Gregg Taylor – the underappreciated genius of Decoder Ring Theatre

SFFaudio Commentary

Gregg Taylor, the creator and writer of Decoder Ring Theatre, is a creative genius, the quality and scope for which we have seen very few before. He is writer of genuine superbness, on the level of J. Michael Straczynski and Rod Serling. But unlike Straczynski, who wrote 92 of the 110 episodes of Babylon 5, and unlike Serling, who wrote 92 of 156 episodes of The Twilight Zone, Taylor has written 42 out of 42 episodes of Black Jack Justice and 70 out of 70 episodes of Red Panda Adventures. I don’t think there is any kind of precedent for this in the history of scripted drama, not on work of this quality or superfluity.

Battlestar Galactica, the recent TV series, ran 73 episodes. Writing credits for that show go to more that a dozen different writers. People think that Joss Whedon wrote Firefly. He did, but he didn’t do it alone. He wrote or co-wrote maybe only half the episodes of that short series. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Nobody is doing anything like what Gregg Taylor is doing with scripted series, and I’m not sure anybody ever has, not on radio or TV. Taylor has, unbelievably, released a full cast production episode of both of his full cast series every two weeks, fall through to the spring, every year since 2005. That’s a stunning, stunning achievement.

I could go on and on and on. But if you just go and listen to the shows yourself I’m sure you’ll get as caught-up in them as so many fans of these independently produced shows have. Maybe start with the fairly standalone-ish episode #70 of the Red Panda Adventures |MP3|. Here’s the episode description:

There are some situations that you just can’t prepare for. You can be the cleverest mystery man on the block, there will still be days that you just never saw coming. Those are the moments that cry out for a fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty… well, you know…

The talented Thomas Perkins, who does the covers for the Red Panda novels*, created this awesome “lobby card” art for the episode:

Red Panda Adventures - The Wild West

[via Bish’s Beat]

Posted by Jesse Willis

*Yes, Gregg Taylor is writing novels set in the Red Panda world too. And no, they are not mere reworkings of the scripts – theses are true canon series novels that fit into the chronology like so many Star Trek novels written for hire never did, and like the Babylon 5 novels claimed they would.

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7 thoughts to “Gregg Taylor – the underappreciated genius of Decoder Ring Theatre”

  1. I have been a listener of Decoder Ring Theatre right from the beginning,I found when our race team traveled I would put it on the ipod and the hauler got quiet until the shows were finished.I also liked the fact it is done in the setting of Toronto were I formally lived many years ago.With the stress of racing and prepping the cars year round the stories make a excellent escape from the real word.
    Paul MacDonald #72 street stock driver BC Canada

  2. Yes, yes, and yes! Absolutely agree, Greg is da man! Both shows, and for that matter the Red Panda novels (I’ve read all three) capture perfectly, beautifully, and lovingly, the flavor of 1930’s and 1940’s radio drama and pulp novels. As a fellow Nth-generation lover of OTR, one who is sad that radio drama didn’t survive television in a huge way in this country, having it relegated to sort of cult, or at least niche status, I salute Greg and the Decoder Ring crew for contributing so well to the genre. No, this format just proves that you can do very much with very little. We don’t need huge special FX budgets, the pictures are so much better, too. Rock on, Greg. And if anyone isn’t a monthly donor, you should be, if you are able. This stuff deserves our support.

  3. Gregg Taylor IS the man of the modern audio drama free podcast revival. I’m proud to know him.
    The fact that’s supplemented this large body of work with several pulp novels is mind boggling.
    There are also precious few other great writers in the medium. The one who comes to mind is Jerry Robbins from Colonial Radio Theatre who has written almost 300 scripts (by my count) himself in the last ten years.
    And then there’s John Bell and Cayenne Chris Conroy from Bell’s in the Batfry (121 and counting) and Teknikal Diffikulties (probably just as much) who have called created multiple continual podcasts.
    These folks always remind me that I’m doing not enough. But if there’s a number its to hit.. its 300.
    J

  4. gregg: im a 13 year old girl and i want so badly to be the flying squirrel for halloween but i have an idea on what she looks like but i was wondering if you could describe her in detail so i can try to make one, maybe not the outfit outfit but like the cowl, utility belt, goggles, oh and shoes, you know the details. im pretty sure im just gonna buy a tighter shirt and pants like sorta like leggings and then just sew a cowl and utility belt and whatever. btw i love the red panda so much that cant fall asleep without having the red panda playing on my i home anymore and thats sorta a problem when i cant find my ipod. i also like harry kelly, my favorite part about him is when the squirrel calls him panda boy on episode # 35 the rat lord. please and thank you.

  5. Gregg Taylor: Thank you, so much for your creative genius! Please thank your cast (of friends!) for their incredible talent. I am in debt for the enjoyment.
    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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