Popular girls are brain candy

COMEDY DRAMA POPULAR Channel 5, Sat 5 Jan, 1 pm 000

Popular is Heathers without the wit. yet another of those American teen satires that claims to ‘poke fun' at the shallow values of High School while all the while promoting and reinforcing them. Welcome to Kennedy High. where even the geeks are beautiful and the students basically fall into two camps. The popular spons jocks and cheerleaders are led by blonde smile-on—a-stick Brooke McOueen (typical line: ‘l am sooo admiring your Gwyneth look”) while the rebels and losers are championed by sassy Goth Sam McPherson ('l'm going to get a tattoo. It's a true individualistic statement.‘ she pouts.i The two worlds are set tO collide head-on In this 22-part series. when Brooke's father starts dating Sam's mother. and the pair are forced to re-examine their strictly defined roles within the school's hierarchy. While there are some refreshingly off-the-wall moments here. including a Singing Greek chorus a la Ally McBeal. this remains fairly conventional stuff. Candy for the brain as well as the eyes. (Allan Radcliffe)


MURDER IN MIND: PASSION BBC1, Sat 5 Jan, 9.05pm 00

The BBC only has five talents in its acting pool.

90 THE LIST —'-— ‘i 7' Ja'i 2332

so the producers of Murder ln Mind must have been thanking their good fortune when they scored the shiniest star in the channel's narrow firmament. Pauline OLiirke.

in the one-off Passion. Ouirke dresses down as Jane. a dowdy. call centre supervisor and part-time psycho stalker with a demonic crush On her married boss Steve (Mark Womackl. Much to Jane's chagrin. Steve also appears to be putting in overtime at the office with another colleague.

As might be expected. the plot quickly descends into daft melodrama. with the murderOuS OLiirke increaSingly resembling a hybrid of Kathy Bates ii‘i Misery and a slimline verSion of her own character from The SCLi/ptress. The scenario here is wafer-thin. the script banal. the minor characters woefully sketched. but Quirke remains watchable and Sympathetic as ever. among the Supporting cast of underused non- entities. (Allan Radcliffe)

DRAMA SMALLVILLE Channel 4, Sun 6 Jan, 1.15pm 000

S/na/lvi/le is a prediiel to the better known adventures of

Superman. focusing upon Clark Kent's teenage years growing Lip in the Midwest farming community. Although the Man of Steel's origin remains unchanged he's still a super-powered orphaned refugee from the extinct planet Krypton his stay has been updated from the 19408 to a modern setting.

Each episode sees Kent dOing battle (but concealing his powersl with a Supervillain electrified zombie. bug- bov. pyrotechnic- wielding football coach each of them the mutant product of the Kryptonite meteOr shower in which Superman arrived.

It's glossy. well- produced drama that mixes Dali/SON 's Creek's teen romance storylines (Kent's dream girl Lana Lang is dating the local football hunki with Buffy The Vampire Slayers supernataral adventures. Although it's formulaic stuff. there's much pleaSure to be derived from the ironic comment on Kent's later life: his best pal in SING/ANNE is none other than Lex Luthor. later to become Superman's arch enemy.

(Miles Fielderl ANIMATlON


4.35pm 000

Now. I had thought that

everyone needed good ifeigthLirS. But here. the only decent streetmate is a dead one. preferably on the plate with potatoes and veg accompaniment. After all. this is contemporary CiTV. a world or two away from bubble perms on Magpie.

Boasting a cast of talents you're more used to seeing lf‘. proper live action drama stuff. we

have a risk-loving rabbit. debonair fox and shouty wolf all gnarling at each other's throats Or tossmg off bon mots as the individual breeds attempt to outwit one another.

But once y0u've recognised the famous folk's voices (Robert Lindsay. Simon Callow. Doon Mackichan. Tim Mclnerney and Mike MCShane for five). you realise that you're left with a fairly Iikeable set- up but one that simply isn't daft enough to sustain interest. Worth catching but don't bunk off early to see it.

(Brian Donaldsonl

DOCUMENTARY EDGE OF THE UNIVERSE Channel 4, Mon 7 Jan, 9pm 0..

Did yOu know that since 1995. astronomers have rummaged around the solar system and discovered 40 new planets? As with most sciencey shows. the stats. data and trivia are chucked about merCilessly to make yOu gasp with astonishment.

So. yOLi may be amazed to know that these SCientists use telescopes so powerful they could see a candle burning on Mars. ShOLild they spot a star wobbling. this COuld mean that a planet is going ab0ut its orbital business.

But once you get past these Wild details. you're left with a series that doesn't so much as blind you with science. as give yOLi a migraine from over-zeaIOLis graphics.

This first part of three takes a look at these new discoveries in the skies and concludes that they are raging balls of hellfire. similar to the blaZing pits which the peasants were thrown into in the film She. But the visual and aural bombardment makes this series not quite so hot. (Brian Donaldson)

DRAMA JEOPARDY BBC1, Tue 8 Jan, 4.35pm 0..

Imagine if Human Traffic had been made for kids TV and it was abOLtt UFO-hunting in the Australian bush rather than drugs and

Jeopardy relies on Big Brother dynamics

clubbing. That's getting close to what Jeopardy lookshke.

Jaunty camcorder shots mix with a dance soundtrack to create that informal MTV feel. but the difference here is the fantastically mad premise: Falkirk High School UFO group go down under to camp out at a site where a Scottish couple had an alien enc0unter. And the parents signed the consent form for this?

SurpriSingly natural performances from the yOung actors make this realistic and engaging. but at the same time there‘s a feeling that this is going to drag out as the makers bank on the Big Brother-style group dynamic to Sustain interest.

The bonus is that this is scripted. so at least we should get some drama. Bring on the first alien abduction.

(LOuisa Pearson)


Subscribing to the Muhammad Ali school of self-belief. Naseem Hamed is the finest featherweight boxer Britain has ever produced. A genuine showman, his cocky attitude and actions

have won him as many critics as fans.

Undefeated in 35 professional bouts. Naz is seen facing the hardest fight of his career. Jez Higham's film traces the eight-week build-up to his battle in Las Vegas with the ‘baby-faced assassin'. Marco Antonio Barrera.

The similarities between this and snippets of the Rocky movies are alarming. The contrasting pre—fight worlds the two boxers inhabit are astounding: Naz gets his barber flown in from LA and demands the presidential suite at the MGM Grand while Barrera spars at the local public gym.

Naz forever treads a fine line between precocious prima donna and ultra-focused Super- athlete. clearly excelling at both. The impartial perspective and revealing inSights of this film make it an excellent ponrait of a pugilist. (Mark Robertson)


The Double Life Of Jonathan King (Channel 4. Mon 7 Jan, 70pm; Jon Ronsons dOCLimentary ab0ut the convicted pop impresario.

Sean Connery: Close- Up (Channel 5. Tue 8 Jan. 8pm; Our local hero's story told in his own words.

100 Greatest Sporting Moments (Channel 4. Sat 72 Jan. 9pm; Vinnie JOnes presents this latest nostalgia trip. Stig Of The Dump (BBCT. Sun 73 Jan.

6. 75pm; Culty kids show returns with modern look and feel.

EX:S lBBCl. Tue 75 Jan, 70.30pm) Scottish arts series kicks off with Cangir/ Confidential ab0ut the 19708 lager- tin lovelies.