The plug show

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 March, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 March, 1999, 12:00am

It seems few Americans are able to resist the chance of appearing on Late Show With David Letterman (World, 11.55pm), even when the consequences of their public image are severe. Henry Kissinger really should have known better last week, when he accepted an invitation to go on and plug the last volume of his epic book about world geopolitics.

Dr Kissinger has one of the most interesting minds in the United States, but that doesn't make him an ideal guest on a show that is propelled along by in-jokes and streetwise humour.

Letterman was too impressed to do much but laugh politely at Dr Kissinger's attempts to be funny, but at the end of the brief interview, all one could think was how the mighty had fallen. Dr Kissinger advised Richard Nixon on rapprochement with China and the Vietnam War, and here he was 25 years later, smirking in the chair usually filled with half-wit film stars and sitcom personalities.

Marv Albert, tonight's guest, has now almost overcome the scandal of that court case a couple of years ago when a lover accused him of unfashionably brutal sexual preferences. Before he became famous to a wider audience for that, he was best known to hundreds of sports fans as a sportscaster.

It seems improbable that Letterman will allow the encounter to go ahead without any mention at all of this incident. But Albert must have some new spot to plug, and the Late Show is the best place to do it. Why else put himself through the humiliation at all? Mulder complains to Scully early on in this evening's episode of The X-Files (Pearl, 8.30pm) that the two of them have been side-tracked into humiliating, straightforward assignments beneath their abilities.

It is hard not to feel the same way about this series. Tonight we get an insulting mish mash of bog-standard X-Files paranoia, the moving vehicle time-bomb gag (given a revolting medical twist, admittedly) from Speed, and lots of exploding bodies, which have been standard B-movie horror set pieces for several decades.

The one novelty is right at the end when Scully and Mulder finally have to own up to taking off on an unauthorised investigation. If the FBI had thought of the wheeze of making them pay for what they are doing sooner, even Mulder's passion for truth might have been curbed through sheer economic necessity.

Sipowicz seems much too tough to succumb to a little thing like a CAT scan, but in NYPD Blue (Pearl, 9.30pm) he almost expires even before his doctors get around to doing one. The sight of Sipowicz flat on his back in a vest is almost too pathetic to bear, especially as, meanwhile, Simone and Russell get a break in the Tommy Richardson case that had been bugging poor Andy so much.