Children of the Dog Star

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Children of the Dog Star
Children of the Dog Star DVD poster.jpg
Genre Science fiction
Written by Ken Catran
Directed by Chris Bailey
Country of origin New Zealand
No. of episodes 6
Broadcast
First shown in 1984

Children of the Dog Star is a science fiction television program for children produced in New Zealand in 1984. It consists of six episodes of thirty minutes each. It was written by Ken Catran and directed by Chris Bailey, with the novelisation written by Marie Stuttard.

Plot synopsis[edit]

On holiday at her uncle's farm in New Zealand, Gretchen befriends Ronny, a Māori boy with a troubled city past, and Bevis the birdwatching son of a loathed developer. Tension is already high as the developer wants to buy and drain a local swamp for a housing estate, but Ronny's uncle is the guardian of a traditional Māori tapu (taboo/curse) upon the swamp. The swamp must not be touched—something sleeps there that must not be awakened. Something unnatural.

In the story, twelve-year-old Gretchen has a passion for science and a talent for all things mechanical, which is why the strange old brass "weathervane" (referred to as the "daisy rod") on her uncle's farm fascinates her. But the brass daisy rod has a complex and terrifying significance, and Gretchen and her new friend Ronny discover its links with the far distant Sirius, the Dog Star.

Gradually, the children discover the pieces of an ancient alien space probe named Kolob. During the series they assemble the missing parts and strange things start to happen. The probe was one of three sent to earth to educate the human race in science. In the end a communication link is set up with the star Sirius B, from where the probe came, and the aliens tell them they should not have interfered.

Episodes[edit]

  • The Brass Daisy
  • Power Stop
  • Swamp Light
  • Alien Summons
  • Kolob
  • Alien Contact

Availability[edit]

Until recently, Children of the Dog Star had remained unavailable due to complex copyright issues. However, TVNZ has now released the series on DVD[1] (as of 3 July 2009), and syndicated the show to certain North American PBS stations. This series was also broadcast in Czechoslovakia, Netherlands and Poland during the mid and late 1980s. Dubbings were made (Czech and Slovak). Since 2011 the series has been available on Youtube.

Influences[edit]

The main idea for the plot, that of space probes sent out from Sirius to educate primitive people, is lifted from the 1976 book The Sirius Mystery by Robert K. G. Temple.[citation needed]

Stephen King's The Tommyknockers, which was released seven years later, has similarities to the story.[citation needed]

Awards[edit]

It won the Golden Gate Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival that year[citation needed] as well as the New Zealand Feltex 1984 best drama award.[2]

Adaptations[edit]

Book[edit]

A novelisation, written by Marie Stuttard, was released in 1985 (ISBN 0-340-38490-5).

Trivia[edit]

The closing credits of each episode incorrectly shows MCMLXXIV as the production year which translates to 1974.

The videogame Ronny and Gretchen play in the grocery store is The Pit.

References[edit]

  1. ^ TVNZ on DVD[dead link]
  2. ^ Ken Catran profile on the New Zealand Book Council site

External links[edit]