‘Best Time Ever’ a wild ride for audiences


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Neil Patrick Harris hosts “Best Time Ever,” a new variety show.

Anubhuti Kumar, Staff Writer

A couple gets stalked for a year, Reese Witherspoon jumps off an ersatz skyscraper and Neil Patrick Harris does a backflip off of a pogo stick. These are only some of the random things Harris manages to pull off in his new NBC reality show, “Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris.”

A variety show filled with stunts, pranks, games and celebrity cameos, this hour long program has something for everyone, beyond the universally appreciated charm and wit of Harris. While networks may be over saturated with trashy reality shows,”Best Time Ever,” based on the British series, “Saturday Night Takedown,” brings a breath of fresh air to the tired genre. Though the format is hardly groundbreaking, “Best Time Ever” attracts audiences with its playful nature. In particular, the sketch “Little NPH” was a clever bit, portraying a younger version of Harris, suits and suavity and all with their amusing rapport, “Little NPH” has promise to be a recurring hit.

“Best Time Ever” took an unsettling turn when it brought audience participation to the next level. Bringing up a young couple to stage, the host began showing them moments from their life in the past year, from footballs games to their own wedding, where somehow Harris showed up disguised and managed short cameos without them finding out. The couple’s shocked reactions are mirrored by the viewers, both at home and in the studio. It’s still impossible to try to figure out how this was executed, and it’s a bit creepy.

The series premiere on Tuesday, Sept. 15 did have a genuinely hilarious moment Harris pranked the judges of “The Voice” by speaking to them as the heavily-accented host of Austria’s “The Voice,” programming that does not actually exist. When Harris proceeded to audition on “The Voice,” singing as Jorgen but with an American accent, none of the judges chose him. It was definitely entertaining to see the musicians’ appalled faces when they found out it was actually Neil Patrick Harris.

In today’s reality television world of instant gratification and shock value plots, “Best Time Ever” could be TV’s solution to renew interest. Though the show is an hour long, it jumps from topic to topic so quickly, managing to keep viewers on their toes.

Harris’ excitement and energy is definitely catching as he interacts with many different personalities on the live stage. It is the bloated cast of “Saturday Night Live,” condensed into one person. However, Harris makes sure to share the stage with guest actors. Nicole Scherzinger and Reese Witherspoon played excited sidekick and guest announcer, respectively, but it was ultimately Harris’ fluidity in moving from performer to host that kept the audience engaged. This family-friendly incarnation of the variety show is good for laughs and mid-week bonding.

“Best Time Ever” airs on Tuesdays 10/9c at NBC.

Email Anubhuti Kumar at [email protected].