The Oscars: ABC


Sometimes the sequel is better than the original. Host Jon Stewart’s second at-bat as Oscar host was an improvement on his 2006 debut…. Stewart had a few clunkers (even he knew his create-your-own stripper name joke was a dud), but who wouldn’t? He delivered a mostly winning 10-minute opening monologue and kept the humor going in dribs and drabs throughout. What else do you want? (Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Maybe it was post-strike exhaustion. Whatever the explanation, Jon Stewart didn’t bare his claws quite as often during his enjoyable Sunday stint as the host of the Oscars. (Maureen Ryan, Chicago Tribune)

I was surprised, however, that all of that pent-up creativity from the 14-week writers’ strike wasn’t unleashed during the 3-hour, 15-minute telecast. The best line of the night came from the late Bob Hope, who explained to an Oscars audience the tallying of the winner: “A secretary types them up and she is taken out and shot … so here we are.” (Aaron Barnhart, Kansas City Star)

There were several references to the recent strike by the Writers Guild of America, which, if it had continued, might have meant canceling the 80th Oscars altogether or putting on a much reduced and postponed show later in the year. Actually, that might have been a pleasant change and a blessed relief from the bloated show and the effusive windbags making speeches that Americans endure annually, even as the number of other awards shows on television has grown exponentially. (Tom Shales, Washington Post)

Stewart was cool in his delivery, having done this gig once before. But he wasn’t quite on top of his game in terms of material. An average night’s "Daily Show" monologue is better. (Roger Catlin, Hartford Courant)

Was it me, or did host Jon Stewart get increasingly unfunny as the night went on? By the time he introduced presenter Harrison Ford as one of the world’s biggest movie stars or the name of a used car dealership, I was actually pining for the return of Whoopi (well, almost). (Eric Deggans, St. Petersburg Times)

So it was good to see Jon Stewart being Jon Stewart. He is shaping up to be a dependable Oscar host for the post-Billy Crystal years. He’s not musical, but he’s versatile enough to swing smoothly between jokes about politics, Hollywood, new media, and, most importantly, hair. Last night, after every Oscar moment of ego bloat, and after the many long stretches of highlight-reel nostalgia, his aggressively ironic smile was a welcome sight at the podium. (Matthew Gilbert, Boston Globe)

Not that there was anything grossly wrong with the broadcast, but it managed to seem overly long and, worst of all, not glamorous or fun enough. Jon Stewart did an admirable job as host, though strangely enough, he gave the event less pop and sarcasm than he did the first time around. (Tim Goodman, San Francisco Chronicle)

The show, with Jon Stewart as host, seemed less polished than usual but not much more spontaneous. If anything, the evening was weighed down by insecurity: the producers, worried that the strike would not be over in time, commissioned many montages of acceptance speeches and odd moments of Oscar ceremonies past — a streaker, Cher — and then, even after the strike was settled, kept them in as filler. (Alessandra Stanley, The New York Times)

All said, there weren’t a lot of surprises, although it is the rare TV event that combines an actual Cormac McCarthy sighting with tumbling utility works and Bavarian dancers. (Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times)