Sometimes comedy illuminates hard truths with a pointed urgency that other means can’t quite achieve. Sometimes comedy is just funny. This series of posts is mostly about the former instances, but the latter is valuable, too.
Before I ever watched a Martin Scorcese movie, I watched a TV sitcom based on a Martin Scorsese movie. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Scorsese’s fourth feature film, brought Ellen Burstyn an Oscar and inspired the long-running CBS series Alice. Vic Tayback, Scorsese’s casting choice for diner owner Mel, even carried over to the sitcom. I find it endlessly amusing to think of the director of the likes of Raging Bull, Goodfellas, and The Departed providing fodder for one of the more middlebrow television offerings of the nineteen-seventies.
Filmmaker Lance Krall clearly finds it amusing, too. And he had the chops to make something special from the leap in logic that reasonably supposes that if Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore could have begat Alice, then surely Taxi Driver, Scorsese’s far more characteristic masterwork from 1976, could have provided the inspiration for a similar workplace comedy that was an Emmy darling through the late–nineteen-seventies and early–nineteen-eighties. Krall’s rendering of Taxi Driver, the sitcom, is an absolute joy.
Previous entries in this series can be found by clicking on the “Laughing Matters” tag.