Friday, January 18, 2008

Salute to TV writers: ‘Taxi’

I deeply believe in the Eugenic Theory of Good Television. (Actually, I just thought of it yesterday. But it does make a lot of sense.)

Writers who come from great TV shows tend to create great shows of their own.

For instance, the creators of “Taxi” – James L. Brooks, Stan Daniels, David Davis and Ed. Weinberger – all worked on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” For “Taxi” they hired Glen and Les Charles, who later created “Cheers.”

And writers hired by the Charles brothers on “Cheers” – David Angell, Peter Casey and David Lee – went on to create “Frasier.”

What a wonderful comedy bloodline, spanning 34 years.

As part of my continuing celebration of TV writers, I’m streaming a little bit of a “Taxi” episode written by the Charles brothers and Barton Dean. This was Episode #8 of the first season, titled “Paper Marriage.” (Original air date: October 31, 1978.)

The plot concerns Latka (Andy Kaufman) marrying a hooker in order to avoid deportation. The wedding is performed by “Rev. Jim” (Christopher Lloyd). Rev. Jim would later become a main character, but this was his introduction.

Click here to hear it.

As always, I’m presenting audio (instead of video) so that we may focus on the words. Yes, Christopher Lloyd’s performance was terrific. But it all started with words on a page.

Glen and Les Charles were twice nominated for writing Emmys for their work on “Taxi.” They finally got those trophies for an episode of “Cheers.”


Anonymous said...

Rev Jim's driving test.

"What does yellow mean?"

"Slow down."



Thembi Ford said...


You know, I havent heard many people shout out Frasier (which is probably my favorite non-black sitcom ever) as being one of the best shows ever just because it was so popular and ran so long. Personaly, I think Frasier Crane is the white Roscoe Lee Browne. Your thoughts, UBM?

justjudith said...

taxi was brilliant at times. thembi, i agree -- frasier is very funny. and frasier and niles were great -- i'm sure somebody wanted a brother that was opposite of frasier and somebody said keep them the same and make the dad macho. smart move.

Undercover Black Man said...

Personaly, I think Frasier Crane is the white Roscoe Lee Browne.

Mr. Browne would have been a perfect guest star for that show, Thembi. It's amazing they never thought of it.