Taxi (TV series)

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Taxi
Taxi title screen.jpg
Taxi title screen
FormatSitcom
Created byJames L. Brooks
Stan Daniels
David Davis
Ed. Weinberger
Starring
Theme music composerBob James
Opening theme"Angela"
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes114 (List of episodes)
Production
Running time24 minutes
Production company(s)John Charles Walters Productions
Paramount Network Television
DistributorCBS Television Distribution
The Program Exchange
Broadcast
Original channelABC (1978–1982)
NBC (1982–1983)
Original runSeptember 12, 1978 – June 15, 1983
 
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Taxi
Taxi title screen.jpg
Taxi title screen
FormatSitcom
Created byJames L. Brooks
Stan Daniels
David Davis
Ed. Weinberger
Starring
Theme music composerBob James
Opening theme"Angela"
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes114 (List of episodes)
Production
Running time24 minutes
Production company(s)John Charles Walters Productions
Paramount Network Television
DistributorCBS Television Distribution
The Program Exchange
Broadcast
Original channelABC (1978–1982)
NBC (1982–1983)
Original runSeptember 12, 1978 – June 15, 1983

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

Premise and themes[edit]

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 Rieger, who is disillusioned with life, considers cab-driving his profession. The others view it as a temporary job that they can leave behind after they succeed in their chosen careers.

Elaine Nardo is 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) was 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 included Latka Gravas, their innocently 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 or her 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 DePalma, their cruel dispatcher. Louie's assistant, Jeff Bennett, is rarely heard from at first, but his role increases in later seasons.

Sunshine Cab goes through a change of owners. They are referred to, but seldom seen: Ed McKenzie (who appears in one episode, played by Stephen Elliott), and, later, Ben Ratlidge (who is also only seen in one episode, played by Allen Garfield).

Despite the zany humor of the show, Taxi often tackled such dramatic issues as drug addiction, single parenthood, blindness, obesity, animal abuse, bisexuality, teenage runaways, failed marriage, nuclear war, sexual harassment, pre-menstrual mood disorders, gambling addiction, and the loss of a loved one.

Cast[edit]

This table does not count the two-part "Taxi Celebration/Retrospective"

ActorRoleYearsSeasons
Judd HirschAlex Rieger1978–19831–5
Danny DeVitoLouie De Palma
Marilu HennerElaine O'Connor Nardo
Tony DanzaAnthony Mark "Tony" Banta
J. Alan ThomasJeff Bennett1–5 (Supporting)
Christopher LloydReverend Jim 'Iggy' Ignatowski1 (Guest), 2 (Guest then Star), 3–5 (Star)
Jeff ConawayBobby Wheeler1978–19821–3 (Star), 4 (3 Episodes)
Andy KaufmanLatka Gravas1978–19831–5 (Starring Credit When Present)
T.J. CastronovaTommy Jeffries (Bartender At Mario's)1979–19831–5 (Supporting)
Randall CarverJohn Burns1978–19791
Carol KaneSimka Gravas1980–19832 (1 Episode), 4 (2 Episodes), 5 (starring credit when present)
Rhea PerlmanZena Sherman/Louie's Girlfriend41978–19831–5 (guest star)

Main cast[edit]

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

Recurring guest cast[edit]

Guest stars[edit]

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 and boxing referee Jimmy Lennon portray themselves in separate episodes. George Wendt and Ted Danson, who appears in separate episodes, went on to star in primary Taxi director Jim Burrows' next series, Cheers.

Awards and nominations[edit]

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.[9]

Awards[edit]

Emmy Awards:

Golden Globe Awards:

Additional nominations[edit]

Emmy Awards:

Golden Globe Awards:

Production[edit]

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.

Production notes[edit]

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 didn't, 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.[12]

Opening sequence[edit]

The opening titles show a 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.

The external establishing shot of the Sunshine Cab Company was of an actual taxi garage and gas station located on Charles and Hudson streets in New York's West Village. The building has since been demolished, and an apartment building and a Rite Aid pharmacy went up on the site.[13]

Theme music[edit]

Bob James wrote the opening theme, "Angela", which was originally intended for a sequence in episode #3 ("Blind Date"). The producers liked this slower, more melancholy tune better than the up-tempo opening theme they had initially chosen ("Touchdown"). Both songs are on James's 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.

Episodes[edit]

On ABC, the first two seasons aired Tuesdays at 9:30, the third season aired Wednesdays at 9:00 and Thursdays at 9:30 and the fourth season aired Thursdays at 9:30. On NBC, the final season aired Thursdays at 9:30, Wednesdays at 9:30 and 10:30 and Saturdays at 9:30.

Cast reunions[edit]

Danny DeVito hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live 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 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 Taxi cast who didn't reprise their roles were Danny DeVito, who produced and co-starred in the film as Kaufman's manager George Shapiro, and Tony Danza. Kaufman had never gotten along with Danza during the taping of the original Taxi series, and because of this, Danza felt it would be hypocritical to appear in the film.[citation needed]

Several of the surviving cast members (along with surviving 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 made mention of wanting to make a Taxi reunion movie.[14][15][16] There has yet to be any news of this project moving forward.

References in popular culture[edit]

DVD releases[edit]

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 2004-2005. 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 in conjunction with CBS Home Entertainment). Only seasons 1 & 2 have been released in Region 2.

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
The Fourth Season24September 22, 2009TBA
The (Fifth &) Final Season24December 22, 2009TBA

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.marksfriggin.com/news08/2-4.htm#thu
  2. ^ "Danny Devito: Biography". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  3. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0621369/
  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. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0621369/
  6. ^ Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And all the Brilliant Minds Who Made Them by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, pg 242
  7. ^ Jeff Sorensen, The Taxi Book, St. Martin's Press, 1987, p. 39.
  8. ^ http://books.google.com/books?id=ab0zAQAAIAAJ&q=j-alan-thomas+taxi&dq=j-alan-thomas+taxi&hl=en&sa=X&ei=OZ60UtP4HIXnoASpt4CoCA&ved=0CDsQ6AEwAg
  9. ^ "Special Collector's Issue: 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time". TV Guide (June 28-July 4). 1997. 
  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. ^ "Google street view". 
  14. ^ "Danny Devito—Devito Calls For Taxi Movie". Contactmusic.com. 
  15. ^ "Danny DeVito Calls For 'Taxi' Movie". Starpulse Entertainment News. 
  16. ^ "A 'Taxi' Reunion?". Extra. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]