Aping around

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 August, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 August, 1998, 12:00am

Against all the odds, tonight's ape movie, Dunston Checks In (World, 9.30 pm) is actually a fairly sophisticated piece of comedy. Most over-10s get a sinking feeling at the prospect of sitting through anything in which the title character is an adorable orang-utan, but somehow this manages to avoid the usual tack. Not only is the ape a rather fine performer, but his supporting cast of human beings are too.

They include, for those Seinfeld fans who have been missing him, Jason Alexander who plays George. Alexander is highly regarded in the United States as a Broadway star, but in Hong Kong we don't get to see much of him, apart from a brilliant disco-dancing cameo on Sesame Street not too long ago.

Here he plays a hotel manager, Robert Grant, struggling to bring up two sons, run the hotel and please his horrid boss (Faye Dunaway). She has warned him that a posh incognito critic is expected and of course he decides new guest and English aristocrat (Rupert Everett) is the man, when in fact he is nothing of the sort, but happy to cash in on the confusion.

Dunston arrives with the aristocrat, which should have given the game away to Grant immediately. After all, there isn't anything much more memorable than travelling with an orange ape.

On the other side, poor George Henry, Carter's hopeless student in ER (Pearl, 9.30 pm) is recovering from the near-fatal allergy to latex, so cleverly diagnosed by Carter last week.

Henry went into anaphylactic shock, an extreme allergic reaction that can be triggered by peanuts, seafood, or even as he discovered, latex. It says a lot about Henry's hands-off approach to medical science that it took until now for him to realise he was allergic to the stuff. He must have avoided all those gruesome dissection classes medical students have to go to, or perhaps he just dived in with bare hands.

It also says a lot about his sex life. Most condoms are made of latex, and sometimes people turn up at STD clinics with horrid rashes, who turn out simply to be allergic to the things. Henry is either a foolish Casanova who stupidly doesn't practise safe sex. Or a virgin who never got the chance to get that close to latex before.

Hands up those of you who think ATV has improved dramatically recently? Well, if anyone has noticed a difference, you can put it down to the efforts of today's guest on BizAsia (CNN, 7.30 pm) Bruno Wu, the new boy wonder at ATV. Wu's official title is Chief Operating Officer, and in the few short months since he has been in charge he has sacked a lot of people and survived the attacks of his predecessor the alleged briber, Lim Por-yen.

The optimistic insiders who think they are doing a good job hope Wu and the new owners will give ATV a chance to give TVB a real run for its money, something I am sure we are all hoping for too.