Good luck to ATV in its recently stated intention to 'walk out from the shadow of TVB'. A more balanced rivalry between the two channels can only be good news for the viewers. It is possible to see the first signs of ATV's new self-confidence even on World, which has been trailed aggressively on Home, with a hi-tech, 'What a Wonderful World', on-air promotions campaign, and some bold scheduling decisions clearly designed to attract Cantonese speaking viewers. And there is also a promising line-up of programmes designed for the English speaking crowd as well, the most promising of which is without a doubt Ally McBeal (World, 8.30pm). The series has only been going for one full season in the United States and has created a huge splash not just because of its originality and humour, but also because Ally is a controversial role model. She is a highly successful career woman who spends most of her time worrying about how to get a boyfriend, and who chooses to wear very short skirts in court, and these two things have caused many female critics to rise up in anger, seeing the series as a backward rather than a forward step. Apart from exhibiting extreme sense of humour failure, these critics have missed the point. Ally's outer strength and inner turmoil may not be politically correct but they are unerringly accurate. And who is to say being professionally brilliant and yet sensitive enough to worry about your personal life is bad? And if Ally is a bit too much of a babe, then writer and producer David E Kelley should get credit for writing several strong roles for older women too. In the first episode we had Dyan Cannon as Whipper, a fortysomething judge dating a younger man who looked good, and had the guts to say she knew she used to look better. And last week we had former Charlie's Angel Kate Jackson playing a TV news anchor sacked because her male audience no longer wanted to sleep with her. Ageing, fear of being alone, acknowledging the costs to one's personal life of professional success, enjoying looking good, finding it hard to understand the way the opposite sex thinks: does making these issues the subject of a television series demean women? Hardly, but if the men watching don't get it, well, that is something else again. In Seinfeld (Pearl, 9pm) the writers regularly make the whole cast seem self-obsessed, immature, and unsympathetic, and yet no one bleats that this is inappropriate material for entertainment. In this evening's episode, for example, George is overcome with embarrassment when Jerry's latest girlfriend Rachel catches a glimpse of him naked after a swim. What worries him most is not her sight of his genitalia, but the state it is in when she sees it. 'Shrinkage' is the term he uses to describe it, and the word has passed on into standard American English, the mark of a truly great episode.