Taxi: The Final Season
DVD | Box Set
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This sitcom followed the life of a group of cabbies in New York. The group, employees of the Sunshine Cab Company, was made up a motley crew including Bobby (Jeff Conaway), a frustrated actor, Tony (Tony Danza), a struggling boxer, Louie (Danny DeVito), the tyranical dispatcher, and Reverend Jim (Christopher Lloyd), a spacey ex-hippie. The classic ensemble sitcom was hailed by critics and audiences alike after premiering on ABC Sept. 12, 1978. It's a vehicle with heart, as well as humor, and won three straight Emmys as Outstanding Comedy Series.
ABC unceremoniously canceled Taxi after four Emmy Award-winning seasons, but NBC flagged it down for one last joy ride around the block. This final season, though ratings challenged, is no clunker. Judd Hirsch as salt-of-the-earth cabbie Alex Reiger, Christopher Lloyd as burnout Jim, and Carol Kane, joining the cast as Latka's not-quite-assimilated wife, Simka, each won an Emmy. The season's first episode is a wonderful reintroduction to the dream team ensemble as Latka (Andy Kaufman) and Simka stage a matchmaking "schloogel" for the Sunshine Cab Company. A two-part "Taxi Celebration" is an enjoyable ride down memory lane with noteworthy scenes from some benchmark episodes, including "Blind Date," "Reverend Jim: A Space Odyssey," and "Elaine's Strange Triangle." By its fifth season, Taxi had lost some of its edge. In earlier seasons, the writers deftly combined comedy and pathos. This season, they drive it into the ground as Alex cares for his beloved but aged dog in "Alex's Old Buddy," Elaine (Marilu Henner) falls in love with a monk who must return to his order in "Elaine and the Monk," Tony (Tony Danza) is reunited with his absentee father in "Travels with My Dad," Jim fights to keep his inheritance in "Jim's Inheritance," and Louie's lost love (guest star Rhea Pearlman) gets married in "Zena's Honeymoon." But most of the episodes have priceless, play-it-again moments, among them Louie "charming" his literally blind date ("Before you know it, she'll be taking me home to meet the dog") in "Love Un-American Style"; Simka attempting to seduce Alex in the two-part "Sceneskees from a Marriage"; and guest star Penny Marshall's disastrous interview with a snooty condo board in "Louie Moves Uptown." Long overdue is an episode devoted to Louie's loyal assistant Jeff (J. Alan Thomas), who takes the fall when one of Louie's scams is discovered. DeVito says it best in his introduction to "A Taxi Celebration": "If you watched Taxi for five years, you're in for some great memories. If you haven't… you dirty, miserable…." --Donald Liebenson
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