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Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008


TV tributes to an artificial heart innovator, Picasso and Sadaharu Oh

The subject of this week's edition of "Professional: Shigoto no Ryugi" ("The Professionals") (NHK-G, Tuesday, 10 p.m.) is 56-year-old Chisato Nojiri, the leader of a special-project team that recently developed a new type of artificial heart.

Nojiri's work has suddenly attracted the attention of the world medical community now that the European Union has approved the heart's use in member countries.

Nojiri's accomplishment is also news in Japan, where heart disease is the second most common cause of death and heart transplants are still almost nonexistent. An artificial heart is not meant to be a permanent replacement. It is rather a makeshift measure until a suitable heart can be located for transplant.

The new artificial heart uses a special magnetic system that solves one of the most serious problems associated with artificial hearts in the past: blood clots. Nojiri talks about her background as a heart surgeon and why she quit to devote all her time to developing the artificial heart.

Despite its clever title, Beat Takeshi's art-oriented variety show "Dare demo Picasso" ("Anybody Can Be Picasso") (TV Tokyo, Friday, 10 p.m.) has never actually covered Pablo Picasso in its seven years on the air; that is, not until this week.

More specifically, the program will look at the seven women whom the wily Spanish painter lived with during his life (though not necessarily at the same time) and who acted as his muses and, often, collaborators. Picasso is arguably the greatest artist of the 20th century, and the show will dramatize a number of anecdotes to illustrate how the women in his life helped him realize some of his most important ideas. For instance, one of his lovers got him to give up Cubism for Neo-Classicism, and almost all of them can be found lurking in the works themselves.

Another giant of the 20th century, baseball star Sadaharu Oh, is the subject of NHK's sports documentary series "Sports Tairiku" ("Sports Continent") (BS1, Saturday, 11:10 p.m.). Two years ago, the legendary slugger underwent surgery to remove cancerous portions of his stomach, after which he resumed his duties as manager of the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.

Though the program covers his 50-year career in baseball and his own unique approach to the sport, most of it addresses his 14 years with the Hawks. That career recently came to an end when he announced his retirement due to health reasons.

Oh started the 2008 season with the understanding that it would be his last, and while his fans understood this decision, they still can't imagine Japanese baseball without him. In interviews, they express their wish that he would hang on for at least another year.

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