Refreshingly original, bracingly adult, and thoroughly delightful, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES is like the answer to a TV prayer you didn't know you'd made.

The crowd is willing to accept a few jokes at their expense, but they won't accept a host who turns the entire event into a joke. And the challenge is even greater for a host who is an outsider — even a well-respected outsider like Stewart.

It's a season with few highs and few lows, but the general level of mediocrity is higher than it has been.

The Oscars pose an unusual, and for many, insurmountable challenge for a host. You have to be big enough to command that stage, and smart enough to know when to step back and let the awards take over.