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Monday, December 17, 1990 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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John Voorhees

`Sex In The Soviet Union' Examines A Society's Changes

``At first glance, ``Sex in the Soviet Union'' seems like it belongs on ``Inside Edition'' or one of those sleazeball syndicated magazine shows, rather than something as well thought of as ``The Koppel Report.'' But we've learned to trust Ted Koppel. ``Sex in the Soviet Union,'' which airs at 10 p.m. Wednesday on KOMO-TV, is a provocative report, not only in the way you might think.

Oh, sure, Ted gets and holds your attention with a bit of nudity in the first segment (some of which he has to censor for American TV), but he's using what's happening with sex in the Soviet Union as a kind of metaphor for a lot that's going on there.

Koppel reminds us that the U.S.S.R. is ``a nation in turmoil'' - and that description is as applicable to sexual activities as to economics or politics.

One of the many Soviet citizens Koppel interviews compares what's happening to today's youth in the Soviet Union to what happened in the American sexual revolution of the 1960s. But ``Sex in the Soviet Union'' is a lot more interesting than that, especially as it relates to the women Koppell interviewed, nearly all of whom are more articulate, thoughtful and insightful than the men.

Living conditions, condoms, divorce, abortion, prostitution, gays and AIDS - they've all become a part of Soviet life today. The real value of this hour is that Koppel relates these things to everything else that's happening in the Soviet Union, either as symptoms or results. It adds up to one of the most interesting reports yet to come out of this ``nation in turmoil.''

Hard-hitting: NBC's new ``Lifestories'' series unfortunately never earned a large audience and, come January, it will disappear. Although it was as good as any medical series around, viewers seem to prefer continuing characters with whom they can identify and ``Lifestories,'' while dramatizing medical stories, treated each episode individually.

None of them has been better than ``Steve Burdick,'' the episode NBC is airing at the special time of 10 p.m. tomnorrow on KING-TV. It's about AIDS and the central character is a news anchor, well-played by D.W. Moffett. Steve is gay and successfully keeps his private and public lives separate until his lover dies of AIDS and Steve discovers he has the virus as well. As Steve begins to show symptoms, he and the station battle over whether he should continue to be a presence on the station's newscasts.

Richard Gollance's script looks at a number of aspects of the AIDS problem, exploring a variety of attitudes about it. The program never pulls any punches in its examination of those attitudes, whether from Steve's point of view or from the public's responses. It's as honest an exploration of AIDS as anything seen on commercial network TV.

Christmaswatch: KTZZ-TV airs the animated ``Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus'' at 6:30 tonight. . . . NBC repeats ``Mickey's Christmas Carol'' at 8 tonight on KING-TV. . . . KCPQ-TV airs a Christmas-theme movie, ``It Nearly Wasn't Christmas,'' at 8 tonight. . . . NBC airs a new Christmas movie, ``A Mom for Christmas,'' starring Olivia Newton-John (who sings two new songs in the movie) at 9 tonight on KING-TV. . . . Cable's A&E channel airs ``Ceremony of Carols'' tomorrow at 6 and 10. . . . Cable's Disney Channel airs ``John Denver and the Muppets: Christmas Together'' at 8 p.m. tomorrow. . . . KTZZ-TV airs a particularly good Christmas movie, 1977's ``Sunshine Christmas'' at 9 p.m. tomorrow. . . . Cable's Disney Channel airs ``The Stingiest Man in Town'' at 6 p.m. Wednesday. . . . CBS repeats ``Frosty the Snowman'' at 8 p.m. Wednesday on KIRO-TV, the same time KCPQ-TV airs the 1945 movie, ``Christmas in Connecticut.'' . . . CBS repeats ``A Charlie Brown Christmas'' at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday on KIRO-TV, the same time PBS airs ``Lincoln Center Christmas Gala,'' starring Frederica von Stade and the Vienna Boys Choir on KCTS-TV. . . . NBC airs ``Christmas in Washington,'' starring Aretha Franklin and Barbara Hendricks, at 10 p.m. Wednesday on KING-TV. . . . Cable's Disney Channel repeats ``The Judy Garland Christmas Concert'' at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday. . . . KCTS-TV airs ``St. Olaf Christmas'' concert at 11 p.m. Wednesday.

Video notes: KCTS-TV repeats the outstanding special, ``Amazing Grace,'' in which Bill Moyers traces the roots of the hymn, starting at 7 tonight. . . . More great music when KCTS-TV repeats last week's PBS winner, ``Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman Sing Spirituals,'' at 9 tonight. . . . Cable's WTBS-TV repeats the Audubon special ``Wildfire,'' at 10:30 tonight.

John Voorhees' column appears Sunday, Monday and Thursday in The Times.

Copyright (c) 1990 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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