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Sunday, Oct. 19, 2003

Channel surf

This week, TV Asahi's popular house-remodeling variety show, "Daikaizo Gekiteki Before/After" (Oct. 19, 7:58 p.m.), wanders slightly off its worn path of families stuffed into superannuated rabbit hutches. The "customer" is a 73-year-old woman who lives alone in a two-story house with only 41 sq. meters of floor space to move around in. That's probably enough room for one person, but the woman in question is planning to get married -- for the first time in her life.

Her fiance, in fact, was her boyfriend a long time ago, but they hadn't seen in each other in 30 years before reuniting recently and deciding to marry.

The woman architect who is remodeling her house is thus not required to make a living space that accommodates different generations and their needs. The customer wants a "honeymoon cottage," a place where she and her new mate can live romantically until they die.

The main problem is not so much the lack of space as the fact that the house is built on a gradient, and thus incorporates several terracelike levels. The architect decides that, since it's only the two of them, who needs walls?

Veteran actor Yutaka Mizutani, who starred in the popular "avant-garde" detective series, "Kizudara-kei no Tenshi (The Scab-covered Angel)," back in the '70s, re-enters the crime genre on the new series "Aibo (Partners)" (TV Asahi, Wed., 9 p.m.). He plays Detective Ukyo, who is partnered with Kaoru (Yasufumi Terawaki) in a kind of comic odd-couple combination.

On this week's episode, the two police detectives are investigating the murder of a muckraking reporter. Though the evidence is slim, Ukyo eventually tracks down a small factory owner who was once a member of a violent leftist student faction. Kaoru comes up with the theory that the reporter found out something about the factory owner's architect son, who committed suicide. He thinks the owner killed the reporter in revenge. But then, the son's friend, another architect, turns up dead as well.

TV Tokyo's nightly business news report, "World Business Satellite," which is affiliated with the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, has been credited with coining the term "bubble" to describe Japan's economic boom period in the late 1980s. The series premiered in 1988, and on Oct. 24 it will mark its 4,000th broadcast with a special two-hour installment starting at 10 p.m.

The program will feature a round-table discussion live from New York City on the subject of the meaning of capitalism in the 21st century. Among the participants are a former finance minister, a prominent University of Tokyo economics professor, and Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Steiglitz.

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