Brief updates from TV including ''One Life to Live,'' ''Seinfeld,'' and ''Masterpiece Theatre''

By Benjamin SvetkeyMark Harris and Barbara O'Dair
Updated July 17, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT

Eye-dentical Twins
ABC’S daytime soap One Life to Live hasn’t introduced any dancing dwarves or damn fine cups of coffee yet, but the influence of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks has made its way into One Life‘s scripts in a serires of plot twists that viewers of both shows will find eerily familiar. The daytime soap’s fun began with a murder-mystery informally labeled ”Who killed Michael Grande?,” in which the show’s resident bad guy met a grisly end, leaving a bevy of suspects. After six weeks, the suspense reached a climax we know we’ve seen somewhere before, in which a hysterical woman has a vision, and a clue is seen glimmering in the eyeball of the murder victim (on Peaks, the reflrection was of a motorcycle, while One Life revealed a man in hospital garb). Mere coincidence, or the sincerest form of flattery? A hint came early in the One Life investigation, when the police commissioner was told, ”You’re beginning to sound just like Agent Cooper.”

Hard Sell
Just when you thought it was safe to turn on the TV comes announcement of the ultimate commercial: a major new campaign to make viewers aware of…advertising. The slogan — ”Recognize it for what it does. It helps make America work” — was created by the American Advertising Federation. AAF president Howard Bell says the campaign is meant to combat negative stereotypes of the ad biz, but in a prepared statement he admitted it won’t be easy: ”Even members of our own industry frequently have an inferiority complex about our profession.”

When PBS’ Masterpiece Theatre begins its 21st season in September, viewers won’t see many of the multi-part extravaganzas for which the series is famous. British television hasn’t been producing The Jewel in the Crown-size dramas lately, so the series is turning to shorter stories. They will include two-hour adaptations of Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop (with Michael Maloney) and Elizabeth Bowen’s novel Heat of the Day (starring Michael York, Michael Gambon, and Peggy Ashcroft) and The Ginger Tree, a four-hour drama about a pre-World War II love affair between a Scottish woman and a Japanese general.

Write an Ad, Save a Tree
Eco-minded commercials were in full bloom at the 1990 Clio Awards for excellence in advertising, held in New York on June 18. Winning TV spots included an ad for the Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society and an antidevelopment, pro-rain forest pitch for Banco do Brasil called ”The Bleeding Tree.” But there were moments when conservation conversation seemed a little strained. One of the evening’s hosts encouraged those in the marketing-industry crowd to consider themselves environmentalists because ”we have tried to enhance the environment of TV.” Yes, well…

NBC’s B Team
When programming chief Brandon Tartikoff announced NBC’s 1990 Fall schedule, he declined to name potential replacement series, claiming it would shift the spotlight from his September shows. Despite that, NBC’s midseason lineup is beginning to take shape: Network executives looked at the impressive ratings for just two weeks of the summer comedy Seinfeld (starring Jerry Seinfeld) and decided to order 13 more episodes for next season, and the Judith Ivey comedy Down Home is also going back into production. Another series possibility is the long-planned revival of the Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows, which just missed making NBC’s fall schedule but remains a strong contender for a slot later in the season.

The Greening of Red Square
It’s capitalist propaganda at its most decadent — and it’s coming to Soviet television this fall. Adam Smith’s Money World, the weekly PBS series devoted to the accumulation of wealth, will be shown (and translated) throughout the Soviet Union this September, thanks to a broadcast agreement between New York’s WNET and the Soviet Central Television Network. ”This is absolutely amazing,” says George Goodman (a.k.a. Adam Smith, the show’s host for 25 years). ”Adam Smith has come to the land of Karl Marx. This shows how fast at least some things are moving in the Soviet Union.”