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TV

Taxi (ABC-NBC 1978-1983 with Judd Hirsch and Jeff Conaway)

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“You see that guy over there? Now, he’s an actor. The guy on the phone? He’s a prizefighter. The lady over here? She’s a beautician. The man behind her? He’s a writer. Me? I’m a cabdriver. I’m the only cabdriver in this place.”

They weren’t really taxi drivers—they just played them until something better came along. TV had done the whole workplace sitcom thing before (The Dick Van Dyke ShowThe Mary Tyler Moore Show and others), butTaxi set its comedy in a workplace nobody really liked: the Sunshine Cab Company in New York City. Driving a cab was unglamorous enough, but driving for the cruelest man in sitcomdom made it worse. It was no big surprise that most of the fleet was looking for a shot at bigger dreams, but while they were there, the Sunshine Cab drivers made Taxi some of the funniest sitcom fare ever to hit prime time TV.

It certainly helped that Taxi had a dream team of writer/producers and actors, both the already famous and those that would be soon. The show’s creators—Ed. Weinberger, David Davis, Stan Daniels and James L. Brooks—were all veterans of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and the writing staff included the future minds behind Cheers and The Simpsons. On the screen, the Sunshine Cab Company featured a lineup of familiar and soon-to-be-familiar faces: Judd Hirsch, Jeff Conaway, Danny DeVito, Marilu Henner, Tony Danza, Randall Carver, Andy Kaufman, Christopher Lloyd, Carol Kane and J. Alan Thomas. In rock and roll, there’s a general understanding that supergroups usually disappoint, but on Taxi, the whole was even greater than the sum of its parts.

Hirsch’s Alex Rieger set up the show’s dynamic in Taxi’s first episode with the quote at the top. Alex was the only real cabbie of the bunch, a lifer with a world-weary outlook but a soft spot for a friend in need. Most of the other cabbies all had bigger plans: Bobby Wheeler (Conaway) wanted to be an actor, single mom Elaine Nardo (Henner) worked in an art gallery by day, Tony Banta (Danza) was a big-hearted boxer, and John Burns (Carver) was a naïve college student from the Midwest. The only one who seemed happy to be there was mechanic Latka Gravas (Kaufman), an oddball from “the Old Country” (we never found out which one) whom we just assumed was happy because he was always so cheerfully clueless.

Lording over these assembled service workers was black-souled Louie De Palma (DeVito). Protected inside his wire dispatcher’s cage, De Palma delighted in breaking spirits and crushing dreams, and he did it well. This wasn’t your typical sitcom crusty boss with a heart of gold; this was a crusty boss with a heart of dead puppies.

Alex was a sort of moral center to the show (with Louie as an amoral center), but Taxi was a pure ensemble comedy. Latka was the most catchphrase-ready of the bunch (“Tank you veddy much”), but everyone got a chance in the spotlight: Tony’s fight against an ex-champ trying to win one more for a boy in a wheelchair, Bobby’s soap opera gig that ended up on the cutting room floor, John’s whirlwind marriage to Suzanne Caruthers (after one very effective pickup line), Elaine’s unwanted date with Louie to settle a cabbies’ strike (and one well-remembered good night kiss), Alex’s various doomed dates, and more.

John left the Sunshine Cab Company after Taxi’s first season, but his place was ably filled by a former guest star: Reverend Jim Ignatowski (Lloyd). The burned-out hippie holdover had been called in to officiate in Latka’s emergency wedding to a prostitute (to help him stay in the country, of course) during the first season, and “Iggy” fit so well into the mix that the producers decided to make him a regular. Jim even got a cab of his own after barely passing the driver’s exam (“Whaaaaaat dooooes theeee yellooooow liiight meeeeean?”). Around this time, assistant dispatcher Jeff Bennett (Thomas) began to play a bigger role on the show as well, but the lineup of regulars wasn’t quite complete.

In the show’s second season, Latka fell in love with a girl from his homeland, Simka Dahblitz (Kane). After getting over the fact that she was one of the “mountain people,” the mechanic fell in love, and after two more seasons of on-and-off romance (along with the exorcism of Latka’s swinging alter ego, Vic Ferrari), Latka and Simka were married and the “nik nik” began in earnest.

Not that outlandish Old Country-ites were the only ones feeling the romance bug… Alex and Elaine had a long-running relationship tease, and on a getaway vacation to Europe, the two made at least a temporary love connection. Even Louie wasn’t quite past feeling, showing an unimaginable soft side in his unlikely romance with candy-machine girl Zena Sherman (played by DeVito’s real-life wife, Rhea Perlman).

No matter who got an episode’s focus, Taxi was comic dynamite, and the show was well-rewarded with Emmys—including three in a row for Outstanding Comedy Series. Taxi was also a Top-10 Nielsen hit, but its ratings faded a bit after losing its lead-in from Happy DaysLaverne and Shirley and Three’s Company. ABC moved the show around on its schedule, then finally dropped it after the 1981-82 season.

Taxi was still enormously popular with critics and with its core fans, however, and NBC immediately snatched up the rights. One more season of new episodes followed, but NBC cancelled Taxi for good in 1983. The show went out with a flourish, winning three more Emmys that year, and “Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series” Judd Hirsch offered a final blast at the network during his acceptance speech, claiming they should put the show back on the air.

Nobody took up Hirsch’s offer, but in hindsight, maybe they should have. Today, Taxi is considered one of the true sitcom greats, and syndicated reruns have been enormously popular. Sadly, Andy Kaufman’s premature death in 1984 dashed hopes of a full-scale Taxi comeback, but the rest of the cast (minus Danza) reunited for an appearance in the 1999 Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon. In honor of the film’s release, Taxi marathons popped up on cable television, reminding everyone out in TV land that sometimes, the worst job in the world makes for the best in ensemble TV comedy.

 Release History
9/12/78 – 6/10/82 ABC
9/30/82 – 7/20/83 NBC
 Sub Categories
comedy
 Network
ABC, NBC
 Studio
John-Charles-Walters Prods., Paramount Television
 Cast
Alex Rieger Judd Hirsch
Bobby Wheeler (1978-81) Jeff Conaway
Louie De Palma Danny DeVito
Elaine Nardo Marilu Henner
Tony Banta Tony Danza
John Burns (1978-79) Randall Carver
Latka Gravas Andy Kaufman
“Reverend Jim” Ignatowski (1979-83) Christopher Lloyd
Simka Gravas (1981-83) Carol Kane
Jeff Bennett (1980-83) J. Alan Thomas
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TV

Christmas Princess (UP 2017, Nicole Munoz, Zak Santiago)

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Christmas Princess Nicole Munoz

Christmas Princess is the true story of Donaly Marquez who, through a childhood of neglect and abuse, achieved her dream of becoming a rose bowl princess. An inspirational story of resilience, strength and finding a family to call your own.

cast
Nicole Muñoz as Donaly Marquez
Rosa Blasi as Sara
Zak Santiago as Ignacio Marquez
Olivia Steele Falconer as Emily Marquez
Jaedon Siewert as Abraham Marquez
Lina Renna as Young Donaly
Paloma Kwiatkowski as Chloe
Ty Wood as Trent
Pendo Muema as Monique
Kalyn Miles as Maria
Kaaren de Zilva as Roberta
Garfield Wilson as Dr. Miller
Clay St. Thomas as Judge #1
Patti Allan as Judge #2
Natalie von Rotsburg as Judge #3

crew details
Director: Allan Harmon
Writer: Tracy Andreen

production details
Country: Canada
Network and Production Companies: UP
Duration: 1×120 minute episode
Aired From: Sunday 10 December 2017

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TV

Christmas Reunion, A (Lifetime 2015, Catherine Hicks, Denise Richards)

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A Christmas Reunion Lifetime

In A Christmas Reunion a Madison Avenue executive, Amy, discovers an unusual Christmas surprise when she inherits her Aunt’s hometown bakery. The real surprise comes when she learns the other half of the bakery was left to her long-ago boyfriend, Jack.

Unresolved personal issues resurface between them, as the exes return home to co-manage the store, along with its traditional holiday cookie bake-off.

cast
Denise Richards as Amy Stone
Patrick Muldoon as Jack Evans
Jake Busey as Dylan Carruthers
Catherine Hicks as Aunt Linda
Parker Stevenson as Don Dupree
Patricia De Leon as Janette Crowder
Jon Briddell as Luke Crowder
Robert R. Shafer as Frank O’Brien
Anna Barnholtz as Chloe
John Colton as Steve Evans
Sandra Evans as Shari
Brody Fitzgerald as Young Jack Evans
Michael Gaglio as Earl Pratt, Sr.
Gib Gerard as Earl Pratt, Jr.
Joyce Greenleaf as Helen

crew details
Director: Sean Olson
Writers: Margaret Base, Mary Glenn, Sam Irvin, Sean Olson, Peter Sullivan, Michael Varrat

production details
Country: USA
Network and Production Companies: Lifetime – Hybrid
Duration: 1×120 minute episode
Aired From: 13 December 2015

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TV

Final Vision (ID 2017, Scott Foley, Dave Annable)

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Final Vision ID

Final Vision is a twisted psychological thriller and a true-crime drama based on the longest running criminal case in U.S. history. It’s the story of Jeffrey MacDonald (Foley), a handsome, Ivy League-educated U.S. Army Green Beret doctor, who was convicted of brutally murdering his pregnant wife and two young daughters in the middle of the night.

Told through the eyes of best-selling author Joe McGinniss (Annable), who was approached by MacDonald to write a book about his personal nightmare as he was about to go to trial.

cast
Scott Foley as Jeffrey MacDonald
Dave Annable as Joe McGinniss
John Doman as Bernie Segal
Lochlyn Munro as Wade Smith
Jessica Harmon as Colette MacDonald
Caroline Aaron as Leslie Sterling
Primo Allon as MP Sergeant
Julia Maren Baker as Kimberly MacDonald
Julia Benson as Nancy McGinniss
Baylee Breen-Wood as Kristen MacDonald
April Cameron as Nurse at St. Mary’s
Aaron Craven as James Blackburn
Bruce Dawson as Doctor
Parveen Dosanjh as Woman at Party
Lane Edwards as Brian Murtagh

crew details
Writer: Denis O’Neill
Director:  Nicholas McCarthy
Executive Producers: Angela Bromstad, Christine Connor, Linda Berman S

production details
Country:  USA
Network and Production Companies: ID – Lincoln Square Productions
Duration: 1×120 minute episode
Aired From:  Sunday 10 December 2017

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