Whilst watching Children of the Stones for my inaugural Cult TV Review I was reading through the YouTube comments and a lot of people kept discussing Moondial, another British TV series which was popular, so I ordered the DVD and watched it and here are my thoughts.
Broadcast originally on the BBC in February 1988, Moondial was a 6 part supernatural/time travel drama based on the book by the popular author Helen Cresswell. During the 80's the BBC had a great reputation for adapting children's books; they were especially good at the slightly creepy and unsettling and this series fits that bill nicely.
Watching the series for the first time I was taken with the opening credits, a wonderfully arthouse and atmospheric piece of work.
The series starts with a bang as young teen Minty has to stay with her Aunt until her mother recovers from a car accident. She has to stay in a small village with a large Manor House containing a beautiful garden and a mysterious moondial. Minty is drawn to the moondial and one night when she feels is drawing her in she goes to it and faints. When she wakes up she finds she has been transported back through time to the turn of the century. Minty spends the series trying to figure out the mystery of the Moondial and the cursed child with the 'Devils Mark'
This series is indicative of the style of programmes British TV was airing during that time for children; at times unusual and slightly spook- and for that it has to be commended. No-one does creeping dread like the British and this sort-of ghost story is beautifully realised. Whilst some of the adult actors do come across as quite hammy and theatrical and some of the child actors precocious to the point of annoying the whole thing generally works. There are moments where things lag, for example pretty much any scene with Minty's annoying Aunt but these are tempered with end of episode cliffhangers that really keep you intrigued and excited.
With my previous review of Children of the Stones I discussed how there was higher level thinking required to figure out the ending. With Moondial the reason why and how Minty is transported is never explained, to quote The Simpsons "Wizard" but I would still recommend this for anyone with an interest in unique and unusual children's TV programmes.