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Sunday, Aug. 1, 2010


Prison documentary and drama; CM of the week: Pfizer

Japan's prison system receives in-depth treatment on the documentary variety series "Arayuru Sekai wo Kengaku Se Yo!" (Inspect the World From Every Angle; Fuji TV, Sat., 11:35 p.m.) The whole point of prison is to isolate inmates from normal everyday life, but as the program shows, prison itself is normal everyday life.

Even if the prisoners themselves don't appear much in the report, cameras get up close and personal with the accouterments of prison life. We see the cells in detail. The cafeteria, the bathrooms and even the furniture are examined.

More significant is the work area, where prisoners learn valuable skills that can command good pay outside. Some prisons, in fact, make quite a tidy income from the labor of their charges.

Prison is also the starting point for the first installment of "Nikkan Kyodo Dorama Tereshinema" (Japan-Korea Joint Drama Telecinema; Aug. 8, 11:30 p.m.), a series of collaborative dramas that feature Korean actors in scripts by Japanese writers.

The two-part "Rakuen" (Paradise; Part Two will air Aug. 15) was written by Yoshikazu Okada. A young woman (Kim Haneul) has just been released from prison. She boards a train and sees a poster for a resort island that promises the "last paradise on Earth." Intrigued, she decides to go there. Before boarding the ferry, she buys all new clothes, determined to forget the past and start life anew. She removes the money she received from the prison authorities and throws away the envelope. But the envelope is picked up by a man who happens to live on the island.

CM of the week

Pfizer: Veteran actor Hiroshi Tachi announced months ago that he was going to quit smoking. He even called a press conference. Pharmaceutical company Pfizer recruited him to be its spokesperson for a new nicotine-free treatment for quitters.

None of the commercials actually mention this treatment. Instead, they imply that physicians should be consulted when one decides to kick the habit. In one spot, Tachi shows up nervously in a clinic waiting room and the receptionist asks him to give her his national insurance card. He doesn't seem to understand, the point being that one can use national insurance to quit smoking.

In a different CM, Tachi consults his doctor for the first time and is asked what he thinks he needs to quit. "A fighting spirit?" Tachi answers timidly. The doctor replies that he will have to abandon that attitude before he starts.

According to the Pfizer Web site, Tachi seems to be making excellent progress, so it's a little strange to change channels and suddenly see him also plugging Kirin's new beerlike beverage Honkaku.

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