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Drama about women ex-cons; comedians’ managers tell all; CM of the week: Alsok

TBS offers a rare look at the lives of female ex-cons in the eighth episode of occasional drama series, “Joshi Keimusho Higashi Sangoto” (“Women’s Prison East Number 3 Block”; Mon., 9 p.m.).

Three prisoners at a women’s prison that doubles as a textile factory are called into the warden’s office and told they have been approved for parole. Hanae (Pinko Izumi), Mao (Chikako Kaku) and Chiharu (Aki Nishihara) are moved to a prerelease facility until the time comes for them to be released.

Hanae, who learned how to operate a forklift while she was incarcerated, gets a job at a storage facility. Mao is hired as a hostess at a high-class Ginza bar by the owner, who happens to be an old acquaintance. Chiharu moves in with her parents and is unable to find work.

The drama shows how society continues to punish the three women even after they have paid their debt to society.

Some time ago, Japanese TV comedy hit a postmodern period. Comedians no longer tell jokes on variety shows, but explain what it’s like to be a comedian in today’s showbiz world. In a three-hour installment, the variety show “London Hearts 2010″ (TV Asahi, Tues., 7 p.m.) takes this idea to its extreme.

The program conducted a survey among 100 managers of famous comedians, asking them intimate questions about the stars they work for as well as the ones they don’t. Twenty-nine comedians are in the studio listening to the results of the survey and discussing the subsequent rankings. Who is the worst comedian on television? Who is the most difficult to work with?

Some of the comedians get worked up about the comments from the managers, who run their lives and have the power to promote or ruin their careers.

CM of the week

Alsok: Two-time Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler Saori Yoshida stands next to a security guard in full uniform in front of a school. She salutes and says, “Start Alsok exercises.” A song with a clear, simple rhythm plays on the soundtrack, with words outlining in even simpler form the “home security” plans offered by Alsok. Yoshida and three security guards, joined by schoolchildren, families and, in one case, a burglar who obviously can’t resist the catchy melody, perform rajio taiso (radio exercise) style moves in unison.

Since 2007, Alsok has used Olympic judo and wrestling stars to advertise their private alarm and patrol business. The athletes’ artless effect on screen conveys the affordability of the various plans for the average homeowner, thus contrasting with ad campaigns from rival security provider Secom, which uses superstar Takuya Kimura, an obviously much wealthier homeowner.