“A Woman Between Friends”
A lot about this episode feels off, the least of which being the strange, synth-y interstitial music the producers inexplicably used throughout. Just as Taxi breaks sitcom molds, it also sometimes finds itself fulfilling the worst clichés of its genre and era.
If you couldn’t guess, “A Woman Between Friends” centers around Bobby and Tony dating the same woman at the same time. This being a sitcom, the situation reduces both of them to five-year-old mentality, with Elaine reliably acting, throughout, as their mother. The women they’re dating is portrayed as nothing but a sex object; you get the picture.
That the scenarios and characters are clearly exaggerated (to what effect?) doesn’t really do much for the sexist ideas being thrown about onscreen. (The b-plot centers around Elaine acting as a mother to Alex, too.) Recognizing your prejudices isn’t the same thing as overcoming them.
“The Great Race”
It almost feels like an inevitability, this episode. Pitting two cabbies against each other is just a good sitcom idea, and having it be Alex’s “sober yin” to Louie’s “raging yang,” as Les Chappell put it, works better than having it be any of the other drivers. After some meaningless fight, Louie and Alex bet that the other can’t bring in more cash in one night than the other.
All the other cabbies place bets on Alex (Elaine bets a date with Louie that he won’t win, and goes into a near-catatonic state for the final hours of the race, finally realizing what she’s done), and then the whole episode is just the two of them driving around, being taxi drivers. (It also shows you why Taxi only shows you the drivers in the garage; watching people drive doesn’t make for great TV.
It’s a decent episode about just how dull working in a garage must be, but really, that’s all it is. The most I can say about this episode was its plot and that it worked; there’s just not much happening under the surface. It’s an imperfect prototype of one of those episodes of The Office where they do nothing the entire time. (Like The Office, but in a taxi.)