Stewart's opening was very polished and included graphics and a monologue that could be considered prepared material. Colbert had very little polish but his performance was much more energetic and less bitter than Stewart's.
At one point, Jon Stewart said (and I'm paraphrasing) that after 9/11, their show went off the air for a week. The writers strike is nine times worse than that. (Meaning the results, not the event.) However, his point of view was back and forth and even with comments like that and his residuals equation (distance from viewer to screen times two equals shut the fuck up) were hard to place in terms of which side he favored. Now obviously both performers want the strike to be over and they want what's best for their writing staff. I believe Stewart even attempted to pay his writers to stay but was denied this action by the guild, someone correct me on that.
The indecipherable nature of Stewart's attitude shouldn't have shocked anyone. In an AP story on Dec. 20th he and Colbert were quoted as saying, "We would like to return to work with our writers. If we cannot, we would like to express our ambivalence, but without our writers we are unable to express something as nuanced as ambivalence." The tenor of the two shows, however, was markedly split.
I know Stewart's going to take a lot of heat for the things he said; at one point mentioning that there was some antisemitic reasons for the negotiations not proceeding. With Colbert is was obvious he was against unions, but was that Stephen Colbert the person or Stephen Colbert the character? It was hard to tell on both sides of the hour if either man or show was supporting the writers or the producers. It almost felt like they'd either grown tired of it and just wanted to move on or they were somehow pressured into going back on the air but didn't care for it.
Either way, they ran long and gave me a headache trying to figure out why Futurama was starting at 11:06.
So yes they're back, but don't expect there to be the biting social and political editorial you've come to expect. Shows like that art sharp because they have talented writers and hosts, but if you removed any part of that it basically becomes The View, and no one wants that.