Channel hop

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 July, 2008, 12:00am

For your TV diet this week, we have the most random bag of assorted goodies yet.

First up, as part of its get-to-know-China series, Stories from the Middle Kingdom, BBC Knowledge offers The Road to Beijing (Saturday, at 7.50pm) - a portrait of 2004 Olympic badminton champion Zhang Ning.

Enlisted into the national team in 1991, Zhang remained largely unnoticed until 2003, when she won her first World Championship title, followed the next year, at the age of 29, by a gold medal in the singles competition at the Athens Olympics.

The documentary examines Zhang's sporting and private life since her success in Greece. Competing internationally and training rigorously for the Beijing Olympic Games, Zhang's days and nights are mainly spent in sports complexes and dormitories.

In a country where promising athletes are hand-picked and whisked away at a young age with the aim of them reaching the national team, they compete with a sense of collective honour, repaying the country with results.

The programme deals with personal sacrifice, altered relationships with family and friends and heroism in an understated but powerful way - as revealed in the scenes from one of Zhang's rare visits to her hometown, Shenyang, in Liaoning province.

Next up is Janet Hsieh, the new 'It girl' of the travel and leisure world. In Fun Taiwan (Discovery Travel & Living; Saturdays, at 11pm), Hsieh, a born-and-raised Texan, returns to her parents' homeland to discover Taiwan for herself - and for the tens of thousands of viewers riveted by her endless pep and incredible looks.

The first episode introduces Taiwan's 'top five': Lala Mountain's incredible lushness and fat worms (don't ask); the abundance of hot (and sometimes cold) springs with rejuvenating powers; the Turner-esque seascape and the dying fishing traditions of coast-dwellers; the play-eat-shop culture of open-air night markets; and the country's obsession with wedding photography.

Besides Hsieh's infectious energy and her entertaining musical and linguistic talents, the programme features quirky, fun native hosts - such as Lin Yi-kuei, who gave up his job in the import-export business to become a full-time 'hot-spring explorer'. These locals show viewers the ins and outs of their favourite haunts.

Finally, two oldies-but-goodies are coming to our screens.

If you are a Star Wars or Star Trek fan, American director and actor Mel Brooks' 1987 screwball sci-fi parody Spaceballs (MGM; Friday, at 9pm) is worth staying home for. Brilliant comedians John Candy, Rick Moranis, Bill Pullman and Dom DeLuise rocket into orbit as the forces of good and evil fight it out with gigantic jars of jam and dark helmets.

AXN Beyond meanwhile is doing an X-Files revival in anticipation of the long-awaited second feature film, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, to be released in Hong Kong on Thursday.

The fourth season of The X-Files starts this Wednesday and will air Monday to Friday at 9.05pm. Season five and six will take us to the end of the year, and seasons seven to nine (the last of them) will begin next year.

So the truth is out there again, as agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully (above) take us through the thickets of conspiracies, cover-ups and abductions.

Trust no one with the TV remote this week.