Wartime fable

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 November, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 November, 1995, 12:00am

THE big-budget, high-powered World War II espionage thriller Where Eagles Dare (Pearl, 9.30pm) is your archetypal schoolboy adventure, rather unattractively photographed, but containing the usual variety of excitements and in enough quantity to make it enjoyable.

Of course it's all a bit hard to credit (especially since the poor Germans can't seem to hit anything with their machine guns - present them with a barrage balloon at two feet and they would hit the trees instead), but that's part of the fun.

Richard Burton, in a switch from the heavy dramatic roles that made him famous, is excellent as our hero, John Smith, who leads an elite group of Allied commandos assigned to rescue an American general who is being held captive in a castle. But it is Clint Eastwood who makes it all worthwhile.

He is the young American lieutenant with an individualistic streak. Mary Ure and Ingrid Pitt, as an agent called Heidi, provide respite from all the men.

THE thriller Knight Moves (World, 9.30pm) is a bit ridiculous, with little suspense or sense of reality. A chess champion (Christopher Lambert) is suspected of being a serial killer. The real killer, meanwhile, presents him with teasing clues.

THE formula for The Cosby Mysteries (Pearl, 1.05am) is part family sitcom, part Agatha Christie with contemporary American mores. A dastardly guest star commits a crime that baffles everyone except Cosby (and the viewers). But soon enough clever Cos outwits the perpetrator, confronts him with his misdeeds and sends him to justice.

This sounds interesting, but in fact it isn't. If The Cosby Mysteries were mysterious, and less predictable, they might be more satisfactory. The clues are fired at the audience in such a way as to make you feel the producers and writers expect you to be very stupid. An apparent suicide victim has slashed his wrists. But hang on, the very same suicide victim said while he was still alive that he was afraid of sharp objects. Oh my gawd . . . it must have been . . . murder! THE Inspector Morse season continues with Infernal Serpent (STAR Plus, 9pm), which features the usual unpleasant goings-on in British academia. An eminent environmentalist is bumped off minutes before he is due to give a controversial speech and Morse (John Thaw) can't help but wonder why.

The real mystery is why anyone would want to take part in either Donahue (12 noon) or The Oprah Winfrey Show (3pm). The first features hard-core ex-cons talking about what really goes on in prison and the second features Oprah and a guest called Sinbad. You can watch both shows twice if you want; they repeat at 4am and 3am respectively.

M.A.S.H (1am) has been showing forever and there is no end in sight. If you are in the habit of collecting trivia, you might care to know that the series barely escaped cancellation after first appearing on Sunday evening in autumn 1973 on CBS. The station moved it to Saturday evenings, squeezed between All In The Family and The Mary Tyler Moore Show and it hit fourth in the seasonal ratings and remained a top 10 show for the next nine seasons.

Wisely, the people behind M.A.S.H decided to end it while it was still popular, with a 21/2 hour special entitled Goodbye, Farewell And Amen which was broadcast in the US on 28 February 1983 and was, at the time, the most widely-watched television programme of all time.

In this episode - we are still in the early days in Hong Kong, eight years or so behind the civilised world - a pregnant girl arrives at the 4077th, just in time to deliver.

FILM on Cable Movie Channel: Fox Legend (11pm). A young man sets out to avenge dead foxes by murdering the son of a family who kills them for their fur. It's not an eco-friendly melodrama, but a Hong Kong fantasy, which also features mystery, romance and a Taoist priest. Starring Kelly Yiu and Joey Wong. Directed by Wu Ma in 1991.