Neil Patrick Harris is Jack of All Trades and Master of Ceremonies
17 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The evolution of the talk show has brought us hosts that do more than just interview. It's no wonder that someone decided to create a show that features the skits and bits with no interviews. The result is "Best Time Ever" which stars Neil Patrick Harris and is LIVE ("How live is it?" I wonder. Better to suspend disbelief and enjoy.)

The title is such a bold promise. Let me take you through the first episode and evaluate how they did.

There's a live audience. And there's Reese Witherspoon--a great choice for the first guest announcer. She's standing in a red box at the back of the audience. She's witty and beautiful, but why don't you put her on stage, Neil? Maybe because the producers are afraid that other guest announcers might become too interactive and destroy the strict timetable that a live show requires?

First Neil interacts with the audience. This turns into a bit about a couple from the audience who were recently married. Neil was at the wedding, unknown to them, and he has clips to prove it. He also was at a football game they attended. And at their hotel ala Zelig. (Did they really not realize there were cameras in their car? Never mind, just enjoy).

Then they announce that Nicole Scherzinger is the show's second banana. She's no Ed McMahon or Vanna White, but--who am I kidding. This is great casting.

It's time for a sing-along karaoke contest, featuring three unsuspecting contestants who are watching the show in their livingrooms (Okay, maybe I can buy that, but I would guess that some family members might spill the beans, especially since you don't want to embarrass your dad, who's watching in his underwear. Well, maybe you do.) Gloria Gaynor comes onstage to sing " I Will Survive" with mirror balls spinning. Two of the three contestants know the correct lyric when it is their time to fill in the blank, winning $1,000 each.

Time for a competition called "Neil vs.", where our host is pitted against an audience member or the guest announcer or Nicole in some kind of competition. (Okay, does Neil really not know what the contest will be? Does Reese not know beforehand?) This week's contest is physical. Neil and Reese are suspended in the air on a large tower that they have to climb. The first one to the top and down a zipline to the ground wins. (It seemed like Neil might have paused at the top to make the race tighter.) Neil wins.

Carson Daly then joins Neil. They show a video of Neil pranking the cast of "The Voice" including Daly, pretending to be the host of Austria's version of the show. He also sings like a contestant and none of the four judges turn around. Finally, he reveals that he is really NPH and they all get some chuckles. I thought this was the funniest bit of the night.

Oh, did I mention that Carrot Top--he of the flaming follicles--stops by for a five second sight gag?

On with the show--they play a game called "Get Lucky". A fairly random audience member answers current events questions for chances at a plethora of--sixteen actually--prizes. Before they reveal what she has won, they offer her the opportunity to risk everything for a chance to win all sixteen prizes. She wisely takes her winnings, which include a car and $20,000 cash.

They wrap up the hour with their End-of-Show Show, for which Neil has learned flairing ala Tom Cruise in "Cocktail". He does sleight of hand, then they bring out four pogostickers or pogoists, whatever they call the guys who bounce on sticks. Fortunately they wear helmets, because one guy barely misses calamity performing a backflip. Neil pogos too and shows some acro skills. A marching band enters the stage with dancers, the Alabama Crimson Tide mascot, and various other revelers and a disco fever is enjoyed by all, including Reese and Carrot Top.

Was it fun? Sure. Can they keep the energy level up in future episodes? Probably. Was it the "Best Time Ever"? Negatory, but I'll give it a grade of "8" for its first installment.
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