Television preview Recommended viewing this weekend
Asteroid is a chip off the old Independence Day block, except that the intergalactic threat is impersonal this time, and more credible. Ask a dinosaur. Michael Biehn, who played the hero in Terminator, runs around manfully evacuating Kansas City; Annabella Sciorra is the astronomer who told them so. It's all right, really, and a lot less monotonous than Independence Day.
It's not a bad night for science fiction, in fact. Crime Traveller (Sat BBC1) has Michael French (shifty ladies' man David Wicks from EastEnders) as a police detective who owns a novel weapon in the fight against crime - a rickety, home-made time machine, knocked up by the department's science officer (Chloe Annett), in her living room. This is a fabulous idea, delivered like a Lew Grade ATV drama circa 1972. I don't how deliberate this was, but the result is a hoot. Sue Johnston plays their boss, expostulating away at each crime scene, Michael Winner- style. The only doubt is with Michael French. Just as some TV actors don't transfer well to the big screen, I'm not sure French travels that well from soaps to the action genre. He acts better with his eyes than with his arms and legs.
After The Real Holiday Show, a real marriage show. Love Life (Sun C4) puts hidden cameras into the home of a couple whose marriage is going through the emotional equivalent of northern Greenland during a cold snap. Enter Dr Janet Reibstein and her five key-words for a happy relationship: "protection", "balance", "focus", "gratitude" and "pleasure". This week's little lesson concerns "protection", or "your partner is your unique ally". And there are examples of real-life happy marriages for us to study - so that we can recognise "protection" in its natural habitat. Uncertain partners might like to watch alone.
Which brings us neatly to Performance, which begins a new run of filmed stage drama with the Donmar Warehouse's 1996 version of Stephen Sondheim's Company (Sat BBC2). Amazingly, this is the first West End revival of this fabulous musical since it first appeared back in 1971. Apart from the stuff about smoking pot for the first time, Sondheim's witty take on the joys and pitfalls of being married/single hasn't dated in the slightest. In fact, in the case of Britain, it is probably more contemporary now than it was in the early 1970s.
The South Bank Show (Sun ITV) takes The Bee Gees back to their Mancunian roots and demonstrates that, like all great pop survivors (although association with Saturday Night Fever nearly killed them), they are first and foremost great song-writers. Omnibus (Sun BBC1) has a tantalising portrait of the 88-year-old Count Balthazar Klossowski de Rola, to give the painter Balthus his real name. Balthus is probably best-known for his "enigmatic" portraits of young girls - enigmatic in the sense that the young girls are eroticised. Balthus swears he is not, as he puts it, a follower of Nabokov. "The young- girl issue" as Balthus puts it, comes to dominate the film. A pity.
The big picture
Sun 9.30pm BBC2
Writing about Oliver Stone's marathon take on the assasination of President Kennedy, this paper's Adam Mars-Jones referred to Stone "compulsively fingering the stigmata of the martyred Kennedy". Here it is then, in slow- motion, flashback - any way you want it - the events of November 1963, with Kevin Costner (above) as New Orleans DA Jim Garrison, trying to get to the bottom of things. Factually shaky and carried away by its own rhetoric, but Stone has done little that is better.
The big match
Five Nations: England v France
Sat 2.25pm BBC1
Terrestrial viewers' last chance to watch this fixture (all of England's Twickenham games have been bought by BSkyB) and this is the one which will decide where the silverware goes this year. Phil de Glanville may have called for a clamp-down on the pre-match nastiness, but don't necessarily expect the civilities to last on the pitch. The Tricolores are without all their first-choices for the three-quarter line, but welcome back Alain Penaud (above), captain of European club champions, Brive.
Arts & Ents blogs
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- 4 Yes, the iPhone 6 is a miracle, but it's Apple's tax affairs that deserve a double take
- 5 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
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