Cult TV

Cult TV Essentials: Ocean Girl

Ocean Girl, or Ocean Odyssey as it was known in the UK, was an Austrailian childrens sci-fi show that ran for four seasons (78 episodes) between 1994 and 1997. It centres around Neri (Marzena Godecki ), a young girl with an affinity for water, super-human strength, the ability to swim long distances, and super-human lung capacity.

Neri lives alone on a deserted island, and sleeps in a nest in a tree. Early in the first season, Neri befriends two Australian boys: Jason (David Hoflin) and Brett Bates (Jeffrey Walker) who live in an elaborate underwater research and environmental protection facility called ORCA (Oceanic Research Center of Australia), located near Port Douglas, Queensland.

At the beginning of the series, their mother, Dr. Dianne Bates (Kerry Armstrong), has been assigned to ORCA to study whale song in the hopes of facilitating cross-species communication.

A significant portion of the series takes place on ORCA itself, and looks at the activities of its inhabitants, which includes the school-aged children of the resident scientists, such as Jason and Brett.

It is Jason who initially discovers Neri while on a whale-tracking expedition with his mother. While attempting to tag a whale using a harpoon from the boat, Jason is startled by Neri who appears in the water and positions herself between Jason and the whale, saying “No, no!” Jason freezes and fails to release the harpoon. Dr. Bates rushes out to the ship’s deck, grabs the harpoon and tags the whale, albeit missing the intended target area. Dr. Bates is furious with Jason, and doesn’t believe his story about a girl appearing in the water. Actually, no one believes Jason at first and he is ridiculed by the other children on ORCA. Brett is the second character to know of Neri’s existence. Brett and Jason’s friendship with Neri is at first a highly guarded secret due to Neri’s fear of other humans.

As the series progresses, it is revealed that Neri came to Earth on a spaceship with her father when she was young, though his death soon after the ship’s crash left Neri to fend for herself. Prior to meeting Jason and Brett, Neri’s only friend was a humpback whale (a jali in Neri’s native tongue), whom she names “Charley”, and with whom she can communicate.

Later in the series, Neri’s curiosity leads her to explore ORCA, while Dr. Bates’s study of Charley’s whale song helps her identify Neri as the intended recipient of that song.

Eventually, Dr Bates and her assistant, Dr. Winston Seth (Alex Pinder), become embroiled in Jason and Brett’s effort to keep Neri a secret, while also performing numerous tests on Neri to understand how she’s able to communicate with whales.

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