Season 1 Episode 1

Like Father, Like Daughter

Aired Tuesday 9:30 PM Sep 12, 1978 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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out of 10
38 votes
  • A nearly perfect pilot, ... for its time.

    I'm sure there are books about How To Create A Television Pilot, and this episode will probably be featured in it. The difficulty with an ensemble piece is that you only have twenty minutes to introduce several characters. The writers have come up with clever device here: a broken pay phone gives everybody a chance to phone a loved one. (By sheer coincidence I happened to see "Hell is For Heroes" the day before, in which Bob Newhart does a long, one-sided phone call. Apparently, it's a situation that comedians have used for laughs a long time.)

    With just a few lines each we get a good idea of what the different characters are like. The writers could have introduced them in the classic way, as both John and Elaine start their jobs at Sunshine Cabs. But that would have overwhelmed the viewers with information. The background stories of both John and Latka are not given; their actions suggest their personalities. Danny DeVito was relatively unknown by then, and one of the biggest laughs comes when Louie steps out of his cage and the audience first notices DeVito's size. I wonder whether that would still be acceptable now.

    In the last five minutes the show's seventies roots become apparent. We get a rather sentimental scene, with Alex looking up his estranged daughter. Perhaps this sentimentality was par for the course in the seventies, perhaps it was just used to stress that Alex would be the lead in the show. Anyway, it's the element that feels the most dated.
  • this excellent show started out with a touching family story, while introducing a family of cab drivers

    and so we come to the flaws of humans. we get to meet Alex Reager first, a guy that by all accounts you'd want as a friend, a familly member or even a father figure, committed a mistake in his life and abandoned his daughter (at his wife's request).
    and so, one day, 15 years later, and because of a faulty telephone he gets a chance to meet her again. this endeering character and his story would be the center of attention for this show. of course than there were the sideckiks. wanna be actor Bobby Wheeler (jeff Conaway), when given a chance at a free phone call, called the National theatre of London, just to talk to Sir Lawrence Olivier. that was very sweet, and shows the commitement Bobby has to his dream of becoming good as an actor. his successes and failures would be a continuing storyline through seasons 1-3.
    and than there was Tony Banta (played by Tony Danza. (boy that took some good 5 imaginitive secconds to come up with the name). he was the one I never really liked. I mean he was generally good, but SO dumb. and I'm sorry to say this, but sometimes I thought Danza didn't neeed to act much to be dumb. he was never a very develloped character during the 5 years the series lasted.
    he was wanna be boxer, with no success (as I think was Danza at one point in his life), who wasn't over bright. a lovely character for a scene transition punch line, he just had to act silly and then we'd move on to something else.
    in this Pilot, 2 new cabbies arrive at Sunshine cab Co. one Elaine Nardo, who works at an art gallery during the day, and works the night shift as a cabbie, to pay for her sons school. you can't help but admire her cause, but she got a much better explored character as the series went on.
    the other new cabbie, I don't get AT ALL! I mean, he arrives at the garage with Alex in the first scene, to get change for the cab drive Alex just serviced him with, and gets so taken by all the atmosphere he decides to stay? I mean come on... this one never had potential, and was gone by the end of the 1st season. his name was John, and he was played by Randall Carver.
    I have to be honest now. before watching these episodes, I did not like Danny DeVito. I mean his films with schwarznegger and such are so... bad for lack of a better term. his "I'm a short guy and I like it" routine never really convinced me as funny. but this is an excellent character. Louie de Palma, the most selfish, swine, narcisist, sexy starved maniac, money hungry thing at the face of the earth, but at the same time funny with it. he was never endeering but his mean ways were always a source for laughs. he was great!
    and then there was andy kauffman. I really don't know what to say. is it strange that I like the character, but I don't like the actor? I think he scares me.. he really does. he was so good in this part, showed so many skills at phisical comedy, and even as a mime, and then we all know the stories about his life, and can't help wonder what goes on behind all that sweetness and talent that he portrays Lahtka with.
    this was a good start to a great, and sometimes not deservedly recognized comedy show