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Sunday, Oct. 25, 2009


Hard-working kids documentary, tales from teen mothers and housewife-volleyball sitcom

This week, NHK's BS1 channel will present in bilingual format a series of overseas documentaries that show "children working hard" for their families and communities.

On Tuesday at 12:10 a.m., there will be a British documentary called "Watashi no Papa wa 140 kilogram" (My Dad is 140 Kilograms), centering on 15-year-old Emma, who suffers from an eating disorder. Emma only eats one meal a day, if, in fact, she eats anything at all. Already painfully thin, she has lost 6 kg in the last year, and her health is seriously in jeopardy.

A counselor looks into Emma's life and background and discovers the reason for the girl's fear of food. Her father weighs 140 kg, thus making him clinically obese. Emma is basically reacting against her father's own eating disorder.

While Emma's mother and boyfriend try to help Emma get her weight up, Emma in turn tries to help her father lose some of his own weight. The premise of the new variety show "The Ichioku-bun no Hachi," (The 8/100,000,000; TBS, Wed., 10 p.m.) is exploring a theme-of-the-week by interviewing in quiz-show fashion eight individuals who have personal experiences related to the theme.

The hosts are comedian Masatoshi Hamada and idol Miki Fujimoto, whose job is to draw astonishing anecdotes out of the guests. This week, the guests are eight women who gave birth when they were still teenagers. The oldest is now 21.

The young women reveal how they met their eventual husbands; how they "became pregnant"; how much money they spend every month on themselves and their families; and how they prevent their husbands from cheating with other women. NHK's new series, "Mama-san Bare de Tsukamaete" (Grab It All With Mama Volleyball; NHK, Nov. 1, 11 p.m.), borrows a page from American situation comedies by taping each episode in front of a live studio audience of 100 people. What's more, the show is presented without edits.

The program, based on an idea by cutting edge scriptwriter Masafumi Nishida, is about a community volleyball team sponsored by a local supermarket and made up of housewives whose 28-year-old coach, Kotaro (Osamu Mukai), is married to one of the players, 40-year-old Suzuko (Hitomi Kuroki), though no one on the team is aware of the fact. Most of the comedy, in fact, is derived from the couple's efforts to keep their union a secret.

In the first episode, Suzuko mistakenly leaves a DVD of her wedding in the club room where the team practices. She and Kotaro go the club room to try and find the DVD, but they are hampered in their search by the club's neurotic security guard (Kotaro Shiga), who is afraid of standing watch all by himself.

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