Taxi (TV series)

Created by James L. Brooks
Stan Daniels
David Davis
Ed. Weinberger
Theme music composer Bob James
Opening theme "Angela"
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 114 (list of episodes)
Running time 24 minutes
Production company(s) John Charles Walters Company
Paramount Network Television
Distributor CBS Television Distribution
The Program Exchange
Original network ABC (1978–1982)
NBC (1982–1983)
Original release September 12, 1978 – June 15, 1983

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—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. 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.

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 included 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 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'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 zany humor of the show, Taxi often tackled such dramatic issues as racism, drug addiction, single parenthood, blindness, obesity, animal abuse, bisexuality, teenage runaways, divorce, nuclear war, sexual harassment, premenstrual mood disorders, gambling addiction, and the loss of a loved one.


Judd HirschAlex Reiger1978–19831–5
Danny DeVitoLouie De Palma
Marilu HennerElaine O'Connor Nardo
Tony DanzaAnthony Mark "Tony" Banta
Andy KaufmanLatka Gravas
Christopher LloydReverend Jim 'Iggy' Ignatowski1978–19831 (guest), 2 (guest, then star), 3–5 (star)
Jeff ConawayBobby Wheeler1978–19821-4 (star), 4 (guest)
Randall CarverJohn Burns1978–19791
Carol KaneSimka Gravas1980–19832 (guest), 4 (guest), 5 (star)
J. Alan ThomasJeff Bennett1978–19831–5 (supporting)
T.J. CastronovaTommy Jeffries (Bartender At Mario's)1979–19831–5 (supporting)
Rhea PerlmanZena Sherman / Louie's girlfriend1978–19831–5 (guest star)

Main cast

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

Guest stars

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

Then WBC Welterweight Champion Carlos Palomino appeared in the episode "One-Punch Banta" as himself (season 1, episode 2, original air date September 19, 1978). Allan Arbus, famous for his role as US Army Psychiatrist Dr. Sidney Freedman in M*A*S*H, played his manager in the episode. Martial artist and professional wrestler Gene LeBell played himself in multiple episodes as the referee for Tony Banta's boxing matches.


Main article: List of Taxi episodes
Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired Network
1 22 September 12, 1978 May 15, 1979 ABC
2 24 September 11, 1979 May 13, 1980
3 20 November 19, 1980 May 21, 1981
4 24 October 18, 1981 May 6, 1982
5 24 September 30, 1982 June 15, 1983 NBC

Ratings and timeslots

Season Timeslot Rank Rating
1) 1978–79 Tuesday at 9:30 P.M. #9 24.9
2) 1979–80 #13 22.4
3) 1980–81 Wednesday at 9:00 P.M. Not in the Top 30
4) 1981–82 Thursday at 9:30 P.M.
5) 1982–83 Thursday at 9:30 P.M. (fall)
Saturday at 9:30 P.M. (winter)
Not rated[7]

Taxi did not receive a season Nielsen rating in the 1982-83 season "due to (an)... oversight by CBS's research staff".[7]

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]


Emmy Awards:

Golden Globe Awards:

Additional nominations

Emmy Awards:

Golden Globe Awards:


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.[12]

Opening sequence

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 Twin Towers can be seen in the background on various establishing shots of the garage. The building has since been demolished, and an apartment building and a Rite Aid pharmacy went up on the site.[13]

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 melancholy tune better than the up-tempo opening theme they had chosen ("Touchdown"). 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.

Cast reunions

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 did not reprise their roles 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 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.[15][16][17]

DVD releases

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 Region 2 [Germany].

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 for the first time.[18]

DVD Name Ep # Release dates
Region 1 Region 2
The Complete First Season 22 October 12, 2004 April 28, 2008
The Complete Second Season 24 February 1, 2005 February 9, 2009
The Complete Third Season 20 September 13, 2005 TBA
The Fourth Season 24 September 22, 2009 TBA
The (Fifth &) Final Season 24 December 22, 2009 TBA
The Complete Series 114 November 11, 2014 TBA


  1. " - Stern Show News - Archive". Retrieved 2014-11-15.
  2. "Danny Devito: Biography". TV Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-03.
  3. 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
  4. Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And all the Brilliant Minds Who Made Them by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, pg 242
  5. Jeff Sorensen, The Taxi Book, St. Martin's Press, 1987, p. 39.
  6. Willis, J.; Monush, B. (2000). John Willis' Screen World. 51. Applause Books. Retrieved 2014-11-15.
  7. 1 2 "20 Apr 1983, Page 18 - The Akron Beacon Journal at". Retrieved 2016-05-03.
  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
  10. Mark Jacobson (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. ""Man On The Moon" shoot starts". 8 August 1998. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  15. "Danny Devito—Devito Calls For Taxi Movie".
  16. "Danny DeVito Calls For 'Taxi' Movie". Starpulse Entertainment News.
  17. "A 'Taxi' Reunion?". Extra.
  18. CBS/Paramount Hails a Complete Series DVD Set for the First Time Ever!


External links

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