show" wasn't
picked up at all and "Rhoda" my other favourite of the era, only played
on BBC2. "Taxi" was shown on BBC1 in the early evening and I almost
never missed an episode.
The main character I suppose was Judd Hirsch as Alex, the go-to guy for anyone with a problem, while Marilu Henner as the sassy Elaine, Jeff Conaway as moonlighting actor Bobby and Tony Banta as Tony the dim-witted boxer were prominent in support, indeed the last two of course can be seen as morphing into the character of Joey in "Friends" 20 years or so later.
The real scene-stealers of course were Danny DeVito as the nasty, lippy depot manager Louie, Christopher Lloyd as the flaky Reverend Jim Ignatowski and Andy Kaufman as the surreal man-child Latka Graves. Without "Taxi" I doubt there would have been a "Cheers" or indeed "Friends" but with very funny scripts by a talented pool of writers including David Lloyd, the Charles brothers, Ken Estin and Earl Pomeranz and produced by James L Brooks, the laugh count in each episode was usually high and the longer you lived with the characters, the more you liked and almost knew them, especially as the action almost never left the front of the depot where the characters congregated.
I've just treated myself by re-watching my favourite episode, where Louie is seduced by the boss's wife, a vamped-up superb guest-shot by Eileen Brennan, in fact I'd go as far to say it's one of the funniest comedic shows ever. They couldn't all hit that standard, of course, but the general consistency kept it going for 114 episodes. It was De Vito and to a lesser degree Lloyd who would go on to break into films and as others have said its perhaps a little surprising that no spin-off shows were ever devised.
Perhaps it's better that way though, leaving the employees of the Sunshine Cab Company in our memory as the collective band of cabbies who regularly drove us into fits of laughter, week after week.
What a fine ensemble comedy series. The writing is consistently good,
enhanced by an outstanding core cast. The usually calm and cool Judd
Hirsch is perfect as Alex the series anchor, along with the talented
Marilu Henner as Elaine. They're the voice of normalcy, plus Elaine's
real eye-candy relief from all the guys. Then there're the kooks, Andy
Kaufman as the wide-eyed Latka and Chris Lloyd as the drugged-out Jim.
Their antics amount to guaranteed guffaws. And, of course, there're the
two squirrelly hunks Jeff Conaway (Bobby) and Tony Danza (Banta). But
maybe most of all is Danny DeVito as the obnoxious Louie, the spoon
that stirs the pot. All in all, Louie is unlike any TV character I've
seen and when he comes charging out of his cage, it's like a small ball
of demonic energy cut loose.
Taxi is one of the few series that gets better as it progresses. Bringing Chris Lloyd in full time added another unique character, along with Carol Kane (Simka) who then gets to trade foreign gibberish with Latka. And even when the story thread might falter, the character byplay is strong enough to carry the ball. The whole mix is often hilarious, with the Taxi garage as a familiar backdrop.
Still, there's often an undercurrent of poignancy since the younger guys consider the taxi job only temporary. They dream fondly of a fancier career that's probably just that, a dream. Meanwhile they've found camaraderie and good friends, which, all in all, is one of life's real treasures. Hopefully, they'll find that out before it's too late. Meanwhile, we've found a great 30-minutes of weekly entertainment.
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