TODAY'S TELEVISION

Gerard Gilbert recommends The Deep Sun 8pm C4
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The Independent Culture
If your daughter asks for a Xena doll this Christmas, be thankful that she's been weaned off the Spice Girls. If your son asks for one, begin to worry; it could be the beginning of something very expensive (and lucrative for any 21st-century versions of Miss Whiplash). "A dominatrix for all the family", as Vanity Fair dubbed her, Xena: Warrior Princess (Sat C5) is the kinkiest prime-time television since the Batman, Catwoman, Robin menage of the 1960s.

In the same naff style of Hercules: the Legendary Journeys, which preceeds it, its high-kicking, no-nonsense heroine is a bosomy, raven-haired dose of mythical-ages girl-power. Imagine Wonderwoman with attitude, and cast- offs from some Russ Meyer slave-girl epic. The dialogue is thoroughly knowing and modern, and Xena has a teasing, dykey relationship with her sidekick, the fair-haired femme, Gabrielle.

Inevitably, Lucy Lawless (her real name) who plays Xena is a lesbian icon in the States. As is golf. Or rather golf has overtaken tennis as the lesbian sport of choice. This information comes courtesy of Invasion of the Big-Haired Lesbians (Sat C4), which follows the congregation of 20,000 Sapphist club-swingers in California's blue-rinse capital, Palm Springs, for the Dinah Shore Golf Classic. Actually, the golf is largely just an excuse for a weekend-long dyke-athon, "Soddom and Gomorrah meets Butlins", in the film's words.

There's a clash of the titans in David Dimbleby's India (Sat and Sun BBC2), although Dimbleby looks the more bruised by the encounter. The occasion is the 50th anniversary of Independence, and Dimbleby starts his sub-continental journey in Bangalore, capital of the country's emergent computer industry, where Pizza Hut rubs shoulders with disco-ravers sporting the international youth dress-code of trainers and twisted baseball caps. Just as you're beginning to bemoan the loss of an older, more rural India, Dimbleby reminds us that it is still there: bonded child labour, brides burned to death for bringing insufficient dowries, baby girls killed at birth, spectacularly corrupt politicians and all.

While we're still in that part of the world, The Works (Sun BBC2) drops in on Arthur C Clarke in Sri Lanka to hear about his latest sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey - 3001: the Final Odyssey. Clarke's newest predictions include animals biologically engineered as household servants, and people communicating with the palms of their hands, which has got to be better than not communicating at all - Michael Redgrave's chosen mode with his children. Omnibus's Michael Redgrave: My Father (Sun BBC1) has Redgrave's son, Corin, committing biography as an act of revenge, or so he says - the son belatedly trying to get to know his enigmatic papa. It becomes clear that Michael Redgrave's problem (and, it is suggested, the source of his fine acting) was his anguished private bisexuality. "Bisexual to say the least," was how father put it to son on the sole occasion that he chose to mention his predilections. One had already gathered as much. A rich and very personal documentary - ultimately as elusive as its subject.

Probably the best programme of the weekend, though, is an unassuming new series called The Deep (Sun C4), which reminds us, among all the hoo- hah over the Pathfinder mission to Mars, that there is still a huge unexplored region back here on Earth - to wit, the ocean floor. This is the story of man's struggle to get down there without being crushed to a pulp, which is kind of where we came in.

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