Journey begins

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 April, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 April, 1998, 12:00am

There will be a handful of non-Chinese Pearl viewers who will be automatically put off from watching Journey to the West (Pearl, 8.30pm) precisely because it looks like what it is: a transfer from Pearl's sister channel Jade.

But here's hoping for all our sakes that enough people give Journey to the West a chance, because it is a highly entertaining series. And since it runs for more than six months, we are going to have to get used to it.

Those who saw last week's full-length trailer, Behind The Scenes: Journey to the West will hopefully not have been deterred by what the voice-over called the 'didactic moral message' (note to TVB: this word is usually used pejoratively) in the stories. There are morals to be gathered from the stories, but the main thing is that they are fun.

Some viewers, like me, might well remember the legendary Japanese version of these stories which was aired on British television about 20 years ago. Week after week this fascinated 10-year-old tuned in and watched the three disciples save their master from all kinds of baddies, without being aware that there was any moral message.

Sure, there are flaws with TVB's version: irritatingly anachronistic and inconsistent dialogue, some awful incidental music which sounds like the kind of stuff that gets played on long train journeys in China, and far too many similar sounding American actors doing the dubbing.

But these are quite unimportant details that are swallowed up in the pleasure of watching the action sequences, the special effects and some remarkable performances especially from Cheung Wai-kin as the Monkey King.

April's edition in the Perspectives series on CNN is a documentary called Twins (CNN, 10pm) which, as the title suggests, looks at the weird and wonderful world of twins.

It includes lots of loud New York twins talking straight to camera about how they think the same thoughts, et cetera.

Most come across as rather irritating, especially the women (and little girls) who dress identically as well. 'It's very surrealistic being a twin' says one twin with backcombed hair and too much mascara. 'It's very conceptual. It's a sub-culture.' Then the programme changes gear with in-depth reports on Stephanie and Marti, who were separated at birth. When they met, 38 years later, they fell into one another's arms and shrieked the same exuberant, non-stop laugh, and handed one another exactly the same present.

But the scariest part was the choice of gift: both women had spent hours wondering what to buy and finally - separately, but simultaneously - came up with . . . a fridge magnet.

A fridge magnet for your long lost twin? That deserves a scientific explanation.