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Sunday, Feb. 19, 2006

CHANNEL SURF

Tale of love and hatred in NTV's 'Drama Complex,' TV Asahi's "Ai no Apron" and more

On Tuesday, NTV's weekly "Drama Complex" series will air a two-hour presentation of master mystery writer Seicho Matsumoto's "Yubi (Finger)" at 9 p.m., a tale of love and hatred played out among an insular group of women.

Mari Hoshino plays TV wide-show reporter Kaori Suzuki, who one day secretly witnesses popular young actress Yumiko (Maki Goto) callously dispose of her pet's dead body on the street. A director at the TV station where she works tells Kaori about Yumiko's mysterious past, and the reporter decides to try and find out more. She looks at videotapes of past interviews and reports concerning Yumiko and learns of a mysterious older woman named Tsuneko (Hisako Manda), who headed the theatrical company where Yumiko got her start in acting. She soon discovers that the relationship between Tsuneko and Yumiko is much more than that of mentor and acolyte.


Ai no Apron ("Love's Apron") (TV Asahi, Wednesday, 7 p.m.), the variety show where female tarento demonstrate their culinary skills for a panel of discerning male tarento, usually sticks to nubile young women as the objects of ridicule. However, this week, the featured cooks are two older women whose celebrity profiles are based on their status as wives and mothers.

At one point Sachiyo Nomura, wife of baseball legend Katsuya Nomura, was the busiest woman on TV, much in-demand for her caustic comments on everything under the sun. Then she fell from favor after a tax scandal. She and her husband will attempt a bit of career rehab by attempting to make a meal centered on anglerfish.

Sachiyo will be competing with Setsuko Izumi, who is the equally loud-mouthed mother of kyogen star Izumi Motoya.


Pigs aren't just for eating any more. This week, TV Tokyo's popular and innovative contest show, "TV Champion" (Thursday, 7:30 p.m.) will present a two-hour special, "Mini-buta Shitsuke-O Senshuken," which translates loosely as "Competition for the King of Miniature Pig Trainers."

Miniature pigs enjoyed a small spike in popularity some years ago owing to the success of the movie "Babe," and apparently some have managed to survive the soup stock as pets. However, as the program implies, the cute little critters aren't that easy to discipline.

Three minipig owner/trainers will compete for the title with their pets, who will be put through five different tests, including a triathlon involving running, swimming, and "shooting," whatever that means. Apparently, minipigs can be quite willful and these three seem particularly spoiled, so the fun is in watching their owners coax them into doing things they wouldn't normally do, like . . . taking soccer penalty kicks.



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