'Taxi' First Episode: THR's 1978 Review
In fall 1978, ABC debuted a new half-hour comedy, Taxi, for television audiences on Sept. 12. The Hollywood Reporter's original review is below:
Often as not, it’s said the true magical moments on TV occur quite by accident; and often as not, that’s true. Which is why a show like Taxi is so rare. Not only does it have magic, it is completely under control, making one believe that week after week, we will continue to be treated to ensemble comedy performances at their near best.
The setting is the dispatch center for New York’s Sunshine Cab Company, where a mix-and-match group of regulars come nightly to take their hacks out on the street of Manhattan, to face who knows what. And while part of that who-knows-what forms storyline, far more comes from the individual characters themselves — there is a prize fighter (Tony Danza) who spends much of his time face down on the mat; an artist (Marilu Henner) who comes complete with a daughter and a women’s point of view; an aspiring actor (Jeff Conaway) who’s just missed out on the best role of his career; a country greenhorn (Randall Carver) complete with wet-behind-the-ears; a mechanic (Andy Kaufman) whose lack of English is only outdone by his carnal instincts, and the Sunshine dispatcher (Danny De Vito) “a little man with a heart of brass.”
Holding all these strays together in an odds-against-the-world family is Judd Hirsch, the only “real” cabbie in the lot. With Hirsch’s stabilizing influence as a foundation, the other cast can bounce off the wall and back and it remains all right. For Hirsch is the audience’s voice in the comedy and the one element of typical normality in the lot.
The opening plot, which centers around Hirsch’s impulsive decision to see his daughter after a 15-year-absence, mixes poignancy with belly laughs, thanks mainly to a group effort and the sharp script by executive producers James L. Brooks, Stan Daniels, David Davis and Ed. Weinberger.
James Burrows' direction complements the action without obviously intruding in what is essentially repertory acting. Glen Charles and Les Charles produce for this John Charles Walters Production in Association with Paramount TV. Outlook: The sky is the limit for this top comedy of the season. — Richard Hack