I LOVE LUCY
DICK VAN DYKE
MARY TYLER MOORE
ALL IN THE FAMILY
The Classic Sitcoms Guide to...
Season One: 1978-79
THE FIRST SEASON
Year-End Rating: 24.9 (9th place)
Taxi's ragtag ensemble springs to life in first-season stories
that detail the aspirations and frustrations of the colorful gang at
New York's Sunshine Cab Company. First-season scripts are written under
the watchful eyes of executive producers James L. Brooks, Stan Daniels,
David Davis, and Ed. Weinberger, with significant contributions from
producers Glen Charles and Les Charles, and writers Earl Pomerantz and
Barry Kemp, among others.
James Burrows directs practically all premiere-season episodes, as
he will continue to do throughout the show's first four years. Bud Cherry
is the first year's associate producer, and James L. Brooks receives
a credit as executive consultant.
With all the cabbies in tow, Alex drives to Miami for a surprise reunion
with the daughter he hasn't seen in fifteen years.
One of the best-written--and most economical--opening episodes ever
devised for a situation comedy. In the space of a single half hour,
the writers skillfully introduce each fully developed character in the
cast of seven, with time left over for the touching sequence where Alex
finally meets his estranged teenage daughter in the lobby of the Miami
airport. Father and daughter attempt to compress the scattered emotions
of fifteen lost years into a few short minutes in a wholly satisfying
blend of comedy and pathos that would be the hallmark of this most sophisticated
Tony's lucky punch during a sparring round earns him a once-in-a-lifetime
bout with World Champion Carlos Navarone.
Actor Tony Danza had actually been a struggling New York middleweight
before he turned to acting. Ironically, his greatest success in the
ring came after he'd hung up his gloves to join Taxi, when a
canny promoter arranged for the celebrity to box his last match in New
York's Madison Square Garden after the conclusion of the show's first
Alex, stuck on a date with an overweight and overbearing woman, refuses
to let her bitterness spoil their evening.
Bobby's self-imposed deadline to land an acting job is about to expire,
and the struggling actor has no prospects in sight.
Elaine convinces Alex to be her date at a fancy party and then insists
that he not tell anyone that they both work as cabbies at night.
The shy young woman who leaves the party on Latka's arm is actually
Emmy Award-winning writer Treva Silverman in a rare cameo appearance.
John develops second thoughts after he finds himself married to a girl
he met at Mario's the night before.
Ashamed of what his classmates might think of him, Louie convinces
Bobby to attend the dispatcher's twentieth high-school reunion in his
Latka gets a disillusioning view of American mating rituals when he
marries a call girl to qualify for U.S. citizenship.
The ceremony is presided over by the Reverend Jim Ignatowski, an ordained
minister and bona fide relic of the 1960s, who is recruited from Mario's
Bar and Grill. "He wasn't intended to be a permanent character," recalled
writer Glen Charles. "But," adds executive producer Ed. Weinberger,
"from the first minute Christopher Lloyd hit the stage, he was destined
to stay. That very night, we all agreed we had to get him on the show."
After John's wealthy in-laws move to Florida, he and his new wife turn
to Alex for a friendly--and sizable--loan.
Ellen Regan returns as John's young wife, Suzanne.
Tony tries to dump his possessive girlfriend after she takes a job
at the cab company just to be near him.
After John wrecks cab 804, the cabbies pay tribute to the beloved taxi
with fond recollections of memorable shifts spent behind its wheel.
The cabbies' vigil continues as Elaine recalls an unusual date she
had in 804, and Alex recounts how the cab once served as a makeshift
Elaine's handsome stranger is played by Tom Selleck, in a role that
predated his prime-time success in Magnum, P.I. by two years.
The sequence where Alex delivers a baby in the backseat of cab 804
while the anxious dad peers over his shoulder demonstrates the show's
wide emotional range. The story effortlessly switches gears from high
comedy to a moment of compelling drama without missing a beat.
The nervous papa was played by Mandy Patinkin, a New York actor who
had been the producers' first choice for the role of Taxi's struggling
thespian well before Jeff Conaway landed the part. Patinkin turned it
down, perfectly content to remain in Manhattan, where he achieved continued
success on stage and in feature films.
Alex and Louie team up in a high-stakes poker game against the dispatcher's
disreputable brother, Nick.
Richard Foronjy was a last-minute replacement in the role of Louie's
brother. Taxi cast member Andy Kaufman had originally been set
to play Nick De Palma in the guise of Tony Clifton, the lounge-lizard
character that Kaufman often used to warm-up his nightclub act. As part
of the joke, the conceptual performer maintained that he and Tony were
actually two different people. It seemed a harmless-enough stunt, until
things took an ugly turn on the first day of rehearsal, when Kaufman
refused to drop the obnoxious character, onstage or off.
As spoiled nightclub performer Tony Clifton, Kaufman ordered cases
of liquor delivered to his trailer on the Paramount lot, where he holed
up with a pair of ladies he'd brought along for companionship. By the
third day, he refused to show up for rehearsals--venturing out of his
trailer just long enough to heap abuse on fellow actors, stagehands,
and anyone else who dared cross his supposedly temperamental path.
Executive producer Ed. Weinberger finally summoned Kaufman to his
office, where the comic meekly suggested that Tony Clifton be fired,
preferably on the soundstage and in front of the entire crew--a request
to which the producer gladly complied. "It was all part of Andy's theater,"
remembers producer Glen Charles. "But it was not as much fun as it sounds.
It was a very troubled week."
Alex's conscience bothers him after he accepts cash and extravagant
gifts from an eccentric old woman who rides in his cab for companionship.
Tony ends his friendship with Bobby after the irresponsible actor accidentally
allows Tony's beloved pet goldfish to die.
Louie resolves to mend his irascible ways after he survives a nerve-racking
Alex fixes Elaine up with an inept Congressman, convinced that an evening
fiery redhead will do wonders for the legislator's sagging confidence.
Elaine eventually decides to sleep with the hapless politician, only
to face an awkward morning-after scene when she realizes that her therapeutic
solution has caused more problems than it's solved. The series's depiction
of Elaine as a single, sexually independent woman was a refreshing breakthrough
for situation comedy. Unfortunately, television tastes were receding
so rapidly that the show's mature sophistication would have little direct
impact on the increasingly childish sitcoms of the era.
Bobby tears up his hack license after he lands a part on a soap opera,
but his grandiose exit soon proves premature.
Latka demands that Alex marry his mother after the cabbie's date with
the lusty Brunhilde ends in an evening of spirited "nik nik."
The garage's peculiar mechanic was largely the creation of Andy Kaufman,
who was cast in the show after the producers saw him hold a nightclub
audience spellbound in his persona as a stuttering, painfully shy immigrant.
Recognizing a good thing at once, the producers simply threw a pair
of white coveralls on the character, named him Latka Gravas, and wrote
him into the very first show. The show's writers loved Latka, whose
strange language and behavior afforded them ample opportunity for offbeat
explorations of his surreal world.
After Alex is nearly killed by a mugger, he abandons the garage to
become a waiter in a four-star restaurant.
The cabbies are star-struck when a Hollywood producer arrives to absorb
background for a movie based on life in a New York taxi garage.
Comedian Martin Mull was fondly remembered for his portrayal of twin
brothers Garth and Barth Gimble on Norman Lear's Mary Hartman, Mary
Hartman and its spinoffs, Fernwood 2-Night and America
The cabbies become substitute daddies when Elaine leaves her nine-year-old
in their care after she's suddenly called out of town.
This episode marked the final appearance of cabbie John Burns. The
character was dropped as the producers pared the ensemble in preparation
for the arrival of Jim Ignatowski in the second season. As producer
Ed. Weinberger observed, "We just had too many people. We couldn't write