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Sunday, Dec. 2, 2007

CHANNEL SURF

Big-family sitcom, judo docu-drama, life makeover show

Teru Miyamoto's best-selling novel "Suisei Monogatari (Meteor Story)" (TBS, Monday, 9 p.m.) is brought to the small screen this week in a two-hour adaptation. The book focuses on a very large household containing 13 people and one dog, a beagle named Hook.

The head of this clan is Fukuzo Shirota (Shiro Ito), who built a big house for himself, his son Shintaro and Shintaro's wife, Atsuko, and their four children. However, when Shintaro's business fails, the family is forced to make do with less room after they start letting rooms. Things get even more cramped when Shintaro's sister, Megumi (Michiko Haneda), gets divorced and moves in with her own four kids.

However, the main disruption comes in the form of a Hungarian student (Colin Asanuma) who comes to stay as a result of a promise that Shintaro made to the student's parents. With his elementary Japanese and fear of dogs, not to mention his cultural faux pas, the student sparks more than a few conflicts.

Another Japanese novel getting the TV drama treatment this week is Tsuneo Tomita's classic judo saga "Sugata Sanshiro" (TV Tokyo, Thursday, 9 p.m.), which has been dramatized many times before, most famously in the 1943 Toho film that marked the directing debut of Akira Kurosawa.

Shigeaki Kato of the idol group NEWS plays the title role of a stubborn young man who travels from his hometown in Fukushima Prefecture to Tokyo in order to master the martial art of jujutsu during the early days of the Meiji Restoration. He ends up being one of the first disciples in jujutsu's offshoot called judo.

Most of the drama revolves around Sanshiro's pure intentions and lack of guile, which always seems to land him in hot water.

Losers in love are the subject of "Saikon Shitai Otoko (Men Who Want to Remarry)" (Fuji, Dec. 9, 4:05 p.m.), which focuses on the efforts of three divorced men to overcome their limitations and find new girlfriends.

The three men are assisted in their mental makeovers by three of the most popular onee (effeminate men) talent in Japanese show business — choreographer Kaba-chan, cartoonist Toru Miyazaki, and comedian Midori-chan, who claim to understand the minds of both males and females.

The makeovers involve physical hardship. In order to cure one subject of his shorttemper, he is forced to carry out hard labor in a sugar-cane field. Another, who "lacks courage," is thrown into a "karate match in hell."



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