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Sunday, May 11, 2008

CHANNEL SURF

Home-interaction game show, retail documentary, school-age drama

The last thing we need is yet another quiz show featuring comedians proving how smart or dumb they are, but "The Quiz Man" (TV Asahi, Tuesday, 7 p.m.) promises something quite different. The difference has nothing to do with the content.

Studio contestants are divided into a men's team and a women's team, and the questions themselves are said to be "useful for everyday life."

For instance, how can you tell if bean sprouts are fresh? What's the easiest way to peel a clove of garlic? Where is the safest place to put a microwave oven?

Since the questions are all multiple choice, contestants have at least a one-in-three chance of getting a right answer, but that isn't what's different about the show, either. What's different is that viewers at home can play.

If you have a TV set with a digital tuner, you can send your own answers to the show. You can even win prizes.

In fact, you don't have to be at home. If your cell phone has the one-seg TV function, you can participate wherever you are.

S uperstores of the Walmart and Carrefour type are common in North America and Europe, but they've been less successful in Japan. An exception is the A-Z Super Center in the city of Akune, Kagoshima Prefecture.

Akune's population is only about 25,000, and it's shrinking year by year, so it hardly seems like the sort of community that could support a retailer with 16,500 sq. meters of floor space. But it receives around 6 million customers a year.

The program "Document Nippon no Genba" (Document Japan's Sites; NHK-G, Saturday, 10:25 p.m.) set up some cameras at A-Z and recorded people coming and going over a period of 24 hours.

The store is located in the middle of nowhere, but since the Akune city center has no fast-food businesses or game arcades, lots of young people make the trip just to hang out. Old people take advantage of a special shuttle bus. It's more than just a big supermarket. It's a way of life.

J apan's favorite animated elementary school student, "Chibi Maruko-chan" (Fuji, Sunday, 6 p.m.), has finally decided she wants a dog. In the episode that airs May 18, Maruko sees a poster on a street post for free puppies, and begs her mother to let her have one. Naturally, her mother is against it, even though Maruko's sister pleads for the same and Grandpa Tomozo thinks having a pet is not such a bad idea.

So mom makes a deal with Maruko. If she goes to bed early every night and gets up early the next morning to help regularly with the household chores, then she can have a dog.



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