What's truly amazing about the release on DVD of this classic sitcom is that it took so long. Very few series in television history have been more popular than Taxi, which not only established a reputation for presenting shows of exceptional quality but also made bona fide mainstream stars of such cast members as Tony Danza, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, and even offbeat comic Andy Kaufman. The 22 episodes of the 1978-79 season introduced viewers to the employees of New York's Sunshine Cab Company. The drivers included career cabbie Alex Rieger (Judd Hirsch, ostensibly the series' leading man) and part-timers Elaine Nardo (Marilu Henner), Tony Banta (Danza), Bobby Wheeler (Jeff Conaway), and -- for Season 1 only -- John Burns (Randall Carver). Berated by their tyrannical dispatcher, Louie De Palma (De Vito) and befuddled by their affable but peculiar mechanic, an immigrant named Latka Gravas (Kaufman), the Sunshiners never quite knew what to expect. The show's blue-collar-workplace milieu and strong ensemble proved a potent mix for the creative team, including executive producer James L. Brooks, director James Burrows, and a gaggle of uniquely talented writers. (In fact, Burrows and Taxi writer-producers Les and Glen Charles later created Cheers together, among other series.) Season 1 highlights include "One-Punch Banta," which finds part-time prizefighter Tony getting an unexpected shot at the big time; "Blind Date," which turns into an unforgettably awful night for Alex; "Come as You Aren't," in which Elaine invites the gang to a party for her high-toned friends; "Louie Sees the Light," a showcase for De Vito, whose character makes a short-lived deal with God after learning he needs surgery; and "Alex Tastes Death," in which Rieger temporarily quits the business after being robbed and shot while on duty. Even Kaufman got the spotlight to himself: "Paper Marriage" made him the groom in a sham marriage to avoid deportation. Guest stars in the first-season shows included Tom Selleck (pre-Magnum, P.I.), Mandy Patinkin (then a struggling stage actor), Martin Mull, and Ruth Gordon. You'll only need a cursory look at a few episodes to be reminded that Taxi richly deserved the awards and accolades it received during its long tenure on the small screen, including the Outstanding Comedy Emmy for this very season.
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After spending years as the creative head behind the landmark situation comedy The Mary Tyler Moore Show, James L. Brooks went on to create Taxi, one of the best situation comedies in this history of the format. This three-disc set offers every episode from Taxi's first season. Each is presented in the original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.33:1. English soundtracks are rendered in Dolby Digital Mono. The lack of any supplemental materials is something of a disappointment, but fans will appreciate having these well-crafted shows available for viewing at a moment's notice.
Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse