Big break for Arnie

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 July, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 July, 1994, 12:00am

BEFORE Arnold Schwarzenegger ascended to the Action Hero throne, before he became husband to Kennedys and buddy to presidents, he was still willing to play baddies. He had to. There was no other work in Hollywood for a musclebound hulk from Europe with a ridiculous accent.

But as roles go for villains, Arnie's in The Terminator (Pearl, 9.30pm) is a good one. He plays the Terminator. In fact he plays the Terminator with such outrageous panache that he convinced Tinseltown to let him do it again in a sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day. In this he is a good robot, not an evil one.

The Terminator, a relatively low-budget science-fiction movie, turned into the surprise hit of 1984. It provided a career boost not only for Arnie, but for director/writer James Cameron (Aliens, The Abyss, Terminator 2) and Linda Hamilton (the television cult favourite Beauty And The Beast and Terminator 2).

The movie opens in post-nuclear war Los Angeles in 2029. The world is run by sophisticated machines that have decided to obliterate the feeble humans who built them. One of them, played by Arnie, is on a mysterious mission to kill three women with the same name. He tracks down two, but the third (Hamilton) is out the night he comes-a-callin'.

For many critics The Terminator is superior to its big-budget successor. The special effects are impressive and it is fresh, exciting and surprisingly witty.

Behind the scenes, the producers were successfully sued by cult fantasy author Harlan Ellison who claimed that significant chunks of the plot and imagery were lifted from two of his celebrated teleplays for The Outer Limits. The two episodes in question were Soldier and Demon With A Glass Hand.

Like many films of its kind The Terminator brazenly paid homage to those that had gone before. It seems it went a little too far.

MARGAUX Hemingway stars in Inner Sanctum (Pearl, 1.00am), a thriller marred by too much sex, much of which will be exorcised by TVB's censors. It also stars Tanya Roberts, once of the television series Charlie's Angels, who is heralded in the blurb as ''a beautiful, leggy blonde with a brain''. She won the Otto-Wahl Award for best up-and-coming actress, an award also won by Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. The best she could do was the lead in Sheena, Queen Of The Jungle and a part in Hal Needham's comedy Body Slam.

IF Next Step (World, 8.30pm) is to be believed the future may be stranger than James Cameron would dare suggest. This documentary looks at high-technology and the way it is changing our lives. We will soon be riding bicycles with on-board computers, driving to the office on urban assault scooters and eating tomatoes that never rot.

World's second documentary of the evening is Special Babies (World, 9.00pm), a record of life on a maternity ward. We see a mother-to-be whose baby appears abnormal on the ultrasound scan and follow the short life of Jack, who spent 18 of his 20 months in hospital.

IN Clive James On Safari (STAR Plus, 3.30am) the Australian cynic ventures into the African bush in Kenya with Dennis Zaphiro, the same guide that helped novelist Earnest Hemingway in the 1950s. He meets the Masai, dances with them, and is initiated into their tribe, a process which for foreigners no longer involves circumcision. Mr James must have been relieved.

Traveller's Guide To The Orient (STAR Plus, 5.30am) is more prosaic, a travelogue of the ''many ancient monuments and spectacular vistas'' school. In this episode, India: The Timeless Land we visit the Taj Mahal in Agra.

TWO games in the World Cup, the final matches in Group D: Greece vs Nigeria (kick-off, 7.30am) and Argentina vs Bulgaria (kick-off 7.30am). Both channels will be showing one match live, with extended highlights of the other.