Along with renegade tennis maestro John McEnroe and Scottish soccer star Kenny Dalglish, Bruce Lee (who died 40 years ago this Saturday) was one of my childhood heroes. All told, it was a pretty international spread of worship for a kid growing up in rural Essex, England. Everybody at school wanted to be Lee - a generalisation, I know, but let's just remember nobody was pretending to be Lee's tough-guy nemesis, Chuck Norris.
By the time I was, unbeknown to my parents, watching Fist of Fury and Enter the Dragon, Lee had been dead for more than a decade. But that was irrelevant: we were still ready to serve our master. Every umbrella was a sword to be swung; strings of sausages were whipped around like deadly nunchucks; every playground kick or punch was accompanied by its own exaggerated high-pitched sound effect. I would have killed hundreds of imaginary baddies, with a barrage of high-flying roundhouses, to wear Lee's Game of Death jumpsuit. Thanks to Lee (and Masaaki Sakai, who played the titular character - "born from an egg on a mountain top" - in the television series Monkey) everybody I knew was kung fu fighting. And given his popularity more than 9,000 kilometres from his hometown, it's no surprise he was celebrated here as the pride of Hong Kong.
I Am Bruce Lee (Discovery Channel, Saturday at 8pm) tells the story of this star and explores his ever-expanding legacy in the world of martial arts and entertainment. The documentary charts Lee's journey from child star to pop culture icon via interviews with people who knew him well, including his daughter, Shannon, and widow, Linda. It also expounds on the enormous impact of his groundbreaking films, with testimonials (and some rather lame impressions) from an array of international stars from the worlds of sport and entertainment; and, through archive footage, we learn about Lee's unique philosophies on life.
I Am Bruce Lee beautifully illustrates the man's charm and charisma; and indeed his grace and engaging personality are what really shine through in this timely tribute to the master of the one-inch knockout punch.
Forgive me - I have a teeny weeny confession to make. There's something I've been hiding from my loved ones for many years now: I shamefully concede that I quite enjoyed the first series of medical drama Grey's Anatomy (by season three I couldn't be McBothered) and I was never totally appalled by the emotionally unstable Ally McBeal. However, I guarantee I will not be making similar admissions regarding Grey's knock-off Emily Owens, MD (TVB Pearl, Tuesday at 8.30pm).
Mamie Gummer, daughter of actress Meryl Streep, stars as the insecure protagonist, a young medical resident beginning an internship at Denver Memorial Hospital. She soon discovers that her fellow novices include Will (Justin Hartley, Smallville), the dreamy guy she had a crush on at med school, and Cassandra, her teenage tormentor, all of which leads to one humiliation after another for poor awkward Emily. The hospital, like high school, is full of cliques, and life, it seems, gets no easier once you've finished squeezing spots. Add in a script full of teenage angst, 90210 levels of soap opera squabbling and a voiceover monologue that just never ever shuts up and you have, for anyone who has finished puberty, a whole new ring of TV hell. I'd rather dangle my nether regions over Satan's eternal barbecue than be forced to watch another episode. Nurse, the morphine, quick!
A new series of Top Gear (No20) also begins this week (BBC Knowledge, tonight at 9.50pm) but as Emily Owens has destroyed my will to live I've nothing much left for Jeremy Clarkson and his corduroy gang, so let's just say it's business as usual in their world of four-wheeled fun. You must know by now if this will get you revved up or not.
Moving on, then. With so many travel shows on TV these days, their success often seems to boil down to the personality of the presenter - in other words, whether he or she can connect with the locals to reveal the real character of a place. Waterfront Cities of the World (TLC, Thursday at 9pm) is an exploration of vibrant ports across the globe as conducted by world renowned photographer Heidi Hollinger. This week we begin close to home - in Singapore (above left) - but whether it's the place itself, Hollinger, the people she encounters or the stories told, the show somehow manages to remove the city-state's sparkle. It errs too much on the side of informative at the expense of being entertaining; and while you might assume that with Hollinger on board it would at least be visually arresting, the Lion City manages to look as dull as the fug that recently enveloped it.