Assignment: Oil and Terror Sat 7.10pm BBC2
Nostromo Sat 9.30pm BBC2
Exotica and Erotica of the Deep Sun 8pm C4
A Touch of Frost Sun 8pm ITV
The South Bank Show Sun 10.45pm ITV
OK, then, fantasy casting time. Imagine that Hollywood - or Film Four, more likely - decided to make a biopic of Gilbert and George, the singular British artists - or artist, singular, as Melvyn Bragg insists on calling them - who would you have play our expressionless and besuited protagonists? Alexei Sayle and Jeremy Irons? Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer? A pair of crash test dummies? Ten minutes into The South Bank Show (Sun ITV) and its riveting portrait of this deeply odd couple (imagine Orton and Halliwell without the jealousy and self-destruction), I had settled on Peter Lorre and John Gielgud. Ten minutes further on, and I had given up all such flippancy, and developed an unexpected admiration for Gilbert and George - the integrity of their artistic vision, the power of their art and, especially, their ability to tie middle-class art critics into hand-wringing knots.
Just for this, you can forgive them gliding around their local Bangladeshi supermarket like Siamese twins on their way to a Kraftwerk fan club reunion. Even if they say so themselves, they have nothing whatsoever to do with the "Chelsea art world", and their rather splendid isolation has nurtured a world-beating talent. Or talents.
Witnessing this teasing blend of personae, it's hard to get too worked up about the latest romantic complications between Clark Kent and Lois Lane in the new series of The New Adventures of Superman (Sat BBC1). By the way, whatever happened to the lovely Teri Hatcher, who seems to have let herself become re-invented in the dreadful Hollywood style of feminine "beauty"? Dean Cain, as Kent/Superman, is going in the opposite direction - towards a beefy, sort of Will Carling build. Anyhow, Superman has been whisked away to his home planet for an arranged marriage, and the unrequited love storyline - the real engine of this long-runner - can continue to chug away.
Nostromo (Sat BBC2) is sticking to its narrative guns, or dynamite - tunnelling its way through Conrad's unforgiving text, as the Independent's Thomas Sutcliffe put it. I'm warming to this strangely heroic enterprise, with its sheer bloody-minded determination to tell a story.
By the most sophisticated of scheduling - or, more likely, by utter coincidence - earlier this evening BBC2 is showing an Assignment report called "Oil and Terror" (Sat BBC2), looking at how the petrol company BP's discovery of oil supplies in central Colombia has stoked up a civil war in the region. Nostromo, of course, was filmed in Colombia. For oil, read silver.
A new series of A Touch of Frost (Sun ITV) opens with a ducking and weaving adaptation by Malcolm Bradbury. David Jason is filling out nicely into the role of DI Jack Frost, the cheerfully reactionary copper, with his distrust of ambitious women, carpeted police stations and anyone under the age of 40. At last a worthy successor to John Thaw's Inspector Morse. And finally, Exotica and Erotica of the Deep (Sun C4). This Australian wildlife offering is about the sex life of fish and other assorted sea life, and contains a hysterical deadpan commentary from a certain Dr Reg Lipsom. I kept expecting Reg to be revealed as Chris Morris or Harry Enfield. Too much satire is obviously bad for one.
The big picture
Sat 12.20am BBC2
Made in the same year as Abel Gance's Napoleon - 1927 - this long- forgotten silent masterpiece by Russian emigre-in-Paris, Alexandre Volkoff, didn't see the light of day until 1931 - well into the era of talkies - which might help explain why it was quickly forgotten and had long remained so. Even then it was heavily censored, but most of these scenes have now been restored by the Cinematheque Francaise. Fellow Russian exile Ivan Mosjoukine plays the great seducer.
The big match
Snooker: the Masters
Sat and Sun, various times BBC1 and BBC2
So there will be no Stephen Hendry (above), last year's winner of the Benson & Hedges Masters, beaten by the man whom he beat in last year's final, Ronnie O'Sullivan. This is good news for those who prefer personality over consistency (this was only Hendry's third defeat in 32 matches) - as O'Sullivan is the nearest the top end of this sport comes to a "personality" now that Jimmy White has become entrenched in the losing habit.Reuse content