There was a time when settling down to watch something on television about the oil industry meant viewing nothing more challenging than the latest episode of Dallas. Unfortunately, issues such as climate change, conflict in the Middle East and the rise of powerful multinational companies make the world of Stetson hats, implausible plots and shoulder pads seem like the Disneyfied version of an increasingly black-hearted business. Far more relevant is Syriana (HBO, today at 9pm), a frightening thriller that illustrates the far-ranging effects of the oil industry's actions and the political machinations that influence and result from them. George Clooney (right, centre), in an Oscar-winning role, plays disgraced CIA agent Bob Barnes, who finds himself tangled in a plot to assassinate the son of an Iranian emir. In another of the story threads, Matt Damon (below, on left) plays an American energy analyst who uses a harrowing experience to further his career. This is a scathing and often depressing look at corruption in the oil industry and further evidence that the love of money - and black gold - is the root of all evil.
There's little more cheer over on Star Movies in Final Cut (today at 9pm). This gloomy sci-fi flick is set in a near future when people can have a microchip planted in their head to visually record their entire life. Robin Williams plays Alan Hakman, whose job it is to edit the footage into movies pleasant enough to be shown at funerals. Hakman's dreary existence takes on a new dimension when he discovers a man he believes to be from his past while editing a client's memories. An interesting idea but, sadly, the results are largely forgettable.