PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 July, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 July, 1994, 12:00am

THE blurb writers have a wonderful way with understatement. The synopsis that accompanies A Thousand Heroes (Pearl, 9.30pm) says that when one of his aircraft's engines explodes, destroying all the hydraulics for good measure, airline pilot Charlton Heston is ''shocked''. He must also have been perplexed, even a little worried. He probably spilled his coffee.

Heston (The Ten Commandments, The Agony and the Ecstasy, The National Rifle Association) plays Al Haynes, pilot of United Airlines Flight 232 from Denver to Chicago, which crashed into an Iowa cornfield in 1989 and erupted into a ball of flames.

But this film is less a disaster movie and more an aftermath movie. It depicts how a city mobilised its citizens, resulting in the near-miraculous survival of 184 of the 296 passengers on board the plane.

Richard Thomas, who once featured in the classic American soap opera The Waltons, is the smalltown politician whose dream is to form the Woodbury County Disaster Committee, just in case a United Airlines plane should crash into a Woodbury County cornfield and erupt into a ball of flames.

He does so by merging the Civil Defense Force, the rescue services and the medical services, and insists on constant drilling to make sure they are prepared for an eventuality (such as a United Airlines plane . . .) When their big moment arrives things run as smoothly as clockwork. From the second a shocked Heston radios for emergency clearance to land - at 3.21pm on July 19, 1989 - Thomas' committee is in action. The paramedics, fire services and army guards are at the scene almost before the plane is. One hundred and twelve passengers died in the crash, but 184 got out alive.

THE low-budget horror flick Remote Control (World, 9.40pm) turned out better than anyone dared to hope.

Kevin Dillon (Platoon) is just a normal guy called Cosmo who works at a video store, until he finds out that everyone who has rented a certain film has died a horrible death. One thing leads to another and he finds himself taking on the dangerous task of saving the world from insidious attack by ingenious aliens.

The special effects are better than average. They were supplied by Richard Clark, who worked on Top Gun, Splash and Revenge of the Nerds.

In much the same low-budget vein is The Green Hornet (World, 9.00pm). The Hornet (Van Williams) and Kato (Bruce Lee) smash a dope ring and the Hornet wins the admiration of a pretty female doctor.

THE kind of football featured in The Club (STAR Plus, 8.30pm) is presumably the third kind; not the American kind or the World Cup kind, but the Australian kind, with the tight shorts.

Jack Thompson plays the coach in this excellent drama about off-the-field politics. When the club in question buys a talented young player, Geoff, the rest of the team feels second-rate and friction develops. Geoff loses interest and the team just loses.

The Bit Part (STAR Plus, midnight and 3.30am), a comedy about Hollywood, sees Nicole Kidman in an early role before she became famous for being Tom Cruise's wife. It also stars Katrina Foster and Chris Haywood, as an Australian determined to make his mark in Tinseltown.

IN the comedy series Home Improvement (Pearl, 7.00pm) DIY expert and television host Tim (Tim Allen) helps Randy prepare for a sled race by giving his sled more power. Will Randy slide to victory, or will he slide into the nearest tree? And how long will Pearl continue to show The Nanny (5.55pm), which stars Fran Drescher as the outspoken nanny of a Broadway producer's spoiled children? If you want television that makes you laugh, all there is is The Pink Panther (Pearl, 5.00pm). Cartoons are an improvement on real life.

REAL life raises its head in Inside Story (World, 8.30pm), or at least the World Cup does. Reporter Aruna Iyengar takes a behind-the-scenes look at the impact the tournament is having in Hong Kong, where all the excitement happens in the middle of the night.

In the programme's second report, Andrew Paterson investigates debt among Filipina maids in the territory.

The Asian Wall Street Journal Report (Pearl, 8.30pm) wonders why high-flying Asian stock markets have fallen to earth and where international money managers plan to put their money in the coming year. There is no escape - the programme also features a report on the World Cup.

The Pearl Report (Pearl, 7.25pm) visits villages in China that have been devastated by the recent floods and found some communities with only a packet of instant noodles or dried biscuits between them.