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Sunday, Feb. 6, 2005

CHANNEL SURF

"Matthew's Best Hit TV" and "Shojiki Shindoi" gets joint special on TV Asahi and more

Next month will mark the 10th anniversary of the sarin gas attacks carried out by Aum Supreme Truth cult on a Tokyo subway during the morning rush hour. On Tuesday, NHK's documentary series "Project X" (NHK-G, 9:15 p.m.) will take a detailed look back at the medical-emergency measures implemented immediately after the attack.

More than 3,000 people were taken to various emergency rooms throughout the city, but the largest number went to St. Luke's International Hospital in Tsukiji. The head physician at the time, Shigeaki Hinohara, ordered all doctors to quit what they were doing and concentrate on treating the victims. Nobody knew what kind of poison had been released, and so the emergency treatment was for the most part improvised.

The documentary recreates the chaotic scenes of that fateful morning and recounts the dramas that unfolded and the heroic efforts of doctors.

Two of the dumber late-night comedy shows on Japanese TV are "Matthew's Best Hit TV," starring the effeminate "Hollywood star" Matthew Minami (comedian Takeshi Fujii in a blond wig), and "Shojiki Shindoi (Honestly difficult)," starring Tsuyoshi Domoto, the bird's nest-haired half of the idol duo Kinki Kids. On Wednesday at 11:15 p.m. on TV Asahi, the shows will be combined in a special 90-minute program featuring both stars.

The ostensible reason for the show is to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the singing debut of the widely worshipped idol Seiko Matsuda. Matsuda isn't scheduled to appear on the show, but Matthew likes nothing better than to impersonate her. The show will mostly follow the format of Domoto's, which is shot at several locations. Among the places the two clowns will do their comedy bits is a love hotel, and a 100 yen shop, which Matthew claims never to have visited.

One of the more successful new variety shows is "Sekai-ichi Uketai Jugyo (The World's Most Desired Lessons)," which brings together seemingly ignorant celebrities and unusual educators who impart academic lessons in enjoyable and unusual ways. On Saturday, the program will be expanded to two hours for a special (Nihon TV, 7 p.m.).

Among the teachers who will show off their knowledge is Shunichi Karasawa, the acknowledged "king of trivia," who usually appears rattling off lists of weird and wonderful factoids. This time, however, he will teach a formal lesson in social studies.

Also on the show is Denjiro Yonemura, a science teacher and writer who is famous for his clever experiments; Jin Akiyama, Japan's beloved hippie mathematician; Takashi Saito, a Meiji University language professor; and Hideho Kindaichi, a former Yale instructor who comes from a long line of respected linguists.



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