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Sunday, June 13, 2004

CHANNEL SURF

BBC documentary "How to Be a Prince" on NHK BS-1 and more

If you're stumped by Japan's pension system and ticked off by the fact that you'll now be paying more and receiving less, then you might want to tune in to this week's two-hour "Tuesday Special" (Fuji TV, 7 p.m.), which will explain things about the pension system "that no one has ever told you before." Given that 70 percent of the populace has said it disapproves of the government's recent revisions, it's likely a lot of people have questions, and using a variety-show format with celebrity guests, the special will offer "practical information" that not only unravels the complications, but also illuminates the system's loopholes and contradictions. Among the topics covered are the scandals involving politicians who haven't paid into the system; ways in which individuals can check their own payment history; how to retroactively pay off periods when you neglected to contribute; and a discussion of the fundamental fairness of the system itself.

The popular travel-gourmet show "Ganso Debuya" encourages viewers to succumb to their appetites and has helped full-figured talents get more work on TV, provided they keep the weight on. Nevertheless, while comedian Hidehiko Ishizuka has maintained his roundness throughout the show's run, his partner, dancer Papaya Suzuki, has noticeably slimmed down. Is this indicative of something? Maybe. On this week's show (TV Tokyo; Friday, 9 p.m.) the peripatetic duo take time out from their search for glorious food to form a dance team that will compete in a festival in the Kameido district of Tokyo. Fellow dancer Uganda asks Papaya to help him assemble a dance team. At first Papaya is not interested, but then Uganda tells him that the winners will receive coupons for "all you can eat" restaurants in Kameido. Together they audition plump hoofers for a group to be called Zo (elephant), and it's implied that the group will become a semipermanent fixture on the show.

This month, Britain's Prince William turns 22, which means he will soon leave university and enter the adult world. Though he is in line for the throne, a lot can happen between now and then (after all, his grandmother is still sitting on it), and on Saturday NHK (BS-1, 11 p.m.) will broadcast a BBC documentary, "How to Be a Prince," that will look into the young royal's past and future.

Unfortunately, the prince himself was not available to be interviewed, but the BBC talks to a wide cross-section of experts and interested parties, and assembles an impressive array of footage, some rarely seen, including a video of the late Princess Diana explaining breast-feeding.

Diana, it should be noted, was exceptional for a princess in that she raised her two boys herself. Consequently, William is seen to have a much more grounded personality than his father and is more socialized than previous generations of royals.

The documentary will be shown in bilingual format.



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