Cable TV visits Cape Horn, Afghanistan. Alcyone voyage not halcyon after all

Cousteau's Rediscovery of the World - Cape Horn: Waters of the Wind WTBS/cable, Saturday, 8:05-9:05 p.m. Repeated Sunday, 5:30 p.m.; Tuesday, 11:20 p.m.; and Monday, Dec. 22, 11 p.m. Producers: Jean-Michel Cousteau and Mose Richards. Writer: Mr. Richards. Narrator: Raymond Burr. It was inevitable that Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his crew of adventurous explorer-scientists would get around to navigating the most dreaded and dangerous sea passage in the world: Cape Horn. What was not expected was that their revolutionary turbo-sail windship, Alcyone, would strike a hidden rock in uncharted waters, jeopardizing the lives of the crew.

Bad fortune for the Alcyone, but good excitement for viewers of this third segment in Cousteau's new series.

``Cape Horn'' is more like the Cousteau series of old than segments 1 and 2. It concentrates on undersea life, coastline fauna, and crew camaraderie more than on the politics and sociology of the region. There is much footage of underwater creatures jostling for space at the bottom near Tierra del Fuego, colossal shots of ice falls, glaciers, ice fjords, and islands inhabited only by millions of rock-hopper penguins, sea lions, albatrosses, and cormorants.

There are poignant moments in the film, too. Off the coast of Chile, the crew learns that Challenger has exploded. Obviously the Cousteau crew feel a special kinship to the space explorers. ``Common in heart and mortality,'' as Captain Cousteau describes the special bond of ``fellow explorers.'' There is a tender memorial service in a tiny chapel in a small shack at the bottom of the world.

Most of the action in ``Cape Horn'' is underplayed, although on the surface it is very exciting. The men go about their jobs in businesslike ways. The written narration, however, injects gobs of purple prose. For instance, the sailors on a sunken clipper ship that was visited off the coast of Chile did not just drown, ``they disappeared into oneness with the sea they loved.''

The Alcyone visits the Falklands and the island of Horn, as well as Tierra del Fuego and the coast of Chile, where the crew enjoys some cheerful moments with the Chilean navy while the Alcyone is being repaired. Then, before the good captain sails off for other areas (next will be the Sea of Cortez, off Baja California), he observes hundreds of fishing vessels hunting squid, sadly unbalancing the ecology of the region. Captain Cousteau's rediscovery of the world, it seems, involves his rediscovery of the harm that civilization imposes on nature in discovered areas.

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