Television preview

A laboratory video-screen fizzes lazily into life, and from it start to float blobs of a strange ecto- plasmic or seminal ooze. An unfortunate actor is made to cry: "My God, it's coming!" Such is the inauspicious beginning of Cold Lazarus (Sun C4), Dennis Potter's four-part sequel to Karaoke - things, as Howard Jones so fervently hoped in an entirely different context, can only get better.

They do, after a fashion. What is "coming" is the screen representation of Daniel Feeld's memories, extracted from his brain by scientists in the year 2368. Feeld, the hero of Karaoke (played by Albert Finney), is now nothing more than a cryogenically frozen head wired up to some hi- tech gizmos. The neuroscientists, headed by Frances de la Tour, hope that Feeld's memories might provide an escape from their sci-fi dystopia, in which all the buildings are shaped like giant mushrooms.

The real star of the show is the enormous budget, which gives designer Christopher Hobbs his head to create a gorgeous, retro-decadent future. The actors try very hard, but their lines are quite often stunningly banal, and injecting excessive melodramatic weight into a stinker like "You have tilted tit-up into an overspend" doesn't help. Still, after the boring mess of Karaoke, Cold Lazarus at least has a story worth the name, and as a triumph of money and style over content is weirdly compelling. "Muck fee!" exclaims boffin Fyodor (Ciaran Hinds on a ripe mittel- European accent trip) at one point, borrowing the puerile Spoonerisms of Karaoke. Muck fee, indeed.

Disembodied heads are something of a theme this weekend: Everyman (Sun BBC1) gets in on the act with a fun film about "The Mystery of the Crystal Skulls". Said skulls, carved from quartz crystal, are artefacts, thought to be Mayan, which, when all 13 are returned to their place of origin, will reveal the mysteries of the universe and save mankind. They are apparently gifts from spacemen (from the Pleiades constellation, if you want to know), which were passed on to the Mayans and thence to the denizens of Atlantis. Everyman - and here's the hook - has tracked down four of these fascinating objets to be tested for authenticity at the British Museum.

Annoyingly, the programme won't separate claims by loonies which are obviously untestable, from claims by loonies which are simply wrong. No one's going to argue with the woman who says that the skulls "enable you to talk with other quadrants of the galaxy" (it's good to talk, after all). Someone else, though, selling the mystical significance of quartz, tells us that "The Earth is 40 per cent quartz crystal". No it isn't. Quartz makes up about 12 per cent of the Earth's crust; most of the inside is iron and nickel. And those laboratory tests on the skulls? Ah, well, they're inconclusive. The mystery continues...

If it's certainty you're after, look no further than the Stars in Their Eyes Live Final (Sat ITV), in which you, through the magic of phone-in technology, get to play cabaret god. Matthew Kelly's songfest has only grown in entertainment value since Vic and Bob's hysterical skit last year. I have failed in my critical duties slightly, in that I haven't watched every single heat so far, but I can tell you that the Maria McKee is quite charming, and the Celine Dion competent but tragically misguided. Choose wisely.

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