Maybe it is reflective of my age, but Jon Stewart’s interpretation of the “Daily Show” has always held a special place for me. Not one of the shows it inspired has resonated in my brain the same way.
So when Apple announced “The Problem with Jon Stewart”, I was excited. Two episodes have now aired and, well, it is different than I was expecting — but I like it.
It does not feel like the “Daily Show”, which is an advantage. That would not be fair to Trevor Noah, current host of the “Daily Show”, nor do I think it makes sense for there to be yet another show with a comedian sat behind an anchor desk. That conceit has been worn out.
Unfortunately, its model of a more in-depth look at a single topic each show is an arena crowded with many “Daily Show” alumnus. There’s John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight”, which uses that format every week; Samantha Bee’s “Full Frontal”, which does something similar from time to time; and Netflix carried “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj” for several seasons.
“The Problem” is not like those shows. Instead of trying to jam in a joke every thirty seconds, Stewart is comfortable leaving space and holding a relaxed conversation with guests. Its biweekly release schedule seems to reflect that slower pace, too. I appreciate that, but I feel like Stewart’s monologue at the top of the show could benefit from tighter editing. It is clear that he is as sharp as ever, but there was an almost musical beat to the way the “Daily Show” was edited that is missing here. It still feels like it is finding its footing.