Picks and Pans Review: Portrait of the Soviet Union

updated 03/21/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/21/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

TBS (Sun., March 20, 9 p.m. ET)


The photography is gorgeous. As a work of video art and as a travelogue, Ted Turner's seven-hour series about the Soviet Union is a success. But as a documentary it is at times a whitewash. The cameras show us a magnificent domed church as narrator Roy Scheider's voice says, "Atheist though the state may be, freedom to worship as you please is enshrined in the Soviet constitution, and there is a degree of religious tolerance." Tell that to refugees in Tel Aviv. The narration also puts ridiculous generalizations and twinkieisms in Scheider's mouth: "Russians love their children.... Siberia is a state of mind." In its first few hours, the series looks as sophisticated and cynical as a high school yearbook. But those pictures are gorgeous. If you can turn off your ears (and brain) and keep your eyes open at the right moments, you'll come away with a pretty view of the land.

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