Thursday, 1 October 2009

Dog Star Children

Ah, classic New Zealand science fiction/fantasy! I saw (at least some of it) a long time ago, read the book, which cleared up some confusions, and have now seen the DVD release.

An alien device starts making a young girl go sleepwalking, and under cover strange alien components in the swamp. Which is tapu, and should be left alone, as the Maori characters tell us at least once per episode. And after all the mystery is built up to promising a really exciting climax in episode six, it all goes down the toilet. Not sure what the ultimate point was, but the series does undercut itself.

Not sure what the intentions of this series were: was it that ancient traditions should be respected? Certainly the "leave it alone" meme does well. Was it to watch out for alien space craft? The series mines the Dogon Sirius link, which has been discredited since.

The three child stars were Sarah Dunn, Jeison Wallace and Hamish Bartle. Not huge careers in TV it would seem. Roy Billing has a big role as Gretchen's... uncle?, but I last saw him as an evil Wilberforce.

Special effects consist largely of a nice Brass Daisy prop, and some glows around things. Oh, and an alien creature that looks impressive until it moves, shame about that.

Enjoyable, though, until the ending.



Peter A said...

Don't forget Anzac Wallace! He was kind of a big deal in NZ film in the early 80s due to 'Utu' (hey I'm a poet!) Roy Billing is now an honourary Aussie and made big splashes in the second series of Underbelly.

I was greatly impressed by this as a kid, and I think it's pretty cool for a story that pretty casually interweaves Tikanga Maori with UFO culture. The constant refrain of 'tapu' might seem excessive by its repetition (remember this went out weekly, not nightly, and to kids, hence the repetition) but it's surprising how undramatic it sounds in 2009, nods to indgenous tradition nowadays being much more than just... well, nods.yeah, the story's small and no volcanoes are mistreated this time, but as with Utu some of the novelty has to come from seeing an oft-used overseas trope (alien cultures interacting with The Ancients) given a local spin, and served up so smoothly. AND without going down the von Daniken route, which would have been disastrous.

Alden said...

Somehow from what little I had remembered of the show from watching it as a kid, I had completely forgotten about the ultimate appearance of the aliens, so it was both shock and amusement for me when I saw it on DVD. I'd say it was the silliest alien I'd seen, but to do so would mean denying the existence of The Tomorrow People. :)

Jamas Enright said...

Yeah, completely didn't remember the ending.
While not von Daniken, they did go with the Dogon, which is nearly as bad. Just fortunate that the link hadn't been discredited back then, or I would have given up as soon as it came up...