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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > Taxi - The Complete First Season

Taxi - The Complete First Season


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Episodes: B-



Though the show is not that old, beginning its successful run in 1978, Taxi has become nostalgia more quickly than anyone could have expected.  If the events of 9/11/01 are not enough of a distancer, just the opening of the show with it cycle of the same cut of an glorious gas-guzzling Checker Cab over and over again is now as a reminder of environmental issues as it is the simple luxuries that keep slipping away.   It was also a time the sitcom was still respectable.


The first season of the show introduced the now-familiar characters played by Judd Hirsch, Jeff Conway, Marilu Henner, Tony Danza, Danny DeVito, Randall Carver, Andy Kaufman and even Christopher Lloyd.  Though the show was a hit, it may have gotten there in part by being less political and some would say a bit more populist than the better shows of the era.  With that said, I was surprised how many of the shows I did remember, though I never thought it was the best TV like many fans tend to.  The episodes include:


1)     Like Father, Like Daughter

2)     One-Punch Banta

3)     Blind Date

4)     Bobby’s Acting Career

5)     Come As You Aren’t

6)     The Great Line

7)     High School Reunion

8)     Paper Marriage

9)     Money Troubles

10)  Men Are Such Beasts

11)  A Full House For Christmas

12)  Sugar Mama (with guest star Ruth Gordon)

13)  Friends

14)  Louis Sees The Light

15)  Elaine And The Lame Duck (with guest star Jeffrey Tambor)

16)  Bobby’s Big Break

17)  Mama Gravas

18)  Alex Tastes Death And Finds A Nice Restaurant

19)  Hollywood Calling (with guest star Martin Mull)

20)  Substitute Father

21)  Memories Of Cab 804 (two-parts; guest stars Many Patinkin, Tom Sellick)



One of the funny things about many episodic TV series is that they have titles, but they are not broadcast on all the actual shows.  Here, with the box sets, it does not matter.  That is one of the greatest gains in respect TV has received from DVD after the boom that took the industry by surprise.  In Taxi, it helps to flush out the smarter side of the show a bit better.  In the long run, had the series been more socially conscious, it would endure better, but it actually plays a bit better than I remembered it overall.  With the situation comedy dead and Taxi being one of the last relatively mature such shows, it turns out to mark the waning years of the forum until Frazier turned out to be the end of an era that went back to The Odd Couple, All In The Family and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  Thus was the situation comedy’s last golden age.


The full frame 1.33 X 1 image fares better than recent TV boxes from Paramount like Mork & Mindy, but is not as colorful, sharp or clear as Happy Days or Laverne & Shirley (all reviewed elsewhere on this site) that were also all shot on film.  The colors are not as rich as one would want and it was always the case that the key lighting might have been a shade too bright for the series in the first place, but that is the look of the show.  Fans will be happy to know that this is the best the show has looked to date.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is reproducing the monophonic sound the show was always broadcast in and was produced in as decent a way as possible, give or take Dolby’s compression.  Sadly, fans will not be happy to hear that despite the cast’s availability and who knows what is in the archive, there are no extras here.


Finally, a note about the cast.  It is with some irony that it was Danny DeVito who went on to be the biggest star, but additionally went on to be a major Hollywood film producer and eventually and interesting feature film director.  Danza became a bigger TV star and Kaufmann went down his wild path of controversy before his early death.  Taxi definitely is a key work of Pop culture and now rare look at working class people.  This DVD set will only keep it in the spotlight longer.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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