Lonely Planet - Mongolia

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 June, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 June, 1999, 12:00am

Saturday television from the terrestrial channels is once again geared to lovers of geography, nature and racing. Those hoping to wind down with an absorbing television drama or movie must be disappointed.

In the evening, viewers can follow Ian Wright in his trek around the Mongolian grasslands in Lonely Planet - Mongolia (World, 9pm) before they are taken on further explorations with National Geographic Explorer (World, 10pm).

The first programme in the National Geographic trilogy was made to mark the 49th anniversary of the sinking of the cruise liner Andrea Doria, a disaster that could have matched The Titanic for scale. This seems an odd year to choose to recall the accident in which 51 people lost their lives. The makers only had to wait one more for a more significant milestone.

We then travel to Volcano Island, for another programme about the island of Montserrat (pictured), transformed by volcanic ash from tropical paradise to moonscape. Finally, the cameramen who captured images of World War II recall their daring experiences in Combat Cameramen. If that is not enough, there is more geography in National Geographic - Survivors Of The Skeleton Coast (World, 2.15pm), and on Cable there is a whole National Geographic channel dedicated to such programming, for weekends and public holidays only.

Racing on TVB is followed by a natural history lesson in Animal Cannibals (Pearl, 10.45pm). I have nothing against natural history nor this particular documentary, but this seems like overkill to me following the day's geography. This is the second in a two-part series that reveals murder in the natural world. But cannibalism is not as surprising as the programme makes out, it being common even among pets such as rabbits. In this episode we will be entertained with more murder and will gain more insight into why this is natural behaviour.

Those looking for the drama we expect of weekend television must tune in during the early afternoon, when they can watch a repeat of the BBC series Jonathan Creek (World, 1.25pm). Here is the sort of entertainment we'd like to see in the middle of the evening, not when we're relaxing by the pool. Moreover, the murder mysteries that the wacky magician gets embroiled in are not suitable for early afternoon family viewing. A gritty drama that deals with infidelity-driven murder, like last week's episode, is not the kind of television I can share with my children.