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The Classic Sitcoms Guide to...
Season One: 1978-79

SEASON ONE: 1978-79
SEASON TWO: 1979-80
SEASON FOUR: 1981-82
SEASON FIVE: 1982-83

Get Taxi on DVD


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.

1 Like Father, Like Daughter    First Aired: September 12, 1978
Writers: James L. Brooks, Stan Daniels, David Davis, Ed. Weinberger
Director: James Burrows
Guest Stars: Talia Balsam, Jill Jaress

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 situation comedy.

2 One-Punch Banta    First Aired: September 19, 1978
Writer: Earl Pomerantz
Director:James Burrows
Guest Stars: Carlos Palomino, Allan Arbus

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 season.

3 Blind Date    First Aired: September 26, 1978
Writer: Michael Leeson
Director: James Burrows
Guest Star: Suzanne Kent

Alex, stuck on a date with an overweight and overbearing woman, refuses to let her bitterness spoil their evening.

4 Bobby's Acting Career    First Aired: October 5, 1978
Writers: Ed. Weinberger, Stan Daniels
Director: James Burrows
Guest Stars: Taurean Blacque, John Lehne, Michael Mann, Robert Phalen

Bobby's self-imposed deadline to land an acting job is about to expire, and the struggling actor has no prospects in sight.

5 Come As You Aren't    First Aired: October 10, 1978
Writers: Glen Charles, Les Charles
Director: James Burrows
Guest Stars: Andra Akers, William Bogert, Paula Victor, Clyde Kusatsu, Treva Silverman

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.

6 The Great Line    First Aired: October 17, 1978
Writer: Earl Pomerantz
Director:James Burrows
Guest Stars: Ellen Regan, Dolph Sweet, Sheila Rogers

John develops second thoughts after he finds himself married to a girl he met at Mario's the night before.

7 High School Reunion    First Aired: October 24, 1978
Writer: Sy Rosen
Director: James Burrows
Guest Stars: Joanna Cassidy, Arlene Golonka, Sandy Holt, Pierrino Mascarino

Ashamed of what his classmates might think of him, Louie convinces Bobby to attend the dispatcher's twentieth high-school reunion in his place.

8 Paper Marriage    First Aired: October 31, 1978
Writers: Glen Charles, Les Charles
Story: Barton Dean
Director: James Burrows
Guest Stars: Christopher Lloyd, Rita Taggart, James Randolph

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."

9 Money Troubles    First Aired: November 14, 1978
Writer: Earl Pomerantz
Director: James Burrows
Guest Star: Ellen Regan

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.

10 Men Are Such Beasts    First Aired: November 21, 1978
Writers: Ed. Weinberger, Stan Daniels
Director: James Burrows
Guest Stars: Gail Edwards, George Reynolds

Tony tries to dump his possessive girlfriend after she takes a job at the cab company just to be near him.

11 Memories of Cab 804 (Part 1)    First Aired: November 28, 1978
Writer: Barry Kemp
Director: James Burrows
Guest Stars: Scoey Mitchell, Rod Browning, Chris Barnes

After John wrecks cab 804, the cabbies pay tribute to the beloved taxi with fond recollections of memorable shifts spent behind its wheel.

12 Memories of Cab 804 (Part 2)    First Aired: December 5, 1978
Writer: Barry Kemp
Director:James Burrows
Guest Stars: Tom Selleck, Mandy Patinkin, Regie Baff

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 maternity ward.

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.

13 A Full House for Christmas    First Aired: December 12, 1978
Writer: Barry Kemp
Director: James Burrows
Guest Star: Richard Foronjy

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."

14 Sugar Mama    First Aired: January 16, 1979
Writers: Glen Charles, Les Charles
Director:James Burrows
Guest Stars: Ruth Gordon, Herb Vigran, Aharon Ipale

Alex's conscience bothers him after he accepts cash and extravagant gifts from an eccentric old woman who rides in his cab for companionship.

15 Friends    First Aired: January 30, 1979
Writer: Earl Pomerantz
Director:James Burrows
Guest Stars: Liz Miller, J. Alan Thomas

Tony ends his friendship with Bobby after the irresponsible actor accidentally allows Tony's beloved pet goldfish to die.

16 Louie Sees the Light    First Aired: February 6, 1979
Writer: Ruth Bennett
Director: James Burrows
Guest Stars: John Dukakis, Fay Hauser

Louie resolves to mend his irascible ways after he survives a nerve-racking operation.

17 Elaine and the Lame Duck    First Aired: February 13, 1979
Writers: Glen Charles, Les Charles
Director: James Burrows
Guest Stars: Jeffrey Tambor, Susan Heldfond, Rusdi Lane

Alex fixes Elaine up with an inept Congressman, convinced that an evening with the

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.

18 Bobby's Big Break    First Aired: February 15, 1979
Writer: Barry Kemp
Director: James Burrows
Guest Stars: Amanda McBroom, Michele Conaway

Bobby tears up his hack license after he lands a part on a soap opera, but his grandiose exit soon proves premature.

19 Mama Gravas    First Aired: February 27, 1979
Writers: Glen Charles, Les Charles
Director: James Burrows
Guest Star: Susan Kellermann

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.

20 Alex Tastes Death and Finds a Nice Restaurant    First Aired: March 6, 1979
Writer: Michael Leeson
Director: James Burrows
Guest Stars: James Staley, Byron Webster

After Alex is nearly killed by a mugger, he abandons the garage to become a waiter in a four-star restaurant.

21 Hollywood Calling    First Aired: May 8, 1979
Writers: Glen Charles, Les Charles
Director: James Burrows
Guest Stars: Martin Mull, Joey Aresco

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 2-Night.

22 Substitute Father    First Aired: May 15, 1979
Writer: Barry Kemp
Director: James Burrows
Guest Stars: Michael Hershewe, David Knapp, Suzanne Carney

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 for everybody."


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