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Daily Reads: Jon Stewart’s Comedy ‘Mission Accomplished,’ Why You Should Watch ‘The Late Late Show’ Right Now and More

Daily Reads: Jon Stewart's Comedy 'Mission Accomplished,' Why You Should Watch 'The Late Late Show' Right Now and More

Criticwire’s Daily Reads brings today’s essential
news stories and critical pieces to you.

1. Jon Stewart’s Comedy “Mission Accomplished.” Jon Stewart didn’t just change the way comedy handles news, he helped groom an entire generation of talent. Nathan Rabin of Time writes about why he deserves a break:

Stewart and his writers and producers forged the next generation of major comic talent. They did so not by creating an army of Stewart clones—professional mini-mes parroting Stewart’s self-deprecating, neurotic yet fearless persona—but by mentoring talent that was complementary to Stewart but also extremely different. These breakout stars include blundering alpha-male, uber-gentile Stephen Colbert, who brilliantly hid behind the fake persona of a WASP blowhard with all of the cockiness and none of the competence in the world. They also include Larry Wilmore, the brilliant and bone-dry African-American writer and performer who would go on to take over Colbert’s slot when he left the Stewart-co-created-and-Executive Produced “The Colbert Report” to assume his rightful place in the comic hierarchy as the heir to the retiring David Letterman. Read more.

2. The Rise of Jon Stewart, The Fall of Brian Williams. Jon Stewart’s announcement that he’s leaving “The Daily Show” came soon after the news of Brian Williams’ suspension. Slate’s John Swansburg argues that Stewart’s rise hastened Williams’ fall.

Of course, Williams was playing with fire each time he strode into Stewart’s ersatz newsroom, running the risk of harming his credibility as an anchor by exposing himself to Daily Show antics, and by playing this slightly exaggerated version of himself who rejoiced in putting Stewart in his place. Stewart himself warned Williams that he’d better be careful. Back in the 2004 interview, he predicted that Williams the comic would eventually do damage to Williams the newsman. “One day, on ‘NBC Nightly News,’ you’re going to lose it and say what you really think, and it’s going to be the greatest day of my life.” That’s not exactly how it happened, but it’s not far off. It wasn’t that Williams let the anchor’s mask drop to offer one of the more off-color observations Stewart could occasionally tease out of him; he didn’t make a vagina joke in a “Making a Difference” segment. It was that the raconteur Williams had played on Stewart’s set, and Letterman’s, made a cameo on his newscast, delivering the aggrandized recitation of his helicopter experience in Iraq—the fish story, not the news. Read more.

3. Every Mundane Moment in “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Plenty of people are chronicling all of the sexy moments in “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Mike Ryan of Uproxx did the opposite, detailing every mundane moment.

• Anastasia casually brags about her grade point average.

• Anastasia rides in an elevator to get to a floor that’s probably too high for stairs.

• Anastasia worries sometimes that she’s underdressed.

• Anastasia at least sometimes attends college classes.

• Anastasia has another friend who is a photographer.

• Anastasia’s friends call her “Ana.” Read more.

4. The Problem with TV’s One-Hour Dramas. Broadcast networks generally aren’t doing as well as cable with one-hour dramas. The Huffington Post’s Maureen Ryan explains that few of them are trying something new:

Heaven knows, NBC needs to try something.As I’ve noted before, in recent years, there has been a sad procession of one-word title shows on the Peacock network that felt as though they arrived pre-canceled. Is anyone still shedding a tear for “Believe,” “Crisis,” “Crossbones,” “Deception,” “Dracula,” “Ironside” or “Revolution”? If you expand the search parameters beyond one-word titles, you add gems like “The Firm” and “Do No Harm” to the list of shows people forgot about (sometimes while they were watching them). Last week, the network debuted another one-worder, “Allegiance,” which, like so many other NBC dramas, took a concept and cast that might have worked and flattened the whole enterprise with colorless, uninspired execution. Read more.

5. The Man Who Made Masterpieces Out of Stick Figures. Don Hertzfeldt is one of the most exciting animators working today, and his new short “World of Tomorrow” is no letdown. Alison Willmore of Buzzfeed interviewed Hertzfeldt:

“I liked the idea of your older self speaking to your younger self,” Hertzfeldt said. “Because you’d have so much advice, but there’s no way your younger self is going to listen. The world-weariness of the older self — we’re all doomed, darkness, all these terrible pitfalls in your life — it’s just such a fun contrast.” “World of Tomorrow” has more festival screenings in its future, but Hertzfeldt is also eager to make it available on video on demand soon. “I just want people to see it,” he said. Read more.

6. Why You Should Watch “The Late Late Show.” Everyone’s paying attention to “The Late Show” and David Letterman at the moment, but “The Late Late Show” has gone some interesting places with its series of guest hosts before James Corden takes over. Entertainment Weekly’s Ray Rahman argues that it should be watched now:

Each guest host puts his or her own spin on the job, but they all have one thing in common: They have nothing at stake. They aren’t competing for a job, they don’t have to worry about ratings, and they’re allowed to bring their friends—or in some cases, family—as guests. When comedian Jim Gaffigan hosted on Jan. 19, he brought his five children to perform a song and interviewed his wife about their babysitter (who turned out to be Batman). [John] Mayer got Andy Cohen to retell a dream he had about the singer (“I think it was PG, headed toward another direction”), covered Jeff Buckley’s version of “Lilac Wine” with John Legend, and had a surreal conversation with the two sharks that danced with Katy Perry at the Super Bowl. [Judd] Apatow shared family photos and moderated a conversation between Lena Dunham and Adam Sandler involving Brooklyn fashion and Taylor Swift. Regis Philbin’s turn as guest host involved a surprisingly candid, freewheeling interview with David Letterman and Paul Shaffer. Read more.

Tweet of the Day:

Video of the Day: 
Jessica Williams hosts The Daily Show—in the future. (via Uproxx)

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