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Sunday, Aug. 15, 2004

CHANNEL SURF

"Tuesday Suspense Theatre" on Nihon TV and more

There's a good possibility you'll be sick of the Olympics by about Wednesday, so if you're looking for alternatives you might want to check out the hospital serial "Shiroi Kyoto (The White Tower)," which is not a rebroadcast of the hugely popular series starring Toshiaki Karasawa and Yosuke Eguchi that ran last spring, but rather the original 1978 TV series that starred the late Jiro Tamiya. Because of the success of the new version, Fuji TV has taken all 31 episodes of the original show and reedited them into 13 hours. They will be shown Aug. 16-22 at 3 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The series is less a melodrama about sick people and their treatment than it is about the politics of the Japanese medical profession. Goro Zaizen (Tamiya), an ambitious doctor, is up for promotion to full professor at Tokyo's most prestigious university hospital, but there are people who will stop at nothing to prevent him from reaching that position. When he makes a grave medical error and attempts to cover it up, his enemies place in motion a malpractice suit, and he is put on trial.

If that sounds too heavy and too time-intensive, this week's "Tuesday Suspense Theatre" offers something that requires much less effort. Chiaki (Yoshiko Tanaka) is a Tokyo housewife who works part-time making lunchbox meals. Her husband, Shigeo, works at a small factory in Arakawa Ward, and they have a 7-year-old son. One day, Chiaki receives an anonymous call from a man who says that Shigeo is having a love affair with a woman named Atsuko and gives her Atsuko's address. Chiaki goes to the address to confront Atsuko, but the other woman makes a counter claim: "I want my husband back." She tells Chiaki that the name of the man she calls Shigeo is really Naoe Takafumi, and that he is married to Atsuko. Reeling, Chiaki realizes that she doesn't know much about her husband's past. Then two men are killed and Shigeo becomes a suspect before Chiaki has a chance to confront him. He becomes a fugitive and isn't seen until Chiaki spots him on TV participating in the Shikoku 88-Temple Pilgrimage.

Swindlers and conmen have been in the news a lot lately, especially practitioners of the so-called "It's me" scam, which involves a person telephoning an elderly person and pretending to be a grandson who is in trouble and begging for money. On this week's problem-solving show, "Nanmon Kaiketsu" ( NHK-G, Thursday, 9:15 p.m.), a large group of people from a neighborhood in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, discuss how residents can avoid being victims of such scams, which are becoming more sophisticated (conmen impersonating policemen, lawyers, etc.). Different swindles, including bogus door-to-door salespeople, are discussed and methods for determining a caller's legitimacy are exchanged.



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