Trapped in channel time warp

Teri Fitsell

LADIES and gentlemen . . . tonight, in the blue corner we have ATV World, in the red corner TVB Pearl but, for once the person getting hammered in the middle is not the viewer - provided he/she's got a VCR that is.

In a ridiculous piece of jostling for audience position, both channels are showing Back to the Future movies. The one-upmanship started when Pearl secured BTTF III for the first time on Hong Kong television. Not to be outdone, World immediately scheduledboth the original film and BTTF II for the same night.

Which all leaves viewers in the superior position of either just watching III since the first two have been on before, or watching the first two while taping III, thereby enjoying the whole trilogy.

In case you need reminding, Back to the Future (World 8.30pm, Original Running Time 107 mins) saw Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Doc (Christopher Lloyd) travelling back through time in a DeLorean to 1955 when Marty's parents first met.

Trouble is, Marty's mom shows more signs of fancying him than his father, which leads to lots of fun solving the more unusual problems of time travel - like avoiding incest and ensuring his parents actually do meet in order for him to be born. BACK to the Future Part II (World, 10.40pm, ORT 107 mins) is rather more frenetic, but less endearing than the first. McFly is whisked forward to 2015 where he must prevent his own grown-up kids going to jail. At the same time, town bully Biff (Thomas F. Wilson) hasnicked a sporting almanac and the DeLorean and gone back to the 1950s to make himself rich and the town a sleazy hellhole.

Surprisingly nasty at times and confusing, but enjoyable within the context of the other two films. Watch out for Fox playing several generations and genders of McFlys. THE final film, Back to the Future Part III (Pearl 9.30pm, ORT 118 mins) may well be the best of the lot. Doc, who always had a yen for the Wild West, is happily settled in 1885 and has sent a message to Marty McFly (in 1985) to destroy the time-travelling DeLorean.

But when Marty discovers Doc is destined to be killed by dastardly villain Mad Dog Tannen (Wilson again), he has to go back and rescue him. Marty's arrival in 1885 slap-bang in the middle of a Red Indian charge is delightful, so's the ol' West setting inwhich Marty struts around a la Sergio Leone.

Even Doc gets to fall in love (with Mary Steenbergen), though it looks doubtful he'll keep the girl.

All three movies were produced by Steven Spielberg, but it is director Robert Zemeckis who takes full credit for the sheer exuberance of the trilogy. NINE o'clock is rather early to be showing a programme about mass pronking isn't it? Before you rush to blindfold the goldfish, the synopsis for Springbok of the Kalahari (Pearl, 9pm) explains that ''pronking'' is the term used to describe the action of springboks (the antelopes, not the rugby team) when they arch their backs, leap, land on four rigid legs, then leap again (well okay, it could be the rugby team).

The programme shows how these fleet-footed creatures survive being ambushed by lions, predict when and where rain will fall and, er, pronk. KATIE Ledger leaves her passengers in a cold sweat as she makes her first attempt to land an aeroplane for Eye on Hongkong (Pearl, 7.20pm). Full marks to the brave camera crew who went up with Katie to record the event.

Gloria Wu is on safer ground, interviewing Tiffany, the young lass who sang I Think We're Alone Now, and who is now back after a five-year hiatus.

Later in the show, top squash players Jansher Khan and Chris Dittmar speak to Oliver Tan about this week's HK Squash Open, and Anthony Lawrence appears to talk about his new book The Fragrant Chinese.