Dark dramas

Laura Innes is well known to viewers of ER (Pearl, 9.30pm) as the fiercely independent Dr Kerry Weaver.

While George Clooney used ER as a platform for movie stardom, Innes learnt enough during four seasons in front of the cameras to direct tonight's episode, Power.

Innes had to grapple with filming without light as a power outage is central to the drama of this episode, an obvious cue for more heroic life-saving activities as equipment fails.

In the US, ER's ratings have slid since Clooney left. The popular Julianna Margulies, who plays his pregnant girlfriend, nurse Carol Hathaway, is also on her way out at the end of the next season. Rumours that Clooney would return for a few episodes to receive Ross' twin babies do not seem to have materialised in any new contract.

In tonight's episode, Hathaway tries to let the absent Ross know of her predicament.

In the original script Margulies' character was killed off shortly after joining the series five years ago. But viewers liked her too much for that, so death by suicide was re-written to be an unsuccessful attempt. When she does depart the show will struggle even further to live up to the success of its Clooney days.

The words 'sandwich', 'mirror' and 'subway', like so much else in Millennium (Pearl, 10.30pm) are steeped in mysterious significance or, for the uninterested, cultish mumbo jumbo. They form the code to the location where the new Messiah will appear and, surprise surprise, that has to be in New York, not distant lands such as the Middle East.

Real-life conspiracies are abounding for Millennium's producer, Chris Carter, who also created Pearl's most popular drama series, The X-Files. In the United States Millennium has been pulled just weeks before the new millennium. It was replaced by Carter's new mix of virtual reality and the supernatural, Harsh Realm, which scored so badly in ratings that it was dropped after three episodes.

Carter, meanwhile, is faced with a lawsuit over Harsh Realm from the creator of the comic book that sparked the idea. The X-Files, with episodes attracting up to 97 per cent of the English-language audience here, is also approaching its end amid bitterness and a lawsuit from star David Duchovny. Production is reported to have stopped with the end of Duchovny's contract, though Hong Kong fans have one more season to look forward to.

Who in their right minds would like to live in the sea? Hunters (Discovery, 8pm) reveals the gruesome statistic that the chances of any marine creature escaping death in the jaws of another are about one billion to one.

The Dangerous Sea looks at the arsenal of defences that sea creatures have developed in the fight for survival, including armoured shells, stinging cells, elaborate camouflage, chemical screens and electric charges. Yet for every innovation in defence, nature has developed a counter-ploy ensuring fair play between predator and prey.