"Tenko" is back.
Remember that unfortunate group of British women whose escape ship from Singapore was torpedoed out from under them by the Japanese back at the end of 1941?
Remember, too, that we left them after 10 episodes in a wretched tropical Japanese prison camp somewhere on one of the Southeast Asian islands that had been taken by the Japanese from the Dutch early in the war.
Well, after leaving this ragged little group in limbo -- actually between prison camps -- for about a year WETA (Channel 26) has managed to acquire the last 20 episodes, which, beginning tonight at 10 and airing on successive Mondays, will carry the women through the end of the war and beyond.
"Tenko" is splendid television. Beautiful shots of tropical islands and palm trees contrast, almost indifferently, with prison camp conditions that give squalor a new meaning.
Character and character development are "Tenko's" principal attributes. The prison camp becomes a microcosm of the human condition. Subtly, sometimes not so subtly, captors and captives are changed, so that by the end of the war, the survivors' return to old lives becomes as much a challenge as life in the camp.
Remember that the British party had been escaping by ship from Singapore, waiting until the last possible moment when the fall of the British-run city finally appeared inevitable even to their disbelieving business-as-usual selves.
The word "Tenko" describes the drop-everything roll call thae women knhe year in which they have been held.
But the plot of "Tenko" is not extraordinarily dlains, of course, beup of more or less helpless women. But they are portrayed as neither bad nor good, only human.
And althougheroic under the most adverse conditions, they are products of their own cultures. Marion Jefferson,dysentery,ison.
* Each episode has its own central drama.
This first of the new series involves the weeks-long trek across the jungle, marked by a last-ditch stand by the Dter Ulrica wins her The child is buried and only afterward does Marion Jefferson discover a Star of David among her effects.
Be warned: If you watch tonight you'll be hooked.