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A woman’s investigative intuition; the family funeral business; CM of the week: Softbank

Last year, Nippon TV beat perennial winner Fuji TV in the drama ratings competition, and starts 2012 with a show that’s already attracting attention. “Dirty Mama” (Wed., 10 p.m.) is a police drama whose principal cop combines the slovenliness of Colombo with the extra-legal tactics of Dirty Harry.

Policewoman Akane (Karina) is working traffic when she is suddenly promoted to criminal investigations, which has been her dream. However, the bulk of her job is babysitting the infant son of her supervisor, single mother Takako (Hiromi Nagasaku), also the department’s ace detective.

In episode 1, Takako and Akane started looking into a case involving a woman, Sachiyo (Naomi Nishida), who also has an infant son. In episode 2, Takako, who sympathizes with Sachiyo, finds a letter that may help her case.

Popular idol Tomohisa Yamashita stars in “Saiko no Jinsei Owari-kata” (“The Best Way to End Living”; TBS, Thurs., 9 p.m.) as Masato, a young man who works in the head office of a national restaurant chain. Masato doesn’t communicate much with his family because he doesn’t like the family business, a funeral home. However, his own job is highly stressful, since all the outlets under his supervision have to meet sales quotas. When one of his managers kills himself from overwork, he reassesses his priorities.

This week, in episode 2, Masato decides to take over the family business after his father dies. His first job is to prepare an unidentified body for cremation, and he recognizes the “John Doe” as someone he once interviewed for a job at the restaurant chain.

CM of the week

SoftBank: Japan’s upstart mobile communications provider has a New Year’s tradition: A special limited-time TV commercial featuring all five members of SMAP. This year there are two based on catch copy that equates “effort” with “enjoyment” using the SoftBank “=” logo.

In one of the spots, as the theme from “Twin Peaks” plays on the soundtrack, each SMAP member, dressed in a dark business suit, is seen in an immaculately lit office reading the contents of a letter espousing the spirit of the catch copy: True happiness comes from difficulty. In a second spot, all five members are seen running as fast as they can through a business district at night. Presumably, they are enjoying themselves.