REVIEW: Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris

16 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Kick Off Neil Patrick Harris’ New Show Best Time Ever With Our Favorite Celebrity Pranks of All Time.

Critics might not be kind to the charming actor’s attempt at reviving the variety show. Neil Patrick Harris can probably host anything: awards shows, open houses, book clubs, soirees, salons, an icebreaker between world leaders and whatever life form eventually turns up on Mars. Based on the series “Saturday Night Takeaway” that airs on Britain’s ITV, “Best Time Ever” has NBC playing to what in recent years has been its strength: live (and live-to-tape) spectacle. In addition to what we can only guess will be some legendary schemes, the former How I Met Your Mother star promises musical acts, comedy skits, audience giveaways and more will unfold on his new show. NBC has obligingly given him a spot in prime time for a live vehicle, Best Time Ever, but its Tuesday-night premiere turned out to be an unwieldy and peculiar mix of hidden-camera punking, celebrity challenges and one or three other things, including acrobatic guys on pogo sticks.

The network’s schedule is largely propped up by programs like “Sunday Night Football,” “The Voice” and its late-night franchise “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” And while hit scripted fare has been hard to come by, other than “The Blacklist,” NBC has found some success with live pageantry based on adaptations of Broadway musicals aired at holiday time. NPH is no stranger to going that extra mile for a few laughs (who else would strip down to their skivvies for the Oscars?!), but the funnyman has some pretty big shoes to fill when it comes to pulling practical jokes. 1. The network also intends to air the sitcom “Undateable” live on Fridays, and has considered plans to return to a variety show led by comedienne Maya Rudolph that got a brief test run in May of last year, this time with Martin Short as a co-host. The button-cute Oscar winner, who starred as the celebrity guest announcer on Tuesday night’s debut episode of NPH’s good-natured fever-dream circus jamboree, defied death by participating in a Fear Factor-lite challenge early in the episode.

For years, Clooney has gone toe-to-toe with Brad Pritt, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and even his own father with some pretty brutal stunts, but nothing quite compares to the on-set prank he pulled on The Monuments Men co-star Matt Damon. The show, adapted from a British series, opened with Harris revealing to a couple in the studio audience that he had been secretly insinuating himself into their lives: The camera cut away to taped footage of him disguised as a doorman welcoming them to New York’s Plaza Hotel and even photobombing their wedding.

Clooney’s undercover work was so stealth that Damon didn’t even find out until after filming wrapped that the actor had been stealing his clothes, and having them taken in, as to make Damon think he was gaining weight! Gloria Gaynor sang her disco classic “I Will Survive” while remote cameras invaded the homes of several viewing families and asked them to perform karaoke along with her.

But more importantly, he’s the noble fool trying to bring the variety show—or some indescribable amalgam of TV genres that certainly looks like a variety show—back to television. Also: Harris and an extremely game Reese Witherspoon (who was billed as the night’s celebrity announcer) were hoisted high on a metal scaffold, which they then climbed up and up and up, like Jack’s beanstalk, and from which they descended via zipline.

Forced and frantic, what Best Time most often relied upon Tuesday night was the minimal pleasure of watching people be good sports — coupled with a seemingly unshakeable belief that seeing celebrities have fun is fun in and of itself. As an example of that faith in the power of on-air bonded celebrity hijinks, you have the show’s first guest announcer, Reese Witherspoon, unknowingly (or at least so the show said) recruited into an American Ninja Warrior stunt with Harris on a suspended metal obstacle course. Some kid Harris referred to as “Little NPH!” – and a panorama of bits that also included a game-show element called “Get Lucky” and a frenzied finish that involved bar tricks, dancing and pogo sticks. Perhaps, on the one hand, to answer the question, “Would the Ellen show work in primetime?” (More than one Twitter user called out similarities between some of Best Time Ever’s bits and segments that have appeared on the world’s other famous genial gay person’s daytime talk show.) There was not one bit fromBest Time Everthat I could not see my great-aunt Susan or my parents’ neighbor Gail sharing on Facebook, tagging their book club members in the comments and accruing dozens of likes. During its upfront presentation in May, the network hinted at an idea that would allow an audience member or viewer to “win the ads,”or win the products being advertised during the program.

The best part about him and his ascent to fame is his willingness to exploit his myriad talents and take those risks (not to mention his ability to convince a coterie of random-ass celebrities to throw dignity to the wind and take those risks with him). The folks on NBC’s The Voice — in one of the show’s most unwise cross-promotional moments — were surprised to discover their show’s Austrian-edition host, interviewing them, was actually Harris in another one of his disguises. The show was essentially a collated version of those “You Wouldn’t Believe What Happened When…” videos and headlines that thrive on social media and viral monitors like Buzzfeed or Upworthy. Ahead of the Terminator Genisys release, Arnie suited up in character to prank unsuspecting tourists at Madame Tussauds wax museum in West Hollywood while they posed with his “wax” figure.

Segments could have been titled “Neil Patrick Harris Wore a Disguise and Stalked a Newlywed Couple and You’ll Never Guess What Happened!” or “Neil Patrick Harris and Reese Witherspoon Are Suspended In the Sky. Find Out Why!” Even nostalgia was involved: “Gloria Gaynor Sang Karaoke to ‘I Will Survive’ and It Was Everything.” Isolated on Fallon’s show or on Ellen, these bits (albeit in tighter versions) would be heralded. There were times, certainly, when Harris seemed a bit like the dinner party host who keeps forcing you to play another round of Celebrity when you just want to eat your chocolate cake, dammit. For more than two months, the TV stars went back and forth, with DeGeneres employing some clever editing to reveal the Today show co-host whipping Fifty Shades of Grey star Jamie Dornan, and Lauer retaliating by dropping 20,000 ping-pong balls through the sunroof of Ellen’s beloved Porsche Cayenne.

And if I were given my own TV show I’m not sure Carrot Top would be among the first people I would call, though Reese Witherspoon and definitely Nicole Scherzinger would be. (Stay tuned for the sequel to this article, titled “Why Nicole Scherzinger Is the Most Underrated Pop Performer of Her Time.” It is backed up by hours of pinot grigio-fueled 2 a.m. It all came to a head when DeGeneres released a racy video of Lauer lounging in his birthday suit as he shaves his legs, plays ping-pong and even slaps his butt with a paddle. I think I’m in the minority stressing all of these positives from the premiere, but sometimes you have to be the man out on the limb—the Legally Blonde star out on the teetering Erector set hovering over a parking lot—in order to make your point.

Here you can write a commentary on the recording "REVIEW: Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris".

* Required fields
All the reviews are moderated.
Our partners
Follow us
Contact us
Our contacts

About this site