PUNTERS can have their Wednesday night fill of horse-racing from Happy Valley in Racing Night Live (World 8.30pm), while on the other terrestrial channel four psychics experience major problems in a close encounter with five puppets of a particularly nasty kind in Puppet Master (Pearl 9.30pm, Original Running Time 90 minutes). These Pinnochios-with-attitudes are the creations of master puppeteer William Hickey (The Name of the Rose ), who has discovered the secret of life and used it to give his puppets soul. Trouble is, he forgot to provide them with a Jiminy Cricket each, so not only do they not have any conscience about telling lies, they're pretty blase about mass slaughter too. Tunneller has an irritating habit of boring holes in people, Leech Woman drains her victims of blood, Blaze has a gleaming hook for one hand and a razor-sharp knife for the other . . . you get the picture. A SOUND alternative is the first episode of a new Ruth Rendell Mystery An Unwanted Woman (STAR Plus 8.30pm). The series, by British crime-writer Rendell, may not quite be Inspector Morse, but it's well put together and the stories suitably baffling. George Baker (I, Claudius ) stars as burly West Country detective Chief Inspector Wexford and Detective Burden is his suspicious sidekick. Their newest case involves the strange deaths of two old ladies. IN ''What Price Talent?'', Hong Kong Connection (7.20pm) looks at two gifted youngsters who talk about the often painful experience of being considered teenage ''brainboxes''. A university professor and an educational psychologist assess their talent and point out that their potentials are not being fully realised under the existing school system. YOU'VE played the computer game, watched the kiddies' cartoon (Thursdays on World), and got the T-shirt. Now, see how they turned it all into a movie in The Making of Super Mario Bros (Pearl 11.15pm). Hollywood's Cockney-of-the-moment Bob Hoskins (Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Hook ) and John Leguizano play those hardworking warehouse workers: short, fat Mario and tall, skinny Luigi. The movie is scheduled to open in Hong Kong cinemas in the next few weeks, but don't get too excited - American critics panned it for being not half as much fun as playing the original game. AFTER an insipid interview with Tom Cruise in the pilot show of E! Extreme Close-up, let's hope tonight's chat (STAR Plus 7pm) with pulp writer Jackie Collins proves more diverting. The authoress, who made kazillions out of best-selling sizzlers like Hollywood Wives and Lucky, will be exposing what she terms the ''rules'' of Tinseltown. There will also be an ''intimate'' discussion on her new book American Star - A Love Story, her latest literary orgy. THE best bits of Graham Baker's 1988 film Alien Nation were the performances by James Caan and Mandy Patinkin. Shame then, that they don't feature in the TV series spin-off, whose pilot episode is shown tonight (World 12.05am). It's three years since the alien slave ship crashed into the Mojave desert, and its occupants, affectionately known as Slags, have been assimilated into American society - well nearly. Some humans resent these highly intelligent newcomers. Gary Graham takes on Caan's movie role as LA detective Sikes, whose partner was killed by a Slag and so is pretty hostile when his new sidekick (Eric Pierpoint) turns out to be one of the same. This is going to have to be good to compete with Taxi (Pearl 12.50am) which is still occupying that ridiculously late time slot.