You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Jon Stewart Show

Guests: Ethan Hawke, Jennie Garth, Public Enemy.

Cast:
Host: Jon Stewart; announcer, Howard Feller.

Guests: Ethan Hawke, Jennie Garth, Public Enemy.

Former MTV talkshow host Jon Stewart moves onto broadcast airwaves with a relatively smart, witty program produced and distributed by Paramount in hopes of capturing at least some of Arsenio Hall’s old audience. Based on the first two episodes, show’s a potential winner that’s hampered in some markets (including L.A.) by a deadly timeslot. David Letterman doesn’t need to worry; Jay Leno might.

Dressed in his usual uniform of T-shirt and jeans (sweat shirt on Tuesday), and working on a set that looks like the officer’s lounge on the “Alien” spaceship, Stewart otherwise followed talkshow conventions, opening with a monologue, making small talk with celeb guests, and occasionally chatting with announcer/sidekick Howard Feller.

Feller, a holdover from Stewart’s MTV half-hour, is so loose he makes Conan O’Brien’s sidekick, Andy Richter, look like a prig; if “Seinfeld’s” Kramer got a talkshow gig, this is what it would look like. There’s no band other than any musical guests; theme, bumpers and other music is prerecorded.

Prefab talkshow bits worked well, for instance Stewart’s suggestion for an early Suzanne Somers show topic: “Guys who live with two women but pretend they’re gay to fool the landlord.” Another seg featured sound f/x added to spice up C-Span, including funny shot of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) mouthing to Peggy Lee’s recording of “Fever.”

Stewart aims for narrower demographic than his competition does, and — unlike virtually any other nighttime (or soon-to-be nighttime) talkshow host, he evidently reads his producers’ pre-interviews and, as with rap group Public Enemy, acts as though he’s familiar with their work.

He had trouble pulling anything coherent out of Ethan Hawke, ostensibly plugging his New York-based Malaparte theater troupe without telling much about it; even where it’s located.

Jennie Garth, of “Beverly Hills, 90210,” proved somewhat more eloquent, though intellectual level of show didn’t approach some of Dennis Miller’s old series or Conan O’Brien’s author segs.

Tuesday night’s show featured Jean-Claude Van Damme plugging his new pic, comparatively witty and articulate Laura San Giacomo, and performance by Mount Rushmore, personified by Johnny Cash.

Stewart handled the interviews well enough but — like O’Brien — gives the impression that he’s a lot smarter than he lets on.

If nothing else, it confirmed a prime axiom of TV comedy: if a pretaped bit doesn’t go anywhere, don’t use it. With luck, Stewart and his staff will quickly learn and profit from such rules.

The Jon Stewart Show

(Tues. (13), 12-1 a.m., KCOP)

Production: Videotaped at Chelsea Studios, New York City, by Paramount Domestic Television in association with Busboy Prods. and MTV Prods. Executive producers, Jon Stewart, Barry Secunda; producers, Elyse Roth, Madeline Smithberg; co-producer, head writer, Fred Graver; director, Beth McCarthy; script, Chris Albers, Dave Attell, Brian Hartt, Tom Hertz, Alan Higgins, Stephen Higgins, Joshua Leib, Charlie Runin, Cliff Schoenberg, Andrew Steele; lighting designer, Randi Nordstrom.

Crew: Set designer, Cabot McMullen; sound, Al Centrella.

Cast: Host: Jon Stewart; announcer, Howard Feller.

More TV

  • Transparent

    'Transparent' Without Jeffrey Tambor? Unimaginable But Possible. Here's How

    Guests: Ethan Hawke, Jennie Garth, Public Enemy. Former MTV talkshow host Jon Stewart moves onto broadcast airwaves with a relatively smart, witty program produced and distributed by Paramount in hopes of capturing at least some of Arsenio Hall’s old audience. Based on the first two episodes, show’s a potential winner that’s hampered in some markets […]

  • Carmen Ejogo Trust Detective

    'True Detective' Season 3 Casts Carmen Ejogo

    Guests: Ethan Hawke, Jennie Garth, Public Enemy. Former MTV talkshow host Jon Stewart moves onto broadcast airwaves with a relatively smart, witty program produced and distributed by Paramount in hopes of capturing at least some of Arsenio Hall’s old audience. Based on the first two episodes, show’s a potential winner that’s hampered in some markets […]

  • iHeartRadio Music Awards Live Stream

    E! Investigating Ryan Seacrest Misconduct Claim

    Guests: Ethan Hawke, Jennie Garth, Public Enemy. Former MTV talkshow host Jon Stewart moves onto broadcast airwaves with a relatively smart, witty program produced and distributed by Paramount in hopes of capturing at least some of Arsenio Hall’s old audience. Based on the first two episodes, show’s a potential winner that’s hampered in some markets […]

  • Rev Run

    Netflix Orders Comedy Series Starring Rev. Run, Wife Justine

    Guests: Ethan Hawke, Jennie Garth, Public Enemy. Former MTV talkshow host Jon Stewart moves onto broadcast airwaves with a relatively smart, witty program produced and distributed by Paramount in hopes of capturing at least some of Arsenio Hall’s old audience. Based on the first two episodes, show’s a potential winner that’s hampered in some markets […]

  • I Am Elizabeth Smart

    TV Review: Lifetime’s ‘I Am Elizabeth Smart’

    Guests: Ethan Hawke, Jennie Garth, Public Enemy. Former MTV talkshow host Jon Stewart moves onto broadcast airwaves with a relatively smart, witty program produced and distributed by Paramount in hopes of capturing at least some of Arsenio Hall’s old audience. Based on the first two episodes, show’s a potential winner that’s hampered in some markets […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content