A true classic of the "ensemble sitcom" genre, Taxi ran for five years on two different networks, accumulating dozens of industry awards (including several Emmys) and a comparatively small but intensely vocal corps of loyal and loving viewers along the way. Most of the action took place in the garage of New York City's Sunshine Cab Company, a fiefdom ruled from his "cage" by tyrannical, short-tempered taxi dispatcher Louie DePalma (Danny DeVito, who also directed a handful of episodes). The unofficial spiritual leader and father confessors of the cabbies was Alex Rieger (Judd Hirsch), the only Sunshine driver who worked full-time and was not pursuing an outside career. The others included Elaine Nardo (Marilu Henner), whose great dream in life was to be a wealthy and influential patroness of the arts; Bobby Wheeler (Jeff Conaway, who left the series after season three), an aspiring actor; Tony Banta (Tony Danza), a would-be boxing champ; Ageing hippie "Reverend" Jim Ignatowski (Christopher Lloyd, who joined the series during its Second Season), a burned-out relic of the activist 1960s who ultimately (and amazingly) became the garage's wealthiest employee after inheriting a fortune from his father; and, during Season One only, John Burns (Randall Carver), a feckless college student. Also on the Sunshine staff was Latka Gravas (Andy Kaufman), a sweet-tempered immigrant from an indeterminate European country with an indecipherable language. During the series' fourth season, Latka married his countrywoman and sweetheart Simka Dahblitz (Carol Kane), who, beginning in season five, was listed among the regulars. (Another recurring character, assistant dispatcher Jeff was played on a sporadic basis by J. Allen Thomas, aka Jeff Thomas).
Debuting September 12, 1978, on ABC, Taxi opened to solid if not spectacular ratings, but its viewership dwindled as the network arbitrarily shifted its time slot (from Tuesday, to Wednesday, to Thursday) over the next four years. Although ABC intended to pull the plug on the program at the end of season four, popular demand from viewers and the industry alike kept the property alive -- albeit on a different network, NBC. Unfortunately, this move did not significantly improve the overall ratings, and as a result, Taxi ended its 114-episode run on July 27, 1983. (There had been an eleventh-hour attempt to revive the series on the cable service HBO, but this came to naught.) Since that time, the series has enjoyed a successful and profitable afterlife in local syndication and on basic cable. ~ Rovi