OLIVER Stone's Platoon (World, 9.30 pm) won an Oscar for Best Picture and rightly so. It's a shattering experience. Writer-director Stone (if you subscribe to the overworked Vietnam trilogy theory this is the first) used his first-hand knowledge to createone of the most realistic war films made. Soldiers do not die gloriously, but blubber for their mothers. Platoon was an immediate hit with critics and audiences, but by rights it should not have been. Stone had an incredibly low budget of only US$6.5 million (HK$50 million). He took his cast and crew to the Philippines and shot the whole movie in 54 days. Chris (Charlie Sheen) is a green recruit and child of privilege who finds himself in Vietnam as a member of a platoon divided against itself. One one side is Sergeant Barnes (Tom Berenger), a horribly scarred veteran who is morally bankrupt and a remorseless killing machine. On the other is Sergeant Elias (Willem Dafoe) who, though equally skilled in the ways of death, still demonstrates some humanity and compassion. Chris is caught between the two in what he describes as ''a battle for the possession of my soul''. The film's power comes from its realism; the dampness, the humidity, the jungle rot, the mosquitoes, the mental torture. No idealism, no love of the country, just a desire to end the madness one way or another. WHEN we last saw unmarried mum and television news presenter Murphy Brown (Pearl, 6.55 pm) she was being harangued by potato-head Dan Quayle for being a bad example to everyone; a worse example than a vice-president who cannot spell potato. The new series, still starring Candice Bergen as Murphy, opens with the days after the birth of her son. Look out also for many not-so-subtle jabs at Mr Quayle. The series was shown last year in the US so some of the jokes are old, but anyone who can spell potato should be able to understand them. IN Nothing in Common (Pearl, 9.30 pm) Tom Hanks is an adolescent advertising executive who wants to talk about himself, which is what advertising executives generally want to talk about. He is forced to grow up when his parents divorce and his father moves in. Good performance from Hanks, but painfully long. Thirst (Pearl, 1.15 am) is better than its sounds. It stars Chantal Contouri as a woman abducted by a secret society that wants to turn her into a baroness-vampire. Is that like Lady Thatcher? Tyne Daly (remember Cagney and Lacey ?) plays a homeless woman in the touching Face of a Stranger (World, 2.15 am). She ''lives'' near a socialite (Gena Rowlands) who is left penniless when her husband dies. SOMETHING of interest pops up on children's television for the first time in a long time. Children's Dreams (World, 6.30 pm) is not the usual patronising hotch-potch of custard pies, cheapskate games and moronic grown-up hosts - ''Hello children, guess what we are going to do today?'' - but a series of films from France looking at children discovering animals. Sixty films were made. Among those still to come are Sebastian and the Shark, Cora and the Donkey, Stephanie and the Dolphins, and so on. THE BBC documentary series Cracking the Code (Pearl, 8.30 pm) is the story of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which is difficult to spell. It investigates the human genetic code and asks some big questions. All cancers are caused by genetic faults. Does our new understanding of these faults mean we can find a cure? Do genes programme our time of death, or do they lose interest in our bodies once they have been passed on to our children? Answers on a postcard please . . .