Inside The White House


December 12, 2008|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,

There is no lush adaptation of Charles Dickens, no first- or even second-rate thrillers this weekend. But there is a holiday treat for the family, and the unlikely TV Santa is C-SPAN.

Sunday night, the channel kicks off a "White House Week" with a two-hour documentary about 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Six nights follow with one-hour programs on various aspects of the site.

Only a rough cut of Sunday's film was available for preview, but it's enough to see that the film is a winner. The starring role belongs to the long, slow shots of the rooms most Americans have only heard about. They provide a real sense of famous spaces like the Red Room, Lincoln Bedroom and private quarters. Viewers are given plenty of time to stare - bravo to the producers for that wise decision.

The one detail worth quibbling about is the narrator, who delivers information with a reverence that gives you flashbacks to fifth-grade civics class.

Well, speaking of quibbles, I do have another. The credits say the program was produced "with the assistance from First Lady Laura Bush." The Bushes are all over the film. Republicans dominate the White House story in this telling. I wonder how different the emphasis might be if this program was made four years from now. (9 p.m. Sunday, C-SPAN) *** 1/2

LATE-NIGHT GUESTS Actress Meryl Streep visits the Late Show with David Letterman. Actor Jamie Foxx visits The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

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