Mar 15, 2009

Watching "The Office" in Japan

I think it's time to cover an important topic concerning my time here. Something you are all dying to know but are too ashamed to ask: 

Namely, what's the T.V. situation in Japan?

I'll admit, this is something I was rather embarrassed to ask about before we came. I wanted to know if I'd be able to watch "The Office" over here, but I tried to play it cool like this wasn't a huge priority in my life. (Which it is. How else am I supposed to get the laundry folded?)

At the very least, I figured I'd be able to watch most things on-line.   Turns out this is a little complicated.  But let's start with the basics...

Here's how we click over here: 

On base, we have something called AFN. I thought it stood for Air Force Network, but it's Armed Forces Network. This tells me all branches of the military are getting the same thing.  (I haven't bothered to check this, though.)

AFN is comprised of a handful of different channels: AFN News, Sports, Kids, Family, etc. Each channel shows programs from multiple networks. For example, AFN News shows some CNN programs and some Fox News programs. AFN Kids shows some PBS cartoons and some Nickelodeon cartoons, etc. etc. It's just a random sampling of different programming from different networks on every channel.

The big differences are these;
#1 No commercial commercials. There ARE commercials, but they're all produced by AFN and they're not peddling a product. There are Patriotic commercials, commercials dealing with Military Life, "Hometown Spotlights" giving facts and info about different state capitals, warnings about drunk driving/gambling/domestic violence/excessive debt/etc., commercials encouraging you to get off the base/be a good ambassador/respect the local culture/support the local community/etc., and commercials that are specific to our base.

#2 The popular shows they do show (The Office is one of them) are played at random times (like 7 p.m.!?!  The kids are still up!  Or 9:30.  Who starts CSI at 9:30?!?!) and they don't start when the regular season starts. Usually it's a few weeks or months after the show has aired in the states.

#3 In addition to AFN, we get Navy Movie Channels. These three channels show movies non-stop all day, every day. The problem is, there is no way to know what the movie is once it's started, and more importantly, they're not edited. So if you stumble upon an old movie you've always wanted to see and you're excited because you assume it's been edited for television, prepare to have some graphic nekkidness burned into your unsuspecting retinas. (*bleh!*)  I pretty much avoid the Navy Movie Channels.

and #4 Aside from AFN and NMC, we get "local" channels as well. And I use local very loosely. We get channels from Japan (obviously) Korea, China and Australia, just to name a few. Some of the programs are in English, some are dubbed, and some are just amusing to watch even without having a clue what they're saying! (I got pretty engrossed in a Japanese Soap the other night while waiting for Doug to come watch a movie with me.)

SO!  What happens if you can't start your favorite show at 7:00p.m. or you don't want to wait an extra month for "The Office" to begin?  Well, you turn to the Internet.  And find out that many TV websites limit their viewing to Internet Users in the U.S.    WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?  Yes, that's right.  Many websites for America networks can't be viewed by overseas IP addresses.  (i.e. CBS and USA)

Luckily, there are some websites that do allow you to watch some of your favorite shows for free: is the best of them.  (Although for CBS shows it redirects you back to CBS and you're out-of-luck.  Again.)  (Good article about Hulu in a recent Newsweek.)   

Anyway, that's the TV scoop.  Most of the shows Doug and I watch, we watch on Hulu at our leisure.  Usually around 9:00p.m. while we eat popcorn and fold laundry.  (Our favorites are:  The Office, 30 Rock, Lie to Me, Psych, Burn Notice, and NCIS) 

Well, I hope that answered your burning questions!!!  

I leave you now with the Japanese version of The Office.  


P.S.  FYI, If I were living off base, this post would be totally moot.  I don't think they get AFN off base, and I think they have even less Internet access to on-line viewing.


Carina said...

Thank you for dealing with a Very Important Topic.

Katie said...

Isn't the Japanese Office Brilliant? I love it. For the record, in Tokyo we have cable so we get CNN International, Discovery, History Channel, National Geo, and some random others...we watch Office, Lost etc on the computer and the Daily Show on comedy central website...Then we have a bazzillion Japanese channels including 3 golf channels, 3 anime channels and MTV Japan which blows my mind daily.

Unknown said...

That is too funny...but I totally understand the 'entertainment in order to fold thelaundry' thing! :) Glad you got the office though!! :)
love ya Em

Lucy said...

You can get AFN off base. You just have to sign away your first born son to get the converter. And I don't mean it's expensive, but rather that they don't want nationals to have access to it, because all their programming is made available to them for the use of military personnel only.

I really miss those cheesy AFN ads.

Michelle Glauser said...

I'm jealous. I'm not getting any Office in Germany . . .