Sunday, February 18, 2018
TV and Media

Jon Stewart returns to 'Daily Show'

He left us in really good hands.

That may be the first conclusion one can make about the summertime hiatus Daily Show host Jon Stewart took this year, allowing time for him to direct his first film, Rosewater.

Stewart returns to the show at 11 tonight, presumably refreshed creatively, retaking a nightly program ably guest hosted by writer/correspondent John Oliver. The brash Brit did so well, in fact, that some fans — not me — have been calling for Oliver to stay in the chair.

But as much as I dug Oliver's frenetic energy and the nightly fictional updates on what Stewart was up to (the bit about him being on a Rumspringa, complete with digitally added Amish beard on a roller coaster, was my favorite gag), it's time for the master to return.

And here's a quick list of stuff I think we learned during his summer vacation.

Lesson 1: More correspondent stuff from the field. Much as I love the jokes from behind the desk or when they use green screens to put Samantha Bee in the middle of the rush to cover the royal baby, the Daily Show really sings when it uses real-life political absurdities to point out just how messed up our system really is. Bee and fellow correspondent Jessica Williams getting focus groups of black and white people to talk about race; Aasif Mandvi challenging Florida Gov. Rick Scott to pee in a cup over the state's drug testing of welfare recipients; Jason Jones examining the government's absurd fight over raisin production equal comedy gold. And would it be possible to get old man Stewart out on really special stories? Even Brian Williams gets out of the studio occasionally.

Lesson 2: John Oliver needs an expanded role. Oliver, who also writes for the show, often seemed the show's ace, even before his stellar co-hosting gig this summer. Here's hoping the show uses him more often as a guest host, perhaps on Fridays to avoid reruns or on weeks when the show might normally go dark, giving us more Daily Show overall. I'm sure Stewart and the producers are wary of watering down the show by doing too many episodes. But Oliver-hosted editions could give the program a chance to try new, more radical ideas and serve as a farm team for new writers, correspondents and material.

Lesson 3: The Daily Show is a finely tuned machine, so use it. One reason Oliver was able to step in so seamlessly for Stewart was because the material never seemed to waver. The writers kept serving up amazing jokes and scenarios for Oliver to knock out of the park, even while their big boss was away. So perhaps that can allow the show to give some other correspondents a chance to shine, too. Bee has been on the program for a decade; what would a Bee-hosted Daily Show look like? What if alums like Steve Carell, Ed Helms or Wyatt Cenac came back to guest host for a night or a week? If Stewart would like more time to pursue other creative outlets, perhaps the show could develop a farm team of guest hosts in the way Johnny Carson did; that stable of Tonight Show fill-ins gave us David Letterman, Jay Leno, Garry Shandling and Joan Rivers, by the way. Imagine who might step up if the Daily Show revived that tradition?

Lesson 4: Stewart's voice is sorely needed. It's been a shame that the Daily Show was on break over the past two weeks, as America kind of lost its mind over racial issues and crime, the anniversary of the March on Washington, slaughter of civilians in Syria, the debut of an American version of the Arabic news channel Al Jazeera and Miley Cyrus twerking her way into the country's heart.

Can't wait to see what the big man makes of it all when he takes back the big chair.

Comments

Sunday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYAutosDaytona 5003 p.m.Fox; 102.5-FMBowlingPBA: 60th Anniversary Challenge1 p.m.ESPNCollege basketballWomen: USF at UCFnoonCBSSN; 1040-AMWomen: Wake Forest at N.C. StatenoonESPNUWomen: Miami at Virginia12:30 p.m.Fox SunDuke at Clemson1 p.m.Ch. 44...
Published: 02/17/18

Saturday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYAutosXfinity: PowerShares QQQ 300 qualifying9:30 a.m.FS1Xfinity: PowerShares QQQ 3002:30 p.m.FS1College baseballIllinois-Chicago vs. Southern3:30 p.m.MLBAlabama State vs. New Orleans7 p.m.MLBCollege basketballSMU at UCF11 a.m.ESPNUSyracuse at Mi...
Published: 02/16/18
What to watch this weekend: ‘Everything Sucks!’ on Netflix, ‘Wreck-It-Ralph,’ ‘Star Trek’

What to watch this weekend: ‘Everything Sucks!’ on Netflix, ‘Wreck-It-Ralph,’ ‘Star Trek’

1996 MISFITS: EVERYTHING SUCKSAdd this one to your list if you were alive in the 1990s. Even if you weren't in high school, it's sure to bring back memories of Fruitopia, Oasis, flannel shirts and Alanis Morissette. Everything Sucks is a quirky comin...
Published: 02/16/18
Disney World announces June opening date for Toy Story Land

Disney World announces June opening date for Toy Story Land

Get ready for a playdate with Andy's toys. Disney World just announced the opening date for Toy Story Land. The area in Disney's Hollywood Studios is set to open June 30, just in time for the busy summer season, The Orlando park announced Friday on ...
Published: 02/16/18
Angela Bassett gives a shoutout to her hometown of St. Petersburg on her new show ‘9-1-1’

Angela Bassett gives a shoutout to her hometown of St. Petersburg on her new show ‘9-1-1’

It's hard to keep up with St. Petersburg native Angela Bassett. She plays the queen of Wakanda and mother of the titular hero in probably the biggest movie of the year, Black Panther, which hits theaters this weekend, and is also promoting the upcomi...
Published: 02/15/18

Thursday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYAutosMonster Energy Cup: Can-Am Duel7 p.m.FS1College basketballWomen: S. Illinois at UT-Martin5 p.m.ESPNUWomen: Purdue at Maryland6 p.m.Big TenWomen: Alabama at Tennessee6:30 p.m.SECPurdue at Wisconsin7 p.m.ESPNTemple at Wichita State7 p.m.ESPN2...
Published: 02/15/18
What if ‘Seinfeld’ was back on TV? 'It's possible,' teases Jerry Seinfeld

What if ‘Seinfeld’ was back on TV? 'It's possible,' teases Jerry Seinfeld

What if Seinfeld was back on TV in 2018 with new episodes and not reruns? What would it be like? Would Jerry get an iPad? Would Elaine use Tinder? “It’s possible,” responded Jerry Seinfeld to a question about a Seinfeld revival po...
Published: 02/14/18
Review: ‘Everything Sucks!’ pits A/V club freaks against drama club geeks in 1996-set teen drama

Review: ‘Everything Sucks!’ pits A/V club freaks against drama club geeks in 1996-set teen drama

Netflix's new series Everything Sucks!, well, doesn't.The nostalgic dramedy is set in 1996 and follows two groups of misfit teens as they navigate the awkward, the hormonal and the downright dull aspects of life in suburban Boring, Ore.It sounds a lo...
Published: 02/14/18

Wednesday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballUSF at UCF6 p.m.ESPNews; 820-AMIowa at Michigan6:30 p.m.Big TenClemson at Florida State7 p.m.Fox Sun; 1010-AMVirginia Tech at Duke7 p.m.ESPN2Kansas State at Oklahoma State7 p.m.ESPNUMississippi State at Vanderbilt7 p.m.SECVilla...
Published: 02/13/18
Chris Rock's first stand-up special in 10 years comes out this week

Chris Rock's first stand-up special in 10 years comes out this week

After a long stint away, Chris Rock is coming home.On Wednesday, one decade after his last stand-up special, Kill the Messenger, Rock, one of the most acclaimed stand-up comics alive, will release a new Netflix production, shot at the Brooklyn Academ...
Published: 02/13/18