Now that Ive had some time to actually think about this, it seems to me that Jon Stewarts rebound from his fairly weak start was something of a considered rebellion. All along, we heard that Stewart wasnt going to do what previous hosts such as Chris Rock and David Letterman had done, which was shoehorn their sensibility into the Oscarcast, one reason being their efforts werent considered successful.
And, indeed, Stewart initially did the opposite he inserted himself into the spectacle of the Oscar ceremony. There was that fairly lamentable opening short film, in which previous hosts for various reasons eschew the job, followed by lowly Jon Stewart getting the gig and the chance to lounge in a bed with George Clooney and Halle Berry, besides. His opening monologue was hit-and-miss, with the bigger laughs coming from material that in fact wouldnt have been out of place on The Daily Show.?
So Im guessing that hes a quick learn, and figured out that whatever he would do for the rest of the broadcast would have to represent more his acerbic sensibility and less the sort of institutional once-over-lightly that defines most Oscar programs. After all, Stewart has built his reputation for puncturing self-important windbags, not coddling them.
Which I think accounts for how he conducted himself thereafter. There was an interesting friction between the ceremonys dreary same old same-old montages, trying too hard on the production numbers, etc. and his responses to it. He had wittily cutting comments about the montages that had been lovingly massaged by the shows producers: I cant wait til later,? he said after a particularly pointless one, when we get Hollywoods salute to montages.? He poked fun at the fairly pretentious production of the performance of Best Song nominee In the Deep.? He was just sharper as the show went along, so whereas the personal approach was what torpedoed Letterman and Rock, it was what rescued Stewart in the end.
ABCs post-game show crew is giving Stewart high marks, too a B+, to be precise but, hey, whats ABC going to say? We were idiots to hire him?