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TV Review: Jon Stewart’s Final ‘Daily Show’

After hosting The Daily Show for 16 years, Jon Stewart stepped down Thursday. A performance from Bruce Springsteen and the return of favorite correspondents like Stephen Colbert and John Oliver marked his final show. The following are reviews from TV critics around the web, compiled by B&C.

“In what could politely be called his apologia, a five-minute long endnote, he established that he was done with this late night business (for now) and that the rest was up to YOU -- as in, it's up to you to find out who the baloney peddlers are, and up to YOU to figure out who is spinning who and why they are doing the spinning (and who's getting spun).”
—Verne Gay, Newsday

“In a sincere and seemingly unscripted speech, Mr. Colbert told Mr. Stewart that, though Mr. Stewart had previously told his staff members ‘never to thank you because we owe you nothing,’ this was ‘one of the few times I have known you to be dead wrong.’”
—Dave Itzkoff, New York Times

“But the biggest moments were for Oliver and Colbert. The former, now on HBO, gently mocked his old boss for continuing to work within the constraints of basic cable, pretending to have no idea what commercials were. The latter made Stewart tear up, first with an elaborate analogy where Colbert was Sam and Stewart Frodo Baggins, then with a heartfelt speech about how much Stewart had meant to all of them.”
—Todd VanDerWerff, Vox

“Perhaps the biggest surprise was the appearance of Wyatt Cenac, who recently recalled on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast that Stewart had told him to ‘F— off’ after he raised concerns about what he regarded as a racially insensitive segment. The comedian’s WTF appearance was itself tacitly referenced as Cenac pretended he was outside the Daily Show studio and in no hurry to come in.”
—Clark Collis, Entertainment Weekly

“Each of these segments, and especially that last one, showcased what Stewart has uniquely brought to The Daily Show. In an age of news coverage where partisanship often demands getting both sides of even the most absurd argument, he astutely knifed through the clutter, in a way that frequently spoke to people who had the same thoughts but didn’t hear them articulated much – or nearly as well – in other venues.”
—Brian Lowry, Variety

“In the end, Stewart nobly resisted tears. He left his viewers with important advice about skepticism, riffing on a post-9/11, phrase that neatly summed up his impact on television, journalism, politics and American life in the early 21st century: ‘The best defense against bulls— is vigilance,’ Stewart said. ‘If you smell something, say something.’”
—Hank Stuever, The Washington Post

“The show finished with a rare moment of starry self-indulgence from the New Jersey boy: a live set from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, starting with, at Stewart’s request, Land of Hope and Dreams before segueing into Born to Run. At the end, the eloquence for which he has been so known deserted Stewart, and all he could manage was a choked up, awkward ‘Thank you and good night.’ He walked off stage, taking with him a glorious era of political satire. He was done.”
—Hadley Freeman, The Guardian