A single mother’s ‘big family'; profile of Toyota’s founder; CM of the week: Hyoketsu Strong

Each of the major networks have at least one “big family” they follow in fly-on-the-wall fashion over a period of years to yield two specials per annum. With their reality-show veneer of the joys and sorrows of raising a lot of kids, these shows are guaranteed ratings monsters.

TBS is taking a chance with “Gekito Daikazoku” (“Intense Struggle, Big Family”; Tues., 7 p.m.), which introduces a 34-year-old woman in Kyoto Prefecture raising eight children. It’s the first time a TV “big family” is headed by a single mother, who in this case had her first baby when she was 17. She’s been married and divorced three times.

If viewers like it, then she could become a superstar in her own right, though the “big families” usually have to remain nominally impoverished for the sake of dramatic interest.

Actor Koichi Sato will be appearing on TBS-affiliated variety shows often this week to plug his two-night drama “Leaders” (March 22 and 23, 9 p.m.), which is about the man who started Toyota Motors, Kiichiro Toyoda, so no prize if you guess who the sponsor of the drama is.

For some reason, they decided to fictionalize the story slightly by renaming Toyoda Saiichiro Aichi and his company Aichi Motors. In part one, prior to World War II, Saiichiro manufactures automatic looms, but he is obsessed with making a car specifically for the Japanese market. In part two, his new automobile company is in serious financial trouble, and he asks the local branch of the Bank of Japan for help. The branch manager (Teruyuki Kagawa) takes his plea straight to the bank’s governor (Nakamura Hashinosuke).

CM of the Week

Kirin Beer: With the upcoming consumption tax hike, alcoholic beverage makers have been thinking up ways to offset the negative effect on their sales, and have come up with a novel solution: Instead of reducing the price, increase the alcohol content.

Commercials for Kirin’s 9 percent alcohol version of its already potent chuhai (shochu and flavored soda), Hyoketsu Strong, feature actor Shota Matsuda sliding through a curtain of water in slow motion. The catch copy is “wash you,” thus implying that the drink is brisk and clean, but those qualities could also apply to the buzz. It’s the morning after you have to worry about.

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