Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris has died over at NBC. There will be no service, nor there much sympathy from this writer, because I was never a fan of this attempt to revive the variety series. On paper this looked like a surefire hit. Neil Patrick Harris can sing and dance his way out of a paper bag, but this might have been too tricky for the Emmy winner to handle. He can revive a Broadway rock musical, but it appears the Twitter generation isn’t interested in a revival of a somewhat traditional variety show.
My love for NPH used to be very strong. Friends know why I have fallen out of love with Mr. Harris (I won’t go into it), but he’s a consistent television hosting presence. The variety show is a long dead and underappreciated medium. For those who have entertainment ADD, the variety show is a perfect way to spend 44 minutes. There’s singing! There’s sketch comedy! Want a dance number? Sure, we can do that!
If you’re still skeptical after all that potential content, Best Time Ever boasted a bevy of celebrity guest stars. Imagine my surprise when Reese Witherspoon showed up as the weekly celebrity announcer in the pilot episode. This Oscar-winner was clearly looking to have a good time in between prestige film projects, but that’s when I noticed something. Best Time Ever is all about Neil Patrick Harris. I get it—he’s the host, but it always felt like he was slightly shoving his celebrity in your face. The show was like being invited to a birthday pool party—except you had to spend the entire time watching the birthday boy jump off the high dive and applaud while doing so.
Surely, Mr. Harris was looking to bring a new experience to the small screen, but, alas, it didn’t work. It was too jumbled and undefined. There were moments where he brought “regular people” up on stage, and revealed to them that he had been following them around for days. Don’t worry. It’s not stalking when it’s all for good fun—and pitiful ratings. This should have been joyous, raucous and fun. Instead it was awkward and self-serving. I’ve had a better time at Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.