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Sunday, May 9, 2004


"Nanmon Kaiketsu" on NHK and more

The word motodoru refers to female celebrities who were "idols" in their youth. However, it also means "getting value for one's money," and is usually associated with housewives.

Both meanings are implicit in the title of the new variety show "Roman! Motodoru Sannin Musume" (TV Tokyo, Monday, 7 p.m.), which stars three former idols who explore the wonderful world of consumption.

Ikue Sakakibara is happily married with two children. Mami Yamase still lives "the honeymoon life" with her husband, and loves cooking. Miyuki Imori, a notorious spendthrift, remains unhitched, but hopeful.

Each program includes three regular segments. In one, the happy trio go out of the studio to do "social research." In another, they conduct a survey about a trivial household phenomenon. And in the last segment, they experiment with a new product to decide what should be its true value.

On this week's show, the former idols go to Jiyugaoka to visit a museum of sweets, analyze a survey on how many times the average Japanese household serves curry every month, and looks at a new "fully automatic" vacuum cleaner that apparently moves all by itself. The special guest is superstar flower arranger Shogo Kariyazaki.

Two-hour drama specials are always mysteries, but this week's "Wednesday Premiere" (TBS, 9 p.m.), bucks the trend with a straightforward melodrama about two middle-aged women.

In "Daitokai no Onnatachi: Shinjuku-hen (Big City Women: Shinjuku Edition)," veteran actress Etsuko Ichihara plays Yoko, who runs a street stall in Shinjuku from which she sells lottery tickets. She becomes close to another older woman named Michiyo (Ineko Arima), who works at a pachinko exchange booth. Both women live alone and sometimes visit each other's apartments.

Yoko, it turns out, ran away from her college professor husband and two children years ago during a love affair. Michiyo also abandoned her family. Now, on the threshold of old age, each woman must come to terms with her past; in Yoko's case, the relationship with her husband, who is now living in a nursing home, and her son, who has never forgiven her; in Michiyo's case, her relationship with her sister, whose funeral she attends reluctantly.

This week, NHK's regular problem-solving variety show, "Nanmon Kaiketsu" (NHK-G, Thursday, 9:15 p.m.), looks once again at the issue of crows in Tokyo.

Last year, the show covered the same problem, and a community in Suginami came up with a solution for protecting garbage stations from "the selfishness of crows."

However, in the meantime, it appears that the solution -- a strong, closely knit net that is thrown over the garbage -- did not work. Those dastardly birds found a way to break through it.

Now the Suginami residents solicit solutions from other areas of Japan.

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