Bryan Sunshine | New York, NY | 10/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Paramount has finally decided to release the first season of TAXI on DVD. I won't waste space here describing to you the show or it's premise but I will fill you in on what the DVD's are like.
This is definitely what you would call a "bare bones" box set... no extras, no bonus material, no language or audio selection. The three discs come in individual slip-cases covered with cool photo collages made up of both promotional photos and stills from the show itself.
But you wouldn't be buying this set for bonus materials... TAXI is the most heartfelt, hilarious, engaging, memorable, and sometimes strange sitcom ever to have aired. Every episode from the first season is here, looking as good as you've ever seen it. (Paramount has wisely added a "Play All" feature on the menu) The twenty-two episodes in this set are some of the best of the series' run, including the heartbreaking "Blind Date," the hilarious two-part "Memories of Cab 804," and the Emmy-winning "Sugar Mama." James L. Brooks (who would later go on to co-create The Simpsons) is at his best with this show, moving you from stomach-straining laughter to genuine tears with only one line. And of course the show serves as "Cheers'" older brother since James Burrows and Glen and Les Charles would eventually go on to create the other greatest show of all time.
Maybe the biggest bonus here is that the DVD restores all the scenes that were cut from the syndicated episodes, which makes all the difference. If you've only seen TAXI in reruns- as I had- you missed out on a lot.
Maybe there's nothing wrong with a bare-bones set... it makes you appreciate just what you're buying it for in the first place. There are two kinds of people in the world... those who love Taxi and those who have never seen it. This box set is worth every penny, and Paramount has even confirmed Season Two's release for sometime in the first half of 2005. Enjoy...
My Favorite TV Series
monkuboy | Temple City, CA United States | 10/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am so glad that Paramount decided to release Taxi on DVD. I'm sure there will be many complaints about the bare bones nature of the set - there are no extras whatsoever (unless someone discovers hidden easter eggs somewhere) and no options for audio or subtitle choices. It is just the 22 episodes of the first season presented in the order they were originally aired on tv. However, just to have this all in one place with a nice clean print sure beats all my old VHS tapes with washed out color and sound that are also full of commercials. Taxi is my favorite show of all time because of the excellent writing and the way the relationships were developed between the characters. These are people you can care about and relate to even if you'd never imagine yourself being a cabbie. Plus it's funny! While Danny DeVito as Louie De Palma could be very acerbic at times, there i none of the mean-spirited cruel humor that marks so many of the present-day sitcoms. I just hope that enough copies sell to induce Paramount to release the other seasons."
A Reminder of Just How Great a Sitcom Can Be
Duane Thomas | Tacoma, WA United States | 07/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Critics of the situation comedy generally agree there've been five truly great sitcoms: I Love Lucy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, All In the Family, M.A.S.H and Seinfeld. Two of those shows were still in first-run during the late 1970s/early '80s. It was a common thing then for people to ask me, "Which do you like best, All In the Family or M.A.S.H.?" My answer was always the same: "I prefer Taxi." Though Taxi lacked the social satire of All In the Family or the grandiose, larger-than-life quality of the best episodes of M.A.S.H., what it had, more than any other sitcom I've ever seen, was a cast of believable, sympathetic, real world characters dealing with real world problems.
Alex Reiger (Judd Hirsh) is the heart and soul of the Sunshine Cab Co. While every other driver considers being a cabbie merely a sidelight to their "real" job, Alex is the only person willing to say, "I'm a cab driver." Alex's compassion and common sense makes him the guy everyone comes to when they have a problem.
Louie De Palma (Danny DeVito) is Sunshine's irascible dispatcher. Snide, abusive, cheap, avaricious, dishonest, lecherous, DeVito's portrayal of this walking emotional toxic waste dump won him numerous Emmies and paved the way for a very successful career as a motion picture actor, director and producer.
Bobby Wheeler (Jeff Conaway) is an aspiring actor with the attention span of a fruit fly.
Tony Banta (Tony Danza) is the world's worst middleweight boxer, and even dumber than Bobby.
John Burns (Randall Carver) - and I hate to say this in case Carver's reading it, I don't want to hurt his feelings - was the weak link in Taxi's first season. John was just boring, he combined the low IQ of Bobby and Tony with none of their charm. After Season 1, the character disappeared.
Elaine Nardo (Marilu Henner) is a hard working divorcee who moonlights at Sunshine to support two kids while pursuing her "real job" at an art galley. I had SUCH a crush on Marilu Henner when I was a teenager. Auburn hair, great face and figure, and, to all appearances, a really nice person to boot. What more could you want?
Latka Gravas (Andy Kaufman) is Sunshine's mechanic, an immigrant from an unnamed Balkan country whose native language sounds like speaking in tongues. As a teenager I couldn't understand why so many people raved about the character of Latka. I didn't like him at all; he was the one jarring note in an otherwise believable real world cast. My girlfriend, while watching the first episode of Taxi on DVD with me (she'd never before seen the show), as soon as Latka appeared on-screen said, "Obviously he's going to be the most popular character." Me: "Why do you say that?" Her: "Because all the other characters are so normal. And here you've got this total weirdo walking around in the middle of all that normalcy. He's something different and exotic." Okay, so after 20-plus years, I understand.
In the very first episode, we see exactly what made Taxi so great: real human emotion. In "Like Father, Like Daughter" Alex meets the daughter he hasn't seen since his divorce 15 years before. They finally meet in an airport departure lounge five minutes before her plane leaves. Their conversation, shown in real time, encompasses that five minutes and contains enough pain, honesty and humor to fill any ten episodes of most other sitcoms. After that first episode - which I saw back on September 12, 1978 - I said to myself, "If they can maintain that level of quality, this show has me as a fan forever."
In the 8th episode, arguably the most memorable character in Taxi history makes his first appearance. In "Paper Marriage" the Reverend Jim (Christopher Lloyd) officiates at Latka's marriage of convenience to avoid deportation. During the service Reverend Jim, a total drug burnout, goes through a long, impassioned speech about the sanctity of marriage, then crows triumphantly, "I bet you all thought I was gonna screw up, didn't ya!" In that moment Lloyd won the hearts of Taxi fans everywhere, ensuring his return in Season 2 as a series regular.
In "Sugar Mama" Ruth Gordon, in an Emmy winning performance, is a rich and lonely widow who pays Alex, repeatedly, to drive her around town and talk to her. Eventually he begins to feel like a kept man.
In "Mama Gravas" Alex meets and winds up in bed with Latka's mother. The role of Greta Gravas required a woman very tall, somewhat rawboned, and sexy as hell. Whoever cast Susan Kellermann should have received a special Emmy.
The first season ends with a two-parter, "Memories of Cab 804" in which each cabbie reminisces about special moments experienced in a recently totaled cab. Of note, in Cab 804 Elaine met the man of her dreams who looked amazing like a young Tom Selleck. Wait a minute....it WAS a young Tom Selleck! Alex delivered a baby in Cab 804 whose father looked amazingly like a young Mandy Patinkin. Wait a minute....okay, you get the idea.
Season 1 of Taxi proved just how much humanity could be shoehorned into a half hour sitcom. And they did it week after week; few indeed were the missteps. It's great to have these episodes on DVD. There are no "extras," not even captioning. But who cares? What's important is the show itself, one of the best sitcoms ever. Period."
All TV Should Be This Great
Miles | Phoenix, AZ United States | 10/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm old enough to have watched most of these when they first came out. It's great to see the whole thing again with crystal clear digital reproduction and ear-scorchin' mono remastered sound.
Was this the best American comedy ever? I also liked CHEERS, which had a similar style, but I don't think it ever quite measured up to TAXI. CHEERS never had Latka or Reverend Jim or Louie, for one thing. Danny Devito has played his "Louie DePalma" character dozens of times in too many films, but never once came near to his performance in TAXI (my opinion). I wish they had more of Reverend Jim in this first season.
Someone once pointed out to me that the show GREEN ACRES always dealt with the theme of communication or the failure to communicate: Eddie Albert never understood anybody else, everyone is able to understand Arnold the Pig, etc.
I was thinking about this concept of meta-theme when I watched these TAXI episodes. I've noticed that, in this series, virtually every episode deals with frustration, failure, or loss. The first episode demonstrates how Alex left his family years ago and has spent his life missing his daughter; the next one has Tony getting a real chance to make it as a boxer, and failing; a later one deals with Elaine's humiliation at being a cab driver among a circle of art-museum friends; then there's Latka's 10-minute marriage; Bobby despairs at ever becoming an actor; etc. Remember the one where Alex's dog died? The cabbies were perpetually trying to improve their lives, then failing, then dealing with the failure. That gave the show a bittersweet edge, but the stories rarely came off as schmaltzy, and they were always hilarious."