If you just ignore the cynical thesis of "The Rhinemann Exchange" - that American businessmen would deal with Nazis in World War II to avoid a congressional investigation - the NBC miniseries that debuts tonight at 9 on Channel 4 with a two-hour episode is superior spy entertainment.

The story, full of the more satisfying cliches of the genre, and backed by excellent production values for a TV series, races right along.

The introduction of its complex story line, in fact, belongs in a textbook on script writing. The five-hour program, which concludes March 24, is based on Robert Ludlum's best-selling novel.

Stephen Collins plays David Spaulding, playboy son of an internationally famous concert pianist. The day World War II breaks out, he is recruited off a Connecticut polo field by Army Intelligence on learning that dad and an old girl friend have been killed in Warsaw by the invading Germans.

After establishing himself as a ruthless, if sometimes slow, operative in Spain, Spaulding is called back to handle the transfer in Buenos Aires, of German plans for a gyroscope in exchange for what he thinks is to be cash.

Actually, its for industrial diamonds, supplied by scotch-drinking U.S. industrialists whose own faulty gyroscopes are wrecking the Allied bombing effort.

But Army Intelligence has been breached by someone (the Gestapo?), a U.S. General is in on the deceit and Spaulding's old girl friend (Lauren Hutton) may be a spy herself.

How will it all end? Satisfactorily, if you don't expect to stand up and salute something or somebody. Spy heroes went that-a-way a long time ago.