Disappointing re-make

EVEN the extensive nudity of the first hour, most of which will be subjected to the careful nips and tucks of TVB's censors, cannot save Meridian (World, 9.30pm) from becoming a poorer version of 1983's Beauty and the Beast.

This was the film in which Susan Sarandon became Klaus Kinski's prisoner and found that love can conquer all. In 1987 it became an outrageously melodramatic television series with Ron Perlman wallowing broken-heartedly in America's sewage system while Linda Hamilton tried to convince herself he was not ugly, just misunderstood.

Meridian has its twists, notably that British actor Malcolm Jamieson's beast is twins - one good and one evil. A troupe of wandering minstrels adds the Shakespearian touch, but throughout it all director Charles Band concentrates too much on the removal of clothing and not enough on the story.

Band has turned these Gothic romps into his house speciality. He was also responsible for Dungeonmaster and The Alchemist.

EXTENSIVE nudity might have put the kick back in Kickboxer II: The Road Back (Pearl, 9.30pm). Instead there is nothing but extensive corn. It starts in Thailand, where kickboxing champion Kurt Sloan has defeated the brutal Tong Po and attempts to leave the country. But Po, as crazy as a cut snake, ambushes him. If you think Jean-Claude can't act, watch this.

IT is camper than a field of boy scouts, but The Green Hornet (World, 9pm) is always fun. The cast list says it all; Barbara Babcock plays an Attractive Girl, Jerry Catron plays First Tough and Roydon Clarke plays Second Tough.

In tonight's episode, Programmed for Death, the Hornet and his trusty Oriental aide, Kato, capture a ring of phony diamond merchants who have caused the death of one of Britt Reid's reporters. Hurrah for the Hornet and for Kato.

IT all starts in mundane fashion when reporter Pal Allen, alone one night in the Daily Sentinel newsroom, is killed by a leopard. Nothing unusual about that. Leopards are a common sight in most newsrooms. There are a few strolling nonchalantly around as I write this column.

But this leopard has escaped from the zoo and Reid, aka The Green Hornet, suspects foul play. There is a tiny radio transmitter in Allen's cigarette pack. Could it have been planted there to lead the animal to him? In the process of finding out, the Green Hornet uses his Hornet Sting Stun Gun.

WALTER Matthau, without the aid of a Hornet Sting Stun Gun, is splendid in The Incident (STAR Plus, 8.30pm). He plays a smalltown lawyer who becomes a pariah when he is forced to defend a German PoW in a murder trial. The film marked Matthau's television movie debut.

They put away their Hornet Sting Stun Guns in Germany when the Wall came tumbling down. In Murder East Murder West (STAR Plus, 12 midnight and 3.30am) Jeroen Krabbe is a wealthy German tycoon whose past comes running after him when the country in reunified.

IT IS nice to welcome back the local current affairs programme Inside Story (World, 8.30pm) after an absence of two weeks, during which, in the words of editor and presenter Sally Round, it has ''freshened-up''. English language television is low on the budget priority list in Hong Kong, and documentary television even lower. It is surprising Inside Story does what it does so well.

Reporter Joanne Gilhooly looks at the possible dangers faced by tourists in Cambodia in the wake of the kidnapping of Dominic Chappell and his Australian girlfriend Kelly Wilkinson, who once lived on Lamma. They were abducted at gunpoint with their friend Tina Dominy.

Jim Sciutto talks to Hong Kong journalists about freedom of the press, or perhaps a lack of it, in China, and deputy editor Vivian McGrath reports on the progress of Vietnamese refugee Ngo Van Ha, the 16-year-old orphan who, after four years in Hong Kong's camps, has started afresh in San Gabriel, California.

WE must also be thankful for The Pearl Report (Pearl, 7.20pm), in which Diana Lin looks at the illegal sale of tiger parts in Hong Kong. Medicine containing tiger parts was due to be taken off the shelves in Hong Kong by April 28, but some shop-owners are planning to circumvent the ban.

The programme also features an interview with Canadian Governor General Ramon Hnatyshyn, who talks about the country's immigration policies, economic conditions and relations between local Canadians and immigrants from Hong Kong.