Children of the Dog Star is a children's science fiction television programwhich was produced in New Zealand in 1984. It consists of six episodes of thirty minutes each and was released on DVD in 2009. I first heard about the series whilst carrying out research for Children of the Stones, intrigued by the blurb I thought id give it a whirl and this is my review.
The story involved a keen young astronomer called Gretchen, who goes to stay at her uncle's farm for the holidays. Gretchen befriends Ronny, a Māori boy with a troubled city past, and Bevis the birdwatching son of a hated developer who wants to buy a local swamp and drain it for property development. However, Ronny's uncle is the guardian of a traditional Māori tapu (taboo/curse) upon the swamp and he says that the swamp must not be touched as something sleeps there that must not be awakened. Something unnatural.
Taking much of its inspiration from Robert K.G Temple's 1976 book, 'The Sirius Mystery', which sparked of a period of intense debate over how the Dogon could possibly have known the brightest star in the heavens had a small white dwarf orbiting it without modern astronomical equipment, the children's series outs its own spin on it in an interesting way and asks its viewers whether we could we have been visited by aliens in the past.
The rural New Zealand backdrop is a beautiful backdrop to the whole story and the intelligently-written story is wonderfully performed by the child actors. The special effects of their time and so have not aged well but are still passable. The theme tune and incidental music is fitting and never overused.
The mix of Dogon mythology, Maori culture, and modern sci-fi storytelling, all come together to produce an enjoyable series. Its a shame that the DVD is so vanilla with no extras whatsoever but as a whole the package is worth it and will hopefully entertain a whole new generation of children and adults alike.