Taylor Reflects On 'Deep Space Nine'By Caillan
May 28, 2002 - 4:07 PM
Writer-producer Michael Taylor recently looked back on his first foray into the Trek universe - the acclaimed Deep Space Nine episode 'The Visitor.'
Speaking with Steve Krutzler at TrekWeb, Taylor recalled how he came up with the idea for the Hugo-nominated episode. "They were going against the grain with the character of Sisko - a single black father raising his son in space, though you wouldn't think in racial terms in the 24th century," Taylor said. "But, in the 20th century it occurred to me that this is not something you see often on television, the single black parent raising a kid.
"Then I guess something perverse occurred to me: what if he was forced into a situation where he couldn't be there for his son, and I think that resonates on a lot of levels, where people don't disappear into subspace pockets routinely but, nonetheless, kids grow up in what seems to be a foreshortened amount of time and it becomes a procession of snapshots from baby to toddler to young kid to young adult and then they're gone. So that sort of metaphor was always there."
Taylor later penned the season six episode 'In The Pale Moonlight,' in which Captain Sisko was forced to take action against his conscience for the greater good. "DS9 had a slightly different take on the whole Star Trek enterprise as conceived by Mr. Roddenberry," the writer said. "I think the notion is that even if it's the 24th century the moral universe isn’t necessarily any more black and white than it is now. In a show like that, a heroic character must nevertheless balance the needs of the many against the needs of the few (to borrow another Trek phrase)."
Although some have said the episode doesn't gel with Trek's optimistic vision of the future, Taylor said he believes otherwise. "The reason it works is not because Sisko is a non-Star Trek figure, is un-heroic, or does this sort of stuff all the time, but because it is so against the grain for him and he is a Roddenberry hero and yet under tremendous pressure and to save many, many lives he must make very difficult decisions that within the immediate context are not very moral, immoral in fact, Machiavellian you might say. But he has to save lives in a larger war. I think that tension setup by what we know about him through all these years of the show and what we see him having to do [makes the episode great]."
The writer recently joined the staff of Michael Piller's new series The Dead Zone, which revolves around a man who wakes up from a coma with psychic powers. Taylor said the show has a lot to offer Trek fans.
"There is something of the Star Trek tradition in this show - and not just because we have a few Star Trek people working on it - it's a show that is trying to boldly go different places. Johnny's gift is like a starship, it takes you places, it's a wagon-train somewhere. For fans who like to zoom around space, sometimes it's nice to plant your feet on the ground; I know as a writer I get a kick out of writing a real jury room in a real town in Maine and yet still having that same freedom to explore as the Star Trek characters do. We have our own little starship going here, it's just in Johnny’s head!"
To read more from Taylor, as well as an interview with Trek veteran Joe Menosky, head over to TrekWeb.