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Sunday, Oct. 13, 2002


Dear old dads star in series, specials

Fathers of all shapes and sizes are the stars of this week's lineup of drama specials and new series. "Otosan (Father)," premieres Oct. 13 at 9 p.m. on the TBS network.

The new series marks actor Masakazu Tamura's almost complete evolution from romantic lead to comic paterfamilias, a changeover that was assisted by his long-running appearance in a DoCoMo CM series in which he played the father of a large extended family.

Tamura's character, Shiro, is the widower father of four beautiful daughters, whom he has raised entirely on his own. He owns and operates a respected soba restaurant and is famous for belittling customers who can't properly appreciate the subtle wonders of his creations.

The four-daughters theme allows the producers to pack as many up-to-the-minute idols into one program as they can, and the casting crew really earned their commissions on this one. The oldest and only married daughter is played by former CM queen Naoko Iijima. The second daughter, who works in the restaurant with her father, is played by current CM queen Miki Nakatani.

Super-idol Ryoko Hirosue, who made her international film debut last winter in the Luc Besson production, "Wasabi," is the third daughter, a nurse. And the baby of the bunch, a college student, is played by Kyoko Fukuda, who seems to be gracing every magazine cover at the moment.

Two predictable plot developments set the series in motion in the opening episode: The oldest daughter moves back home and Shiro announces that he wants to marry again.

Beat Takeshi is cast as a father of a completely different stripe in a new two-hour TV adaptation of mystery writer Seicho Matsumoto's classic suspense story, "Kichiku (Brute)" (Nippon TV, Oct. 15, 9:03 p.m.). The story was also the basis for a famous 1978 theatrical film starring Ken Ogata.

Takeshi plays Yasuo, who runs a printing factory in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, that he inherited from his father. He and his wife, Harue (Hitomi Kuroki), a former bank employee, have no children, a matter they don't discuss.

One day, a woman named Masayo (Shigeru Muroi) comes to Yasuo's factory with three young children in tow. She is the owner of a bar and has been Yasuo's mistress for almost 10 years. Yasuo, in fact, has been supporting her in part, but he stopped paying a year ago.

Masayo says that the children are Yasuo's, a revelation that naturally shocks Harue. Things become even more complicated when she reveals that Yasuo has legally acknowledged the children.

Masayo then disappears, leaving Yasuo to care for the children alone (Harue wants nothing to do with them), but the youngest child, who is only 10 months old, dies accidentally. Yasuo goes in search of Masayo to tell her and discovers she is now living with a younger man.

Yasuo begins to suspect that the children may not, in fact, be his and decides to kill them. The two surviving children, who have so far been passive participants in the drama, suddenly take a more active role.

Paternal responsibility is the theme of TBS' utterly implausible new drama series, "Yan-Papa (Young Father)" (Wednesday, 10 p.m.). Tomoya Nagase, the tall heartthrob of boy band Tokio, plays a young man who takes over the fatherly chores in a household that doesn't want anything to do with him.

In the opening episode, which aired Oct. 9, 25-year-old Yusaku (Nagase) was about to marry Yu, a famous manga artist to whom he was apprenticed. However, Yu had three children by a previous marriage, all of them resented her relationship with the much younger Yusaku and disapproved of the coming wedding. In fact, the three kids also disliked Yu, since she was always busy at work: They were raised by her older sister.

After having already registered their union at the local municipal office, Yu, on the morning of the wedding, also changes the beneficiary in her life insurance policy to Yusaku. Then, on the way to the ceremony, she is killed in an accident.

After coming across Yu's sketches for a planned new manga series, Yusaku realizes that she wanted to use the marriage as a means of making a new life, one in which her children would be at the center. He decides that he must fulfill her legacy and, to the shock of the three smartass kids and their aunt, moves into their lives as head of the household. The oldest daughter, horrified, tries to sell the house.

Masatoshi Nakamura returns as a rebellious private eye in "Oyaji Tantei 2 (Dad Detective 2)" (TV Asahi, Thursday, 8 p.m.). Combining all father-daughter sitcom cliches with cop show cliches, the series is mainly centered on the spiky relationship between Nakamura and Kumiko Endo, who plays Rei, his daughter.

The usual generational conflicts are exacerbated by the fact that Rei now works as an investigator for the Kyoto Police Bureau, where Nakamura used to work before his "lone wolf" style of police work continually got him into hot water.

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