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Sunday, Jan. 27, 2008

CHANNEL SURF

Extreme and odd sports, teacher drama, real-life childbirth drama

One of the longest-running game shows on Japanese TV is "Tokyo Friend Park" (TBS, Monday, 6:55 p.m.), where veteran announcer Hiroshi Sekiguchi sets a team of celebrities unusual physical challenges.

This week's team is made up of four members of "Hoshino Japan," the national baseball squad made up of professionals who will compete in next summer's Olympic games.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka of the Chiba Lotte Marines is so confident of his abilities that he tells Sekiguchi he will quit baseball if he cannot reach the highest level of the "Wall Crash" challenge, in which contestants wearing velcro-augmented jumpsuits bounce off a minitrampoline and try to affix themselves as high as possible onto a specially treated wall. The players also adapt their batting skills to "Chuchu Busters," a variant of the arcade game "Whack-a-Mole" in which they strike at mechanical mice that pop up out of holes at random. Hiroyuki Kobayashi, also of Lotte, is criticized for a swing that is "too wide," and Koji Uehara of the Yomiuri Giants becomes noticeably angry when he is booed by the audience.

In the new drama series "Mirai Koshi Meguru (Future Teacher Meguru)" (Asahi, Friday, 11:15 p.m.), Kyoko Fukuda plays the title character, an English instructor at a cram school who is forced to support her family after her debt-ridden father disappears.

Meguru has a strange condition. Whenever she eats too much, she has visions of what the future holds for those in her presence. One day, while eating barbecued beef, she realizes that her boyfriend, Yuki, will become bald and fat 20 years down the line. She becomes discouraged with the idea that she may end up living her life with Yuki, especially after attending a party with some former classmates who she finds will turn into very handsome men.

The documentary special, "Life is Beautiful: Inochi ga Oshiete Kureru Koto (What Life Teaches)" (Fuji, Feb. 3, 4:05 p.m.), presents two stories about young people facing life-and-death decisions.

The first story focuses on a young Ukrainian couple who were babies when the Chernobyl nuclear accident happened in the 1980s. These two people have gotten married and want to have children, but they are concerned as to whether or not the radiation they received when they were very young will affect their unborn child.

In the second story, a 25-year-old Filipino woman is also getting ready to give birth to a child. The father is a Japanese man who has left her, and she is determined to raise the child herself. However, there are complications.



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