From its original title, one could assume that The Ref is about one of those sergeant-major sports types, unappreciated on and off the soccer pitch as he squares off rumbustious players, male or female. But the ref referred to is no sportsman, but a cat burglar out to create trouble on Christmas Eve. This seasonal farce featuring stand-up comic Denis Leary in the title role was given a new and equally mystifying identity as Hostile Hostages (Pearl, 9.35pm). The two names, though, together describe the plot. Leary, on the run following a botched jewel robbery, finds he has made a bigger mistake in kidnapping the most argumentative couple in the world in Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey. With no escape from their strife-ridden home, he is forced to take on the unlikely role of marital referee, his nightmare getting worse as obnoxious children and relatives arrive for the festive evening. Director Ted Demme, nephew of Jonathan Demme (Silence Of The Lambs and Philadelphia), seems to be associated with unimaginative titles. Others to his credit include Action, Life, Gun and, in production, Blow. But that should not detract from this entertaining take on family hell at Christmas time. We have reached the downward slope in the story of The Human Body (Pearl, 8.30pm), with As Time Goes By focusing on old age. We learn that one of the unique features about humans is that we live long enough to grow old, possibly because we can further the interests of the species as grandparents or community elders. 'Perhaps our ability to live to a ripe old age is the human body's greatest achievement,' Professor Robert Winston says. Bud Mather, 78, and his wife Viola, 63, cattle-ranchers in the American Midwest, share their experiences of age, while Winston explains why hearing, sight and cells gradually degenerate. One of the facts that we should note is that it takes 200,000 frowns to etch in one frown line on a wrinkled forehead. The final chapter in the human story has been postponed by TVB until after the holiday season. The last episode, on death, would hardly be light entertainment for the Christmas or millennium eves. The contrasting literary styles and careers of writers in different Chinese communities are an intriguing comment on the history of Greater China. Siblings Of The Dragon (World, 7pm) contrasts the persecuted and melancholic Bai Hua, author of Kulian (Bitter Love), with the commercially driven Hong Kong writer Uranus Leung. The latter is only 26 but he has already published 80 romance novels and built up a huge fan base among local teenagers. Bai, in contrast, remains bitter to this day over the suffering heaped on authors regarded as a clique who 'defy the party through their novel writing'. Creative writing has flourished more freely in Taiwan. Huang Chun-ming is less commercially minded. He regards himself as the spokesperson of the ordinary person, with the lives of innocent children and helpless old people his popular subjects.