What does the yellow light mean?"
"What... does... the... yellow... light... mean?"
"Whaaaaaat... dooooeeees... theeeee... yeeeelllllllllllooowwww... liiiiight... meeeeeeaaaaan?"
"Against a black screen, a wistful pipe plays a gentle little tune, a theme that speaks of personal dreams not yet fulfilled. The screen fades in to a moving view of New York City from the Brooklyn Bridge and pans across as the flute repeats its theme, revealing a checker cab that is crossing the bridge. Christ, how did I wind up here? Driving a stinking cab in this dirty town. What happened? Ah. The cab continues across the bridge as an electric piano kicks in, reminding us that we are, after all, moving—trucking, even. As the piano and flute are joined by a small fusion band, we are reminded by a list of names that even if the job is lousy, we've got friends there, and they're pretty good, and even if they're a pain in the ass at least life can be interesting for having them. Heh, remember that one time when Louie got behind the couch at Jeff's party when Latka was getting his papers renewed and…good times, good times. Coming up on the end of the bridge now. Hey, maybe driving this cab ain't so bad—it's nothing but an endless series of small victories, right? And there's that piccolo again, but this time it seems to be reminding us that we haven't lost our dreams yet. Yeah, things are all right, y'know? I get by. And willya look at that town!
In fifty seconds you know all you really need to know about Taxi."
The Sunshine Cab Company was open for 5 Seasons and 112 Episodes (plus a couple of clip shows). During its run, Taxi
scored 22 Emmy Nominations and 18 Wins, including 3 consecutive Best Comedy Series wins. It also launched the careers of cast members Tony Danza, Andy Kaufman, Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd. The sitcom (workcom) followed a group of New York City cabbies and the nasty dispatcher (DeVito) who tried to rule them.
The Setting and Characters
"...Taxi [was] a show about frustrated dreams and missed opportunities. A makeshift family of finely drawn characters came together in that dingy New York garage, the overwhelming bleakness of their situation cut with cartoonish surrealism and dogged optimism.
Night Shifting for the Hip Fleet and The Word from Belmore
Alex Rieger (Judd Hirsch) was the father figure in the garage, the one who’d (mostly) made peace with the fact he was a Sunshine lifer. He expressed that sentiment perfectly in the pilot: “Me, I’m a cab driver. I’m the only cab driver in this place.” Elaine Nardo (Marilu Henner) was the single mother holding down two jobs to support her family. Bobby Wheeler (Jeff Conaway) was a struggling actor looking for his big break. Tony Banta (Tony Danza) was a boxer determined to make it big despite a record that encouraged everyone to bet against him. By casting working actors rather than big stars, the Taxi producers conveyed the notion that their characters knew what it was like to look for a break. It was a feeling that allowed all four characters to become remarkably realized as the show went on.
As a counterbalance to this daily-grind realism, Taxi introduced colorful characters who became sitcom icons. Danny DeVito’s Louie De Palma was the unquestioned lord and master of the Sunshine Cab Company, a man feared and loathed by everyone who worked there. Thanks to a personality that eclipsed his short stature, Louie commanded attention from his dispatcher cage. Comedian and performance artist Andy Kaufman—a favorite of the producers — adapted his Foreign Man persona into good-natured mechanic Latka Gravas. Trapped behind a heavy language barrier, Latka became a sort of mascot to the rest of the garage. Introduced in the first-season episode “Paper Marriage,” Christopher Lloyd’s Reverend Jim joined the main ensemble in season two. “The living embodiment of the ’60s,” Jim was a man who’d fried every synapse in his brain—but he was capable of insight at the most unexpected times."
The show was inspired by two non-fiction articles that appeared in New York Magazine in September, 1975: Night-Shifting for the Hip Fleet
and The Word from Belmore
, both by author, writer and journalist Marc Jacobson
. In 2004, Jacobson checked in with local cabdrivers
to see how things had changed for them after 30 years. (Previously on MeFi)
All but four episodes can be watched on YouTube. Within the next few months, the show will also be available to Hulu Plus customers.
All are listed in the order they aired
There is a full playlist
for all available episodes, and playlists to seasons 1-3 are linked below, but none of them are in order.
For its rookie season, Taxi took home three Emmy awards, including Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Film Editing for a Series and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy (to Ruth Gordon for the episode "Sugar Mama"
1. Like Father, Like Daughter (Check out: This Was Television's Roundtable Review.)
2. One-Punch Banta (Guest star: Welterweight Boxing Champion Carlos Palomino. Tony Danza's character dreamed of being a professional fighter. In real life, Danza was a boxer before becoming a Taxi cast member. Look for: Palomino accidentally hits Danza in the face with a real left hook. You can see Palomino pull his hand towards his mouth in horror for a moment before getting back into character and turning around to exit.)
3. Blind Date (This episode was nominated for an Emmy. The "blind date" actress would return again in the second season episode "The Lighter Side of Angela Matusa")
4. Bobby's Acting Career
5. Come As You Aren't
6. The Great Line
7. High School Reunion (Guest Star: "Blade Runner" actress Joanna Cassidy as Beverly)
8. Paper Marriage (This episode won an Emmy award for Outstanding Film Editing. First appearance by Christopher Lloyd, who would become a regular in season two. Lloyd and DeVito had previously appeared together in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" as Taber and Martini, respectively.)
9. Money Troubles
10. Men Are Such Beasts
11. Memories Of Cab 804 - Part 1
12. Memories Of Cab 804 - Part 2 (Guest stars: Mandy Patinkin, Tom Selleck)
13. A Full House For Christmas
14. Sugar Mama (Guest star Ruth Gordon won an Emmy for her work in this episode.)
16. Louie Sees The Light
17. Elaine And The Lame Duck (Guest star: Jeffrey Tambor)
18. Bobby's Big Break (A good, but spoiler-filled scene from this episode between DeVito and Hirsch can be seen here. Guest star: Michelle Conaway (Jeff Conaway's sister.))
19. Mama Gravas
20. Alex Tastes Death And Finds A Nice Restaurant
21. Hollywood Calling (Guest star: Martin Mull)
22. Substitute Father
Taxi took home three Emmys for it's second season: Outstanding Comedy Series (second consecutive win,) Outstanding Film Editing, and Outstanding Directing. Danny DeVito took home a Golden Globe that same year for Best Supporting Actor, with the show itself winning the Outstanding Comedy Golden Globe
23. Louie And The Nice Girl (Episode won Emmys for Outstanding Directing and Outstanding Film Editing, Guest star: Rhea Perlman. DeVito and Perlman met during the filming of this episode. They would marry in 1982.)
24. Honor Thy Father (Episode received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing)
25. Reverend Jim a Space Odyssey (Source of the quote at the top of this post (Time Index 21:00). Christopher Lloyd takes a driving test to become a cab driver. Look for: Lloyd and Jeff Conaway were told to repeat the "What does a yellow light mean?" joke until the audience stopped laughing. Marilu Henner and Tony Danza can also be seen laughing out of character.)
26. Nardo Loses Her Marbles (Guest stars: Mary Woronov, Robert Picardo (he shows up at time index 9:45)
27. Wherefore Art Thou, Bobby?
28. The Lighter Side Of Angela Matusa (Sequel episode to 1x03, "Blind Date")
29. A Woman Between Friends
30. The Great Race
31. The Apartment (Guest star: Dick Butkus)
32. Alex's Romance
33. Latka's Revolting
34. Elaine's Secret Admirer
35. Louie Meets The Folks (Guest star: Rhea Perlman)
36. Jim Gets A Pet (Of the equine variety)
37. The Reluctant Fighter (Guest star: Marc Anthony Danza (Tony Danza's son))
38. Tony And Brian (Guest star: Marc Anthony Danza (Tony Danza's son))
39. Guess Who's Coming For Brefnish (Guest star: Carol Kane, who won an Emmy for her work in this episode)
40. What Price Bobby
41. Shut It Down - Part 1
42. Shut It Down - Part 2
43. Alex Jumps Out Of An Airplane
44. Art Work
45. Fantasy Borough - Part 1 (Guest stars: Herve Villechaize and Eric Sevareid as themselves)
46. Fantasy Borough - Part 2 (Guest stars: Lassie, Priscilla Barnes. Barnes would go on to play Terri on Three's Company the following year. Look for: a neat Broadway musical production number as part of Elaine's fantasy.)
Emmy Awards: Best Comedy Series (third consecutive win). Judd Hirsch won best actor and Danny DeVito won best supporting actor for the third season, while James Burrows picked up a directing Emmy for "Elaine's Strange Triangle" and Christopher Lloyd picked up a statue for Outstanding Writing for "Tony's Sister and Jim."
47. Louie's Rival (Guest star: Rhea Perlman. Look for: the scene where Louie makes a sandwich in Zena's apartment.)
48. Tony's Sister And Jim (This episode received an Emmy award for Outstanding Writing)
49. Fathers Of The Bride
50. Elaine's Strange Triangle (This episode received an Emmy award for Best Directing, an Emmy award for Outstanding Film Editing, and an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing.)
51. Going Home (This episode received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing)
52. The Ten Percent Solution
53. The Call Of The Mild
54. Latka's Cookies (Guest star: Wally "Famous" Amos (as himself))
55. Thy Boss's Wife (Guest star: Eileen Brennan. She received an Emmy nomination.)
56. The Costume Party
57. Elaine's Old Friend
58. Out Of Commission (Alex: "It's ok. I'm not really a cab driver. I'm just waiting for something better to come along. Like death.")
59. Zen And The Art Of Cab Driving
60. Louie's Mother (Guest star: Julia DeVito (Danny DeVito's real mother, playing Louie's mother))
61. Bobby's Roommate
62. Louie Bumps Into An Old Lady
63. Bobby And The Critic
64. On The Job - Part 1
65. On The Job - Part 2 (Guest star: Al Lewis)
66. Latka The Playboy (Guest star: George Wendt, The show incorporates an Andy Kaufman alter-ego character from his stand-up act: smooth-talking lounge lizard Vic Ferrari, transforming the mild-mannered mechanic into an obnoxious lothario. The AV Club called it "...one of the most jarring moves a sitcom has ever made.")
After the third season, director James Burrows and writers Glen Charles and Les Charles quit the series to create Cheers
Three Emmy wins, for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (to Carol Kane for the episodes "Simka Returns" and "The Wedding of Latka and Simka", Outstanding Supporting Actor for Christopher Lloyd and Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series to Ken Estin for "Elegant Iggy.")
67. Jim The Psychic (This episode received an Emmy nominations for Outstanding Writing and Outstanding Directing.)
68. Vienna Waits
69. Mr. Personalities
70. Jim Joins The Network (Guest star: Martin Short)
71. Louie's Fling (Guest star: Rhea Perlman. Note: A different ending for this episode was originally filmed, but it was rewritten and re-shot a couple of weeks later after the producers realized how appalled the audience was by Louie's behavior.)
72. Like Father, Like Son
73. Louie's Mom Remarries (Guest star: Julia DeVito (Danny DeVito's mother))
75. Of Mice And Tony (Guest star: Ernie Hudson)
76. Louie Goes Too Far Louie gets caught spying on Elaine in the ladies' room. Elaine gets Louie fired. This episode contains a Louie monologue which marks a turning point for his character.)
77. I Wanna Be Around
78. Bobby Doesn't Live Here Anymore (Final appearance of Jeff Conaway. Glen and Les Charles' last episode in the series -- they would go on to create Cheers)
79. Nina Loves Alex
80. Tony's Lady (Guest star: Rebecca Holden, who would go on to play April Curtis on "Knight Rider" the following year.)
81. Simka Returns (Guest star: Carol Kane, who received an Emmy award for her work in this episode)
82. Jim And The Kid
83. Take My Ex-Wife, Please (Guest star: Louise Lasser)
84. The Unkindest Cut (Guest star: Ted Danson)
85. Tony's Comeback (Guest star: Bubba Smith. Look for producers Ed Weinberger and James L. Brooks in the crowd scenes.)
86. Elegant Iggy (Episode received an Emmy award for outstanding writing.)
87. The Wedding Of Latka And Simka (Guest stars: Vincent Sciavelli and Carol Kane (in her last appearance before becoming a regular cast member)
88. Cooking For Two
89. The Road Not Taken - Part 1 Not online
90. The Road Not Taken - Part 2 Not online
After four seasons, ABC canceled Taxi
Danny DeVito then appeared on NBC's Saturday Night Live. In his monologue
, DeVito mentioned that the cast had filmed their final show without knowing it was their last, robbing them of the opportunity to take a final bow. He brought his castmates on stage so they could do so. Later in the show, a bit showed a disgruntled DeVito blowing up the ABC building.
Afterwards, NBC picked up the show for a fifth season. They promoted it with ads of the cast saying, "Same time, better station."
(Here are two
promos from their 1982 season which include Taxi
Three more Emmy wins for this season: Outstanding Lead Actor for Judd Hirsch, Outstanding Supporting Actor to Christopher Lloyd and Outstanding Supporting Actress to Carol Kane)
91. Love Un-American Style / The Shloogel Show (Guest stars: Marcia Wallace (as herself) and Wallace Shawn)
92. Jim's Inheritance (Parts 1
93. Alex Goes Off The Wagon
94. Scenskees From A Marriage - Part 1 (Guest stars: Allyce Beasley and Vincent Schiavelli)
95. Scenskees From A Marriage - Part 2
96. Crime And Punishment
97. Alex The Gofer
98. Louie's Revenge (Guest star: Andrea Marcovicci. Sequel to the fourth season episode Louie's Fling)
99. Travels With My Dad (Guest star: Donnelly Rhodes)
100. Elaine And The Monk (Directed by Danny DeVito)
101. Zena's Honeymoon (Guest stars: Rhea Perlman and Peter Jurasik, Directed by one of the shows' producers, Richard Sakai, who would go on to produce 435 episodes of "The Simpsons" beginning in 1989)
102. Get Me Through The Holidays
103. Louie Moves Uptown
104. Alex's Old Buddy
105. Sugar Ray Nardo
106. A Taxi Celebration (Clip show hosted by Danny DeVito - Not online)
107. Alex Gets Burned By An Old Flame
108. Louie And The Blind Girl
109. Arnie Meets The Kids (Guest stars: Wallace Shawn)
110. Tony's Baby
111. Jim's Mario's
112. A Grand Gesture (Guest stars: Scatman Crothers, Vincent Schiavelli)
113. Simka's Monthlies (Final Episode to Air)
114: A Taxi Celebration (A clip show finale. Includes highlights from some of the most popular episodes: "Like Father, Like Daughter", "Paper Marriage", "Reverend Jim: A Space Odyssey", "Blind Date", "Elaine's Strange Triangle", "Memories of Cab 804", "Louie and the Nice Girl", "Elegant Iggy", "Jim the Psychic", Fantasy Borough" and "Sceneskees From a Marriage".) Not online
After the season, NBC cancelled the show. Judd Hirsch would go on to win a Best Actor in a Comedy Series Emmy that same year. In his acceptance speech he blasted NBC executive Grant Tinker (who had (ironically) saved the show from cancellation the previous year.) Afterwards, perhaps realizing that he had very publicly shot himself in the foot, Hirsch took out a full page ad in "a Hollywood trade paper"
which read only, "....but what I wanted to say was thank you."
Back in 2012, This Was Television did a series of roundtable reviews of specific episodes.
* Like Father, Like Daughter
* “One-Punch Banta” and “Bobby’s Acting Career”
* “Come As You Aren’t” and “High School Reunion”
* “Paper Marriage” and “Louie and the Nice Girl”
* “Reverend Jim: A Space Odyssey” and “Nardo Loses Her Marbles”
* Take My Ex-Wife Please” and “The Wedding of Latka and Simka”
* “The Road Not Taken” (Parts 1 and 2)
and TV Tropes
* Danny DeVito on getting cast as Louie
, playing Louie
, the cage
and working with Andy Kaufman
* Tony Danza on how he got the role
, and Andy Kaufman
* James Burrows on Andy Kaufman
and working on the show
* Judd Hirsch on Andy Kaufman
* Glenn and Les Charles on the writers of Taxi
* Blooper Reel
* Another Blooper
Kaufman apparently had difficulty getting along with his cast mates on the set and since his death some of them have spoken publicly about him, including Judd Hirsch
and Tony Danza
. In that last link, Danza speaks about the incident where Kaufman's alter-ego Tony Clifton was physically removed from the set by Paramount's security guards. Also see: Don Steinmetz' wonderful Oral History of Andy Kaufman.
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Good Night Mr. Walters!