Review: NPH’s ‘Best Time Ever’ …Eh, I’ve Had Better

Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris is very strange, and I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s billed as a variety show, but it’s a mixture of celebrity Candid Camera, a game show, America’s Got Talent and physical challenges from Double Dare. While some of the show succeeds with its seemingly unplanned charm, other moments will make some viewers feel like their lives will never, ever be as great as the one belonging to its host.

Harris is more of a public persona than an actor in my book. Personally, I feel like I watch him more as a host of awards shows than I do as an actor. When he’s hosting the Tony Awards, he can do no wrong in my book. Give me singing and dancing NPH—he can land a joke while doing a time step and making me melt with his “aw shucks” grin. The standard variety show hasn’t been around for years, so it’s interesting that Harris wants to take a stab at it. He’s honestly the type of guy who could pull it off.But does it work? I’m not sure. In the Tuesday series premiere, Reese Witherspoon pulls a big WTF moment in the first few seconds as a celebrity guest announcer. Wrangling a super famous announcer for every episode will be really impressive, so points should go to NPH. Since the show has a frantic format, one doesn’t really know where it’s going to go from there. For instance, he pulls a couple of newlyweds on stage and reveals that he’s basically been following them around for weeks. Harris disguised himself as an elephant mascot at a football game, and he even unknowingly photobombed them when they were getting their wedding pictures taken. At the end of his big reveal, he tells them that he’s sending them on a long honeymoon.

Some segments, however, fall flat. Carson Daly comes out (he still hasn’t selected a college major, evident from his outfit) to tell everyone that Harris “really pulled a fast one” during a taping of The Voice. Harris dressed up as the host of the Austrian version of the show, and he conducted a strange interview with the judges (Gwen Stefani, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, and Pharrell). He then went on stage and performed “And I’m Telling You” during a blind audition. Harris watched the segment from a box on the screen, and you could tell he wasn’t even enjoying it. Another segment featured Witherspoon and Harris climbing a 15-story structure and zip lining off of it. She wasn’t in on it, but Harris doesn’t seem to care since he beat her to the finish line.

When Harris is generously showering gifts on unsuspecting audience members or interviewing strangers, he’s charming and fun. When it comes to the dumb celebrity tricks, though, it feels kind of like he’s rubbing it in your face. It’s like the winner of the trophy is bragging how shiny it is. Let the audience have the best time ever, Neil. We already know you are having a blast. 

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