TV's digital future gets 1 year closer
The Yomiuri Shimbun
What do legendary warriors and homicidal baseball stars have in common? They're both about to be beamed into your home via high-resolution digital television broadcasts as part of this season's New Year's programming.
If your household isn't one of the growing number capable of receiving digital broadcasts, fear not: The newest crop of shows will be broadcast in the conventional analog format as well. But that format is scheduled to end in Japan in July 2011.
Meanwhile, broadcasters have been widening the variety of Hi-Vision digital programs in their lineups to promote terrestrial digital broadcasting.
TBS, for example, says it has produced all of its dramas in the Hi-Vision format for the year-end and New Year's weeks. The broadcaster's offerings include a 2-1/2-hour special of Sannen B-gumi Kimpachi Sensei (Dec. 30, 9 p.m.), the follow-up to the seventh season of the long-running show of the same title that ended in March. They also include K-1 Premium 2005 (Dec. 31, 9 p.m.), an annual mixed-style martial arts fight festival.
However, the highlight of the TBS holiday lineup may be a two-night period drama, Satomi Hakkenden (Jan. 2-3, 9 p.m.-11:24 p.m.) produced to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first TBS broadcast.
The fictional story with strong fantasy elements is based on Nanso Satomi Hakkenden (The Eight Dog Chronicles), a 106-volume literary opus by Takizawa Bakin (1767-1848). The story features eight warriors, each one of whom has been given a jewel representing one of eight virtues: benevolence, righteousness, courtesy, wisdom, loyalty, faith, filial piety and fraternity.
The popular tale has been adapted into an NHK puppet play and also into both animated and live-action movies, but it has never appeared as a live action TV drama. Satomi Hakkenden includes many action scenes featuring aerial wire action and computer graphics.
The leading role of Inuzuka Shino Moritaka, or Shino, is played by Hideaki Takizawa
, who played another leading role this year in NHK's yearlong period saga, Yoshitsune.
"It was tough for me to maintain my concentration when I had to concurrently play the leading roles for two separate period dramas," Takizawa
said in a recent interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun. "In a riding scene [for Satomi Hakkenden], I fell off the horse, but I really enjoyed playing in the battle scenes with swords."
The costumes for the show were designed by Oscar-winning designer Emi Wada. Shooting locations included Inner Mongolia, China.
Sanae Suzuki, producer of the drama, said: "I'm sure this spectacular show will be seen as a 'neo period drama' that breaks the mold of conventional period dramas. I hope viewers will enjoy the exciting action scenes and the eventful story shot in high-resolution images as well the show's star-studded cast."
Among Fuji Television's Hi-Vision shows are Ooku Special, from the popular drama series focusing on women of the inner palace of the Tokugawa shogunate (Dec. 30, 9 p.m.); Pride Otoko Matsuri 2005 (Dec. 31, 9 p.m.); Count Down TV Year-Crossing Live Special (Dec. 31, 11:50 p.m.) and the three-night Furuhata Ninzaburo Final (Jan. 3-5, 9 p.m.).
In the second night's episode of Furuhata, major league baseball player Ichiro Suzuki, who has described himself as a big fan of the series, plays himself in a cameo role written for him--as a murderer. In the show, he confronts a formidable detective played by Masakazu Tamura.
An official of the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said in an interview with The Daily Yomiuri, "We hope this [year-end/New Year's] period will be a good occasion for people to fully enjoy the high quality of digital broadcasting."
(Dec. 29, 2005)http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/features/arts/...229TDY11001.htm