American icon

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 February, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 February, 2000, 12:00am

Jerry Seinfeld may have called it quits but TVB isn't ready to follow suit yet. His sitcom-cum stand-up comedy Seinfeld (Pearl, 9pm) is back in Hong Kong for its seventh season.

Seinfeld is an American institution for reasons incomprehensible to a minority of TV viewers like me. When the show 'about nothing' and the most watched in American television history finally came to a close, fans and the media reacted as if someone beloved had died.

Seinfeld, who once made ends meet by peddling fake jewellery on the street and working for a scam operation selling light bulbs over the phone, turned down an offer to be the highest paid man in television to stand up and make people laugh for a tenth season.

The opening episode of the new season deals with trivial topics close to the heart, as usual. Julia Louis-Dreyfus provides some inspiration as to what to do with the neighbour's dogs that don't know how to stop barking. And then there is the bigger question of marriage. In this show about singles Jason Alexander's George stuns Jerry by announcing his nuptials. It is not long before George realises the occasion is not worth celebrating.

Cooking and travel have become lively, inspiring entertainment when in the hands of Keith Floyd, Ainsley Harriot or Lonely Planet's Ian Wright. But Avventura Journeys In Italian Cuisine (Pearl, 8.30pm) harks back to the earlier age of tame television.

An adventure it certainly is not, and its cooking sequences are disappointing compared with the British culinary travel shows.

Host David Rocco travels round Italy to gentle muzac, taking viewers to the tourist sights, but never venturing to get his hands messy in any real cooking activities. Rocco, an Italian American, instead observes what professional chefs prepare.

The pictures of Lake Garda in the first episode are pretty, but the food images fail to whet the appetite. Rocco does not have time to wait for a stuffed squid to be cooked and served.

Instead of using the usual TV licence and presenting a dish previously prepared, he walks away leaving us with the image of flabby, white flesh.

We can see how television mogul Ted Turner has spent some of his fortune in Great Bison Chase (National Geographic Channel, 9pm). His huge Flying D Ranch in Montana was the main location for filming charging bison for this story of the great bison of the American Old West, made by Turner Original Productions.

This film is laden with images of the Wild West as it is today, with host Harry Hamlin teaming up with 'Bison' Pete Gardner, who started ranching the American buffalo long before it became fashionable to protect them, for the annual round-up.

During their tours of ranches and national parks they recall the bad old days, when close to four million bison were slaughtered between 1882 and 1874, a human greed that drove the species to the brink of extinction.

Today, people like Turner and Bison Pete know better, and the bison has joined the eagle as a great symbol of America.