Picks and Pans Review: Primetime/japan

updated 06/06/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/06/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

PBS (Fri., June 3, 9 p.m. ET)


Foreign TV fascinates me. You can learn more about France from one of its TV shows—or better yet, commercials—than you can from any of its sauces. That's why my favorite time for TV watching—after L.A. Lawday and Newhartnight—is Sunday, when my cable system shows Japanese TV, all untranslated, unsubtitled and incomprehensible but riveting. On one Japanese talk show, the guests all drink from a bottle of booze; the longer the show, the more they drink and the more fun they have (there's a trick that might have saved the Wil Shriner Show). Now here is Harry (Night Court) Anderson showing us clips from 39 other Japanese shows, with translations. There's a science show in which live houseflies are glued to little tiny airplanes that then fly. There's a yank-your-heart-out-and-stomp-on-it melodrama. There are embarrassingly silly game shows and spectacular commercials. Best of all, there's a movie-of-the-week about a teen boy and girl whose genders get mixed up. The boy in the girl's body grabs his/her own breast in terrified amazement, then looks down his/her pants and shouts, "It's gone!" Isn't foreign TV wonderful?

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