Reviewing the White House's 'Beazley Christmas' Just in time for the holidays... Barney, George and Laura Bush's Scottish terrier, co-stars in A Very Beazley Christmas, the fourth White House holiday video featuring the first presidential pet and the first featuring Miss Beazley, the new Scottish terrier at the executive mansion. Jonathan Last of The Weekly Standard muses on whether this is must-see sequel, or a total dog.
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Reviewing the White House's 'Beazley Christmas'

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Reviewing the White House's 'Beazley Christmas'

Reviewing the White House's 'Beazley Christmas'

Reviewing the White House's 'Beazley Christmas'

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/5051505/5051506" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Just in time for the holidays... Barney, George and Laura Bush's Scottish terrier, co-stars in A Very Beazley Christmas, the fourth White House holiday video featuring the first presidential pet and the first featuring Miss Beazley, the new Scottish terrier at the executive mansion. Jonathan Last of The Weekly Standard muses on whether this is must-see sequel, or a total dog.

(Soundbite of "Barney Cam IV: A Very Beazley Christmas")

Unidentified Man: It's all about Miss Beazley at the Bush White House this Christmas.

Unidentified Woman #1: And coming up on "Access Hollywood," Miss Beazley has taken Washington by storm.

Unidentified Woman #2: (Foreign language spoken)

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

All right. The rest of us are going to wait for "King Kong," but Washingtonians already have their furry black beast of a movie. It's "Barney Cam IV: A Very Beazley Christmas." Here is The Weekly Standard's online editor Jonathan Last to explain all.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. JONATHAN LAST (The Weekly Standard): The "Barney Cam" franchise began three years ago. It started with a short film posted on whitehouse.gov showing President Bush's Scottish terrier, Barney, frolicking about the White House. Barney chased after fallen Christmas ornaments while the camera, hovering just a few inches above the floor, gave us a sense of what life was like from a dog's-eye view. The inevitable sequels became increasingly lavish. The second "Barney Cam," for instance, featured a real live cast of human beings and Karl Rove, too. In "Barney Cam III," the producers gave Barney a co-star, a sister terrier named Miss Beazley. In the new film, we learn that Barney and Miss Beazley have developed a serious case of sibling rivalry and Barney is losing the support of the public. His poll numbers are in free fall. So Barney consults with Lynne Cheney, the vice president's wife, about how to handle the bad news.

(Soundbite of "Barney Cam IV: A Very Beazley Christmas")

Mrs. LYNNE CHENEY: Ooh, Barney, have you seen the latest presidential pet poll numbers? Not good. Your numbers are way down but don't worry about it. Remember, polls are just a snapshot in time.

Mr. LAST: One has the sense she's given this pep talk before. Mind you, Barney should know better than to trust polls. Remember those tense hours in November of 2004 when it seemed as though the "Barney Cam" series was finished, but when Barney sees a stack of gifts for Miss Beazley under the White House Christmas tree, he snaps. Of course, all's well that ends well. Moved by the Christmas spirit--or, as Mr. and Mrs. Bush say, much to the consternation of Bill O'Reilly, the holiday spirit--Barney and Miss Beazley reconcile.

Yet despite the happy ending, it feels as though the "Barney Cam" series has lost its way. Cameos by administration players have become an unwelcome intrusion into "Barney Cam," but the appearance of the glamorous Nancy O'Dell of "Access Hollywood" seems a bridge too far. And gone is the freewheeling cinema verite steadicam of the earlier "Barney" movies, which has now been replaced mostly by wide-angle master shots. The result is the most beautiful "Barney Cam" yet, but it feels at times like a gilded travelogue, more "A Passage to India" than "The Little Tramp." The filmmakers seem to have forgotten the simple joy of watching a dog scooting along the hardwood floors of the White House. When it comes to "Barney Cam," less is much, much more.

CHADWICK: Jonathan Last is the online editor of The Weekly Standard.

I'm Alex Chadwick. NPR's DAY TO DAY continues.

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