The NBC program “Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris,” a live variety show, debuted on Sept. 15 on NBC.
Actress Reese Witherspoon served as a guest announcer on the program and the episode included pranks, a song-and-dance number, and audience interaction (including the revelation that Mr. Harris had been popping up during moments of a couple’s life before the show, including their wedding).
The program is based on the British program “Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway,” which has the same format of featuring many different sketches.
Reviews from critics are somewhat mixed for the first installment of NBC’s new live show. One reviewer wrote that the show was “a spectacular TV coup… [Harris] stole the show.”
But others found the show a bit too manic or unbelievable. One found that “Harris was energetic and charming… I liked that ‘Best Time Ever’ was big and loud and frenetic and ambitious. I just wish I could have suspended my disbelief for even one segment.” But others found the program a bit too over-the-top, with other reviewers calling it “misguided,” “as perplexing as it was distracting,” and “forced and frantic.”
The show seems to be suffering the problem of doing too many things in an effort to catch viewers’ attention. NBC no doubt made the program live in an effort to recapture the success of its recent hit “The Sound of Music Live!,” which aired in 2013 and featured country singer Carrie Underwood and “True Blood” actor Stephen Moyer starring in a live version of the show. Ratings for last year’s “Peter Pan Live!,” the network’s follow-up to “Music,” didn’t reach those of “Music” but were still good. In addition, one of its biggest reality competition hits, “The Voice,” airs live episodes for its finale.
It seems like the program being live is one gimmick among many right now for “Best.” Perhaps in the future those behind the program will cut down on the many skits and focus on a few popular bits.