TV | CHANNEL SURF

Sekai Shogeki Story; Chimpanzee Ai ga Oshiete Kureta; Aoki

by Philip Brasor

Unidentified flying objects are a topic of great concern to people who have too much time on their hands. A retired sheriff from Colorado who has spent the past 25 years looking into UFOs is the subject of a report on the variety show “Sekai Shogeki Story” (“The World’s Shocking Stories”; TV Tokyo, Wed., 9 p.m.).

A TV crew follows him to Chicago, where he interviews a pilot and a mechanic who say they saw a flying saucer hover soundlessly above O’Hare Airport several years ago. There’s even a clear photo of the object. The show also investigates a UFO sighting that was accompanied by other strange phenomena in a Peruvian village.

In addition, the program discusses a bizarre incident that happened in Mexico, where 300 goats were found dead one morning, all the blood drained from their bodies. Experts say no wild animal could have done that.

There are many ways to define a human being, and one is to compare ourselves to other animals. In the NHK special “Chimpanzee Ai ga Oshiete Kureta” (“What Ai the Chimpanzee Teaches Us”; NHK-G, Thu., 2 p.m.), Dr. Tetsuro Matsuzawa of the Kyoto University Primate Research Center, the man who taught a chimpanzee named Ai to use language, explains 30 years of study into how humans and chimps branched off from a common evolutionary tree millions of years ago.

The focus of this study is to distinguish evolutionary events that happened suddenly from those that were more gradual. Along the way, evolutionary biologists have come around to the conclusion that cultural skills, such as using tools and language, are not exclusive to Homo sapiens. Moreover, chimpanzees demonstrate another trait once considered completely human: empathy for others.

CM of the week

Aoki Actor Tori Matsuzaka, dressed in a dark business suit, returns to his smartly appointed apartment, presumably after a long day of work, though the sun is still shining through his fashionably leaded windows. He tosses his briefcase on the couch, removes his tie and socks, and promptly jumps into a bathtub already full of water. The voiceover informs us that clothing retailer Aoki sells “real” washable suits, and Matsuzaka’s unorthodox action drives home how easy they are to look after. We also see a young woman in a suit taking a shower. Apparel for the very busy. Or the very lazy.