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Out of this world

AS long as the horses keep running around in circles much of Wednesday evening is going to be dedicated to Robin Parke, Lawrence Wadey and Racing Night Live (World, 8.30pm). The logic behind this is not that horses are great entertainment, but that Racing Night Live, love it or loathe it, is ATV's most popular television show. The advertisers lap it up as much as the punters. ATV rests its case.

Sadly, instead of luring the waverers away from Racing Night Live, TVB tends to capitulate with crummy movies. It has done so again this evening in the dubious form of Steel and Lace (Pearl, 9.30pm), which stars, if that is the right word, Michael Ceveris and Clare Wren, two Hollywood actors who are both less famous that Robin Parke and Lawrence Wadey. TVB might as well show a two-hour film of the tide coming in at Clearwater Bay. Only an evening of Interwood Marketing advertisements could be less fun.

Steel and Lace, made in 1991 and directed by Ernest Farino (his only film of note) is a rather brutal sci-fi thriller. The tone is set early on when a classical pianist (Wren) is gang-raped following her debut performance in Los Angeles. A man (Ceveris) is arrested and stands trial, but is acquitted. Wren is unable to cope with the verdict and kills herself.

From here on Steel and Lace falls into that large and loose genre of the revenge movie. Bruce Davison is the girl's brother. He is also a renowned physicist and NASA scientist and uses his learning to build an android in his sister's image, programmed for vengeance.

The film tries desperately to weave a moral into all the mayhem, but even the moral is a cliche. Men who create monsters come unstuck. I recommend you put 100 big ones on number five in the fourth and use the winnings to buy a good book.

THE upwardly-mobile inhabitants of La-La Land, as portrayed in thirtysomething (World, 1.05am), are finding life is not all a bed of caviar and gurgling, rosy-cheeked babies. Nancy (Patricia Wettig) has cancer, but the chemotherapy seems to be working. She is hedging her bets, however, by sitting at home surrounded by crystals, candles and with new-age music emanating from the Bang and Olufsen. Elliot (Timothy Busfield), meanwhile, has dinner with his mother, an alcoholic.

YUPPIEDOM is more fun for Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt in the sitcom Mad About You (Pearl, 6.55pm). Critics in the US salivated over this series when it was launched. One called it ''the best new comedy of the season''. Another gushed: ''It is natural, funny and brimming with romantic chemistry.'' The story so far is that Reiser and Hunt are Paul and Jamie Buchman, urban newlyweds. Paul is creative, but also cautious, a documentary film-maker. Jamie (the woman) is impulsive and confrontational, a public relations executive.

Their life together, says the programme synopsis, is galvanised by their spirited discussions about careers, friends and family.

STAR PLUS has more than its fair share of comedy. In Doogie Howser M.D. (Star Plus, 8.30pm) Doogie gets a date with a Laker Girl but discovers it is not a match made in heaven. He meets her when he is asked to conduct physicals for the Laker Girls, the kind of job that would make any self-respecting schoolboy give up his dream of being a train driver or an airline pilot.

Doogie, it must be explained, is a pubescent boy who is also a professional doctor. How this came to pass is lost in the mists of episode one.

It is sobering to see that Bruce Willis was good in Moonlighting (Star Plus 9.30pm). Something went terribly wrong when he became famous. Now all he can do is make a complete embarrassment of himself, and everyone else around him, in films such as Death Becomes Her and Hudson Hawk.

THERE are three reports in Eye to Eye With Connie Chung (Pearl, 8.30pm), none of them concerning the Laker Girls. Allen Pizzey investigates the training of South Africa's moronic neo-Nazi extremists, Russ Mitchell meets a man called Bobby Wallace who is making millions in unorthodox fashion, and Bill Geist meets the Jerky Boys, a New York act which entertains folks by making prank telephone calls.

AC Milan and Barcelona are the protagonists in the European Champions' Cup Final (Pearl, 2am), live from Athens, Greece. Barcelona are favourites but AC Milan, even without key suspended players, are unlikely to curl up and die.