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Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009

CHANNEL SURF

A journey to Venice, eco-friendly toilets and special police drama

Vienna has always held a special fascination for the Japanese, who celebrate the New Year with Strauss waltzes and lieder as much as they do with mochi (rice cakes) and otoshidama (New Year gift money). A prime influence in this regard is the 1931 German movie "Der Kongress Tanzt" (Congress Dances), a lush musical that for the Japanese has defined Viennese culture to this day.

The movie was obviously the inspiration for the title of the two-hour TBS travel special "Geijutsu ga Odoru Miyako Wien" (Vienna, the Capital Where Art Dances; Tues., 7:55 p.m.). Actors Yoshino Kimura and Masaya Kikawada explore what the show's producers call "the most comfortable city in the world."

Kimura takes the high end and spends a good deal of time at the State Opera, where she talks to music director Seiji Ozawa and singer Eijiro Kai. Kikawada gets down with the Austrian people, visiting an open-air market and enjoying homemade treats and local delicacies. Yoshino Kimura pops up again later in the week to host the business-related dramatization series "Rubicon no Ketsudan" (The Rubicon Decision; TV Tokyo, Thurs., 10 p.m.). This week's program addresses conservation and ecological concerns by focusing on the development of a household item everyone can appreciate: the toilet bowl.

A number of major Japanese manufacturers are intent on producing a technologically advanced and environmentally friendly toilet bowl. Panasonic entered the field relatively late, and is trying to come up with a product that isn't made of ceramic materials.

Toto, one of the world leaders in the toilet bowl market, is mostly thinking of ways to reduce water consumption. At present, the company is working on a model that only uses 5.5 liters per flush, which is apparently the smallest amount used by any toilet bowl anywhere. NHK finally enters the lucrative action- packed suspense drama sweepstakes with "Sotogoto Keisatsu" (The External Police; NHK-G, Sat., 9 p.m.), a six-part series that starts this week.

A special unit of Japan's Public Security Police, which works outside the main police administration in an underground capacity "hunting down spies," is alerted by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency that a cell of an international terrorist group called Fish is hiding out somewhere in Japan. The CIA believes that the cell may be planning an attack.

Agent Sumimoto (Atsuro Watabe) and his female assistant Hina (Machiko Ono) trail a mysterious diplomat who they think has some link to the terrorist group. They follow him to a meeting with a man named Tanimura (Tomoro Taguchi), whose company manufactures explosives detection equipment.



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