An affair to remember

THERE is another version of Fatal Attraction (World, 9.35m) available (hard to find, but it is out there somewhere) that features director Adrian Lyne's original ending. The original ending is better than the one shown in cinemas (and hence the one you will see this evening), but was changed by the producers because it did not go down well with a test audience that was obviously chosen from a passing busload of Japanese tourists.

Nevertheless, Fatal Attraction was more than a box-office smash. It became a cultural phenomenon. It is an excellent psychological drama and only begins to fall apart at the seams when it reaches that substitute ending. Cheap thrills replace intelligence, but that's Hollywood for you, as Adrian Lyne discovered to his creative cost.

Michael Douglas, son of Kirk with the dimple in his chin, plays Dan Gallagher, a Manhattan lawyer who loves his beautiful wife (Anne Archer) and six-year-old daughter.

But lawyers are never perfect (they only think they are) and when Gallagher meets Alex (Glenn Close) he has a brief fling with her and tries to leave without so much as a by your leave.

She is having none of it and slowly but very surely - as Alex begins to make life difficult for him and his family - he realises she is one sandwich short of a picnic.

The performances in Fatal Attraction are all a cut above the usual. Close does a particularly good job of going bonkers and Archer does a nice turn as the steady, but alluring wife.

It is a shame about the thrill-a-minute conclusion. Don't let it spoil your enjoyment.

IT is billed as a comic thriller, but do not be fooled by Arachnophobia (Pearl, 9.30pm). At times it is scarier than a late-night taxi ride. It was produced by one of Steven Spielberg's production companies and directed with great panache by Frank Marshall.

The plot is essentially the stuff of B-movies, but is handled with irresistible charm. Jeff Daniels is a country doctor who hates spiders. Little does he know that a wayward tropical variety - one that hitched a lift to the US in a coffin - has set up home in his barn and started breeding like the clappers.

When people start dying Daniels finds out why. But the sceptical old-time doctor he is due to replace does not believe him.

Arachnophobia is not a film for the faint-hearted, but watch it if you dare - the performances are exceptional (in a camp sort of way) and the pace unrelenting.

FILM-MAKERS Adrian Warren and Mark Stouffer are responsible for this evening's episode of National Geographic Special (World, 8.35pm), Giant Pandas: The Last Refuge. They shot unprecedented film of the pandas, an endangered species, in their native habitat in the jungles of China. For the first time ever, you can witness the intimate nature of the relationship between mother panda and cub in the den.

IN The Green Hornet (World, 7.30pm) Van Williams and Bruce Lee discover that a well-known health club owner is brainwashing his clients and taking large amounts of cash from them. Some of you might like to draw parallels with health club owners in Hong Kong.

IF you have not yet caught up with The X-Files (Pearl, 8.30pm) do not rush. This is the series that replaced NYPD Blue, but it is not as compulsive. The premise of The X-Files is simple, but sadly not especially original. Two FBI agents are assigned to work on cases that have a paranormal aspect. In Squeeze, the episode in question, they investigate a serial killer who bumps off his victims in locked rooms and tears out their livers. NO such gruesome-ness in Thirtysomething (World, 1.50am).

Instead Michael (Ken Olin) is contemplating his upwardly-mobile navel. His company is in trouble. What should he do? There will be many among you, I suspect, who don't care.