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Sunday, Aug. 2, 2009

CHANNEL SURF

Emergency medical drama, whaling in Taiji and Sican civilization special

The fourth season of the popular medical drama, "Kyumei Byoto 24 Ji" ("Lifesaving Ward 24 Hours"; Fuji, Tues., 9 p.m.), which premiered in 1999, was supposed to begin on July 7, but one of the drama's stars, Yosuke Eguchi, who plays a surgeon, was involved in a motorcycle accident just as filming started.

The producers went into overdrive and came up with "directors cuts" combining footage from past series that includes Eguchi with new footage that brings back some favorite guest stars.

This week's kinkyu (emergency) special features Sae (Mao Inoue), who in season 3 repeatedly attempted suicide and thus became familiar to the workers at the Seiwa Daiichi Hospital emergency room. Now, it is Sae who saves the life of a woman who tries to kill herself. She calls an ambulance just in time. At the hospital, Dr. Kaide Kojima (Nanako Matsushima), is happy to see Sae again, and Sae tells her what has been happening in her life since the last time they met.

The International Whaling Commission's meeting in Portugal last June ended, again, without any understanding between Japan and most of the other members, who object to Japan's research whaling policy. This week, NHK starts a four-part series on its weekly documentary show "Rekishi wa Nemuranai" ("History Doesn't Sleep"; NHK-E, Tues., 10:25 p.m.) that looks at how whaling "culture" developed in Japan. It studies the country's "relationship" with the marine mammals on both national and local levels.

In the first part, the program focuses on the whaling town of Taiji in Wakayama Prefecture, which is also the focus of "The Cove," a documentary about the killing and capturing of dolphins that just opened in the United States. Taiji's whaling industry goes back 300 years and was greatly affected by much larger American whaling vessels, which caught all the whales in their coastal waters. Consequently, Taiji whalers had to travel further from shore and in bad weather just to survive, leading to a tragedy the townspeople still talk about.

This week, the world-traveling quiz show "Sekai Fushigi Hakken" ("World's Marvelous Discoveries"; TBS, Sat., 9 p.m.) goes to South America to look at the still mysterious pre-Inca civilization known as Sican (800-1400). Discovered in Peru in the 1970s by Japanese archaeologist Izumi Shimada from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in the U.S., the ruins of the Sican "city of gold" yielded strange, beautiful golden masks and bizarre mummies.

The program explores what it was that made Sican culture unique and its relationship to the nearby and more famous Inca civilization (ca. 1200-1573).



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