The best of British
THE very British drama Middlemarch (World, 8.35pm), based on the book by George Eliot, has all the right credentials and doesn't it just show? This is the kind of television people watch in other countries. Even in Britain, where sweeping costume dramas of characters dressed in curtains are 10-a-penny, Middlemarch did good box office.
Those credentials include a line-up of established actors (Robert Hardy and Patrick Malahide among them) and rising young thespians who have cut their teeth treading the boards in everything from Shakespeare to Sherlock Holmes. Douglas Hodge, the doctor who thinks he can make the world a better place, was a merchant banker in the popular drama Capital City. Those of you familiar with Cockney rhyming slang must realise I mean merchant banker in its true sense.
We are now on the penultimate episode of Middlemarch and things are crystalising, especially for our headstrong heroine Dorothea (Juliet Aubrey) and her lover Ladislaw (Rufus Sewell), the man with the demi-perm and piercing eyes. Dorothea, you will recall, misguidedly married the scholastic Reverend Casaubon (Malahide), who turns out to be every woman's worst nightmare, a mean-minded, jealous and impotent failure. And those, as the joke goes, are just his good points. THE thriller Flight Of Black Angel (World, 9.35pm) was originally made for cable television, which is not to make excuses for it. It is, in fact, much better than the story might suggest. Peter Strauss is a rogue Air Force pilot heading for Las Vegas with a nuke strapped to his undercarriage. Only one man can stop him and . . . you know the rest.
MAKE all the excuses you want for Porky's Revenge (Pearl, 1.10pm), it's still feeble. It's a film of ghastly teenage goings-on and was the third in the series. The second was Porky's 2, which was just as bad. DIRECTOR Joe Dante still seems strangely preoccupied with the improper use of microwave ovens in Gremlins 2: The New Batch (Pearl, 9.30pm). He's also trying to make a point, although it might get lost in the general chaos of a film that starts at a thousand miles per hour and stays that way until the closing credits. Watch out for gratuitous cameo appearances, movie in jokes and more satirical barbs than you can shake a stick at.
The point? The film is set in a new Manhattan office block, which is taken over by the creatures from outer space. The main human character, a man we are intended to find loathsome, is an entrepreneur not-too-subtly based on Donald Trump and Ted Turner. Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates return in the roles they played in the first film, Gremlins.
MICHAEL Sarrazin's life goes into a nose dive when he accidentally dials an all-male telephone sex line in The Phone Call (STAR Plus, 2.00am), a film dubbed by no one in particular as the gay version of Fatal Attraction. He gets insulted by a homicidal ex-con, who then turns his attention to Sarrazin's family. IN Sibling Rivalry (TDM Channel 2, 8.45pm) Kirstie Alley, rasping star of Cheers, tries to resolve her marital problems by going to bed with her sister's husband. This is a comedy that does raise the occasional laugh, but don't expect hysterics. FILMS on Cable Movie Channel: Double Impact (7.00pm). The Muscles from Brussels, Jean-Claude van Damme, plays twin brothers, both badly, in a kung-fu thriller set in Hong Kong.
Family Honour (9.00pm). Honest cop Simon Fu has to fight for his honour, and his life, when suspicion falls on him after a violent drugs bust goes wrong.
Close Up (3.00am). Docu-drama from Iranian director Abbass Kiarostami. Nana Patekar and Asneeta Kanwar star.
Faith (3.00am). Adversity, courage and endurance in Vietnam. The eponymous Faith leaves the war-torn country for America, where she falls among bad types.