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Sunday, Nov. 26, 2006

Channel surf

On Monday night at 9 p.m., TBS presents yet another made-for-TV mystery starring aging female actresses. However, "Rikon-zuma Tantei" adds an interesting twist to the formula.

As the title so clearly indicates, the "private eyes" in this drama are "divorcees." In fact, Hana (Kaoru Sugita), Yuri (Ayako Sawada) and Mizuki (Akiko Hinagata) all decided to form their detective agency because their husbands all cheated on them, and they wanted to help other women in the same situation.

One day a woman named Mikako (Sayuri Kokusho) comes in for a consultation. She says that her husband's attitude and way of talking has suddenly changed as of late. He seems unusually tight with money and when she asks him for household expenses he says that things aren't going well at work. The women investigate and find that the husband is lying when he says he's going golfing. Instead he visits a woman.

Mikako decides to divorce the two-timer, but just as she's getting ready to lower the boom, her husband's girlfriend turns up murdered.

For a while, the popular magician Princess Tenko was doing quite well on the variety show circuit discussing her occasional forays to North Korea, where she would reportedly entertain Kim Jong Il, who was fond of her act . . . and other things.

Apparently, she's beaten that dead horse enough, and now has to fall back on magic . . . and other things.

Many of Tenko's stories about her times in Pyongyang had to be taken with a grain of salt, and she has other "legends" that have been challenged by skeptics.

This week, the variety show "Gokujo no Tsukiyo" (Ultimate Moon Night; Nihon TV, Monday, 10:15 p.m.) offers Princess Tenko a stage to show off her latest illusions, but the main purpose of the show seems to be to find out what's happening in her private life.

For instance, was she really presented with an oil well by some admiring royalty? Was she really engaged to that big Hollywood star, supposedly Jean-Claude Van Damme (well, big as far as muscles go), and did they together reserve a space on a flight to outer space that was estimated to cost 2.4 billion yen? And does she really own 50 houses all over the world? Tune in to find out.

This week, NHK's documentary series "The Professional" (NHK-G, Thursday, 10 p.m.) profiles Yukie Mokuo, who has been working for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) for the last five years in the organization's Tajikistan office.

Mokuo is mainly in charge of providing vaccinations and preventing the spread of HIV infections through educational programs.

The documentary follows the young woman as she works and negotiates with central government officials and local authorities, offering a rare look at the everyday business of aid work.

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