Don't say neigh to Animal Planet horse tale

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Men can be beasts, and sometimes only a critter's love can return us to our humanity. This simple theme has animated dozens of movies over the years. And it returns with the 2003 cable movie "Big Spender" (7 p.m., Animal Planet). Casper Van Dien ("Starship Troopers," "Titans") stars as Eddie Burton, an improbably handsome small-time criminal who has spent much of his life behind bars. Life changes for Eddie when he's assigned to a prison work detail job at a horse farm. There, he catches the attention of the farm's stern ranch hand, Jake (Graham Greene), who puts him in charge of Big Spender, an abandoned and abused thoroughbred.

A subplot about a custody battle over Eddie's estranged son and the arrival of Big Spender's pretty jockey round out this tale of man-meets-horse. The basic cable network clearly put some money on the screen for "Big Spender." The acting and the production values of the film are a vast improvement over earlier Animal Planet movies.

Tonight's other highlights

Series notes

Dating woes on "8 Simple Rules" (7 p.m., ABC) ... A look back on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (7 p.m., UPN).

Time travel on "The Twilight Zone" (8 p.m., UPN) ... Clark's new girlfriend seems to know the secrets of his past on "Smallville" (8 p.m., WB).

Amy doles out tough justice to a child victim on "Judging Amy" (9 p.m., CBS) ... George Hamilton is host of "The Family" (9 p.m., ABC).

Late night

John Travolta and D4 appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Chris Rock, Hilary Swank and Sean Paul on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).