It has been described as a love story for the 1980s: how a couple who are falling in love cope with the onset of a disease, a scourge of the flesh. It could have been cancer, it could have been AIDS, but in this case it's the man in the relationship turning into a six-foot fly. It would be wrong to say The Fly (Pearl, 9.30pm) is a subtle film - how can there be anything subtle about discovering the hairs sprouting on your back are more usually found on a common housefly - but given that it is by director David Cronenberg, it is surprisingly sensitive. The story pupates much like its 1958 predecessor, with scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) attempting to 'change life as we know it' by transporting matter through air. But when he uses himself as the object to teleport between pods in his warehouse laboratory, he fails to notice the fly that sneaks a lift. (I know it is easy to say with hindsight, but don't you think he would have looked more carefully given the delicate nature of the operation?) Anyway, romance develops between the 'flyman' and science magazine reporter Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis). Brundle, though intellectual, lacks the social skills to seduce Quaife and their courtship is a little clumsy, especially when he starts to mutate at molecular level into a fly - his mind as well as his body changing into the insect. But it is their relationship, which at the time existed off the screen as well as on, that saves the film from being a gore-fest of corroded limbs and inside-out baboons and makes it more than a horror vehicle. Cronenberg draws fine performances from both with the couple perfectly cast: he is suitably off the wall, she is wacky but not weird. The metamorphosis from human to fly - both physically and mentally - is well handled. There's plenty of yuck but it's harrowing rather than horrific. It could have been too sentimental, like its sequel The Fly II, but Cronenberg manages to metamorphose our feelings towards the disease at the same time as metamorphosing Brundle. Entertaining and enlightening, with some fabulous acrobatics. All in all, unless you are a racing fan, Pearl wins hands down in the battle for viewers tonight. The delicious Dr Ross (hearthrob George Clooney) takes out his frustration on a patient in ER (Pearl, 8.30pm). Hathaway is forced to subdue Ross when, after numerous phone calls from his father to the emergency room, Ross reveals his anger by confronting a negligent dad whose children were injured while playing. Greene's estrangement from his wife becomes more complicated when his daughter, Rachel, says she wants her dad to come home. After being unable to save a patient referred to him by Vucelich, Carter is relieved not to have to tell her husband. But when the elderly man hears the bad news from the neurology department, he berates Carter for not being forthright. Relationships - and the disasters surrounding them - are the stuff of sitcoms. And nowhere is this more so than in the Golden Girls (Star, 8pm). Realistic it may not be - four women in their golden years sharing an apartment - but there is something honest and true about their sentiments and feelings. What's more, they don't mind expressing them. One of the things that rings most true about the Golden Girls is that the four of them 'get' their men, so to speak. Unlike many American half-hours, where the bedroom is as sacrosanct as the chapel, these girls put their negligees where their nuptials aren't.