As I watch NITV’s new kid’s live action drama, Thalu, I’m struck by one unavoidable aspect.
The 6 indigenous kids wandering around the outback here are happily enjoying an adventure. They are calmly at one with their land.
Were this 6 kids from a metropolitan city, I dare say this would be a tale about being lost and probably pretty frightened.
Therein lies the difference. Thalu is made for its audience and reiterates a place in the world.
The series, which comes as bite-size 15 minute episodes, centres around 3 boys and 4 girls in the Pilbara who must come together to save their Country from the threat of a mysterious dust cloud and its inhabitants, the Takers.
Styled like a cross between Mad Max and Steam Punk, these kids meet by chance in the outback.
“Where you mob from?” they ask one another, before attempting differing approaches to their present challenges.
While the girls would rather climb over a cliff-face, the boys want to take the long way around it. Before long they will have to pool their ingenuity, especially if they are to outrun a large CGI dust cloud.
“It’s making the country sick… old people told us to get away.”
I’m hoping the Takers referred to in the cloud are not a new version of a Stolen Generation, however along their wandering route they meet mysterious elders who playfully offer wisdom. There are the card-playing aunties ready to lay a wager, the fortune-teller sitting idle in a carnival booth and the silly uncle stuck up a tree fearing a ‘wild horse’ (aka TV’s cutest pony) below.
Small problems become magnified in this world but with a little kid-ingenuity and teamwork it’s nothing that can’t be overcome.
Thalu is only NITV’s second live-action series. It uses first-time actors in Ella Togo, Cherry-Rose Hubert, Jakeile Coffin, Wade Walker, Penny Wally, Logan Adams and Sharliya Mowarin. While the performances may be raw, there’s an authenticity to the production, as evidenced by support from more experienced performers Elaine Crombie, Derik Lynch, Hunter-Page Lochard, Aaron McGrath, Tricia Morton-Thomas, Gabriel Willie and Trevor Jamieson.
The production by Weerianna Street Media in association with the Australian Children’s Television Foundation is written by Mark O’Toole, Beck Cole, Samuel Paynter, David Woodhead, Donald Imberlong and Nayuka Gorrie and directed by Tyson Mowarin, Dena Curtis, Amie Batalibasi, and Hunter Page-Lochard. That tells us there’s a formidable team behind this.
At a time when Children’s TV is in peril with commercial networks, NITV (and later ABC ME) take the lead.
Thalu double episode air 6:30pm weeknights on NITV.