Facial gymnastics, interviews with ‘average people; CM of the week: Loto6

As further proof that variety-show producers are getting hard up for subject matter, Tuesday sees the premiere of the regular series “Sono Kao ga Mite Mitai” (“I Want to See That Face”; Fuji TV, 10 p.m.), which is hosted by the comedy duo Ameagari Kesshitai.

The theme of the show is “faces you’ve never seen before.” Guests think of situations and what sort of facial expressions those situations would evince. They then try to re-create those expressions. In addition, they try to reproduce difficult facial expressions from famous scenes in cartoons and movies.

Many of the more unusual prime-time programs started out as series that were broadcast during the wee hours. TV stations are more open to experimental shows when there isn’t much at stake advertising-wise.

One such show moves to prime time this week, though only as a one-time special. “Arita to Matsuko to Otoko to Onna Kindan no Seron Chosa Dai-ni-dan” (“Arita and Matsuko and Men and Women’s Public Opinion Research Part 2”; TBS, Fri., 9 p.m.) features Teppei Arita of the comedy group Cream Stew and cross-dressing straight-talker Matsuko Deluxe interrogating “average people” about their lives and opinions in a forthright manner.

However, “average” might not be the proper term to describe someone who calls himself an “amateur foreigner” or a woman whose job is to be a “reader model,” whatever that is. In any case, Arita and Matsuko will interview 50 such people in an attempt to find out the “true sentiments” of the Japanese public.

CM of the week: Loto6

A good sign that commercial television is getting back to normal after two weeks in steady crisis mode is the return of frivolous advertising, and no advertising is more frivolous than that for the lottery, or takarakuji.

In the latest ad for the Loto6 game, youngest SMAP member Shingo Katori plays host on a talk show whose set looks suspiciously like the one used for the long-running daytime series “Tetsuko no Heya” (“Tetsuko’s Room”). Katori’s two guests are veteran singers Kazuo Funaki and Midori Satsuki. He asks them why they think they were invited to the show together, and they laugh, implying it might have to do with some mutual scandal. “Not at all,” Katori replies. Starting in April, Loto6 is offering two contests a week, one on Monday and one on Thursday.

The two guests look confused, so the host explains: The “tsuki” in Satsuki’s name is the same kanji as that used for Monday, while the “ki” in Funaki’s name is the same character used for Thursday.

“That’s the only reason you asked us here?” Funaki says. “That’s right!” Katori answers. The two guests, clearly offended, stand up and leave.