As an entertainer, Neil Patrick Harris likes to think big.
That’s why his new live variety show is stuffed — make that, overflowing — with all manner of crazy content.
Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris, premiering at 9 p.m. Tuesday on NBC, has an anything-can-happen vibe. There probably will even be a kitchen sink involved. The show has everything else.
“It’s essentially seven shows happening simultaneously,” the Doogie Howser/Harold & Kumar/How I Met Your Mother star says. “It’s a party.”
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Best Time Ever is a throwback to the golden age of television, when variety shows were programming staples, but this show promises to update the staid old format for the new millennium.
“It will be live every week, all kinds of segments,” Harris says, “but not necessarily a variety show where I’m Ed Sullivan-ing it, introducing act after act.
“There will be game elements. We will have celebrity hidden-camera pranks. We’ll have people in the audience who don’t realize they’re going to be part of the show until I pull them up onstage.
“There’s something called ‘Win the Ads,’ where someone is randomly chosen, they answer trivia questions and, if they get enough right, they win all the stuff we’re selling in commercials during the show.
“And we end it with something called The End-of-the-Show Show, which is a big variety performance piece.”
The Candid Camera-style prank pieces feature such celebrities as Cobie Smulders (Harris’ How I Met Your Mother co-star), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family) and Jane Krakowski (30 Rock).
Harris one-ups them all, though, when he dons an elaborate disguise and uses a funny accent to conduct Borat-style interviews with a very puzzled Carson Daly and Blake Shelton on the set of The Voice. (One crazy/genius comment he makes to Daly: “Gwen Stefani of No Doubt. She is beautiful like dog!”)
The show also features a precocious Mini Me version of Harris: a 7-year-old named Nathaniel Motulsky who does man-on-the-street segments (or would they be boy-on-the-street segments?) as Little NPH.
“He’ll go off and interview celebrities and do crazy stuff,” Big NPH says.
If it’s something that amuses Harris and the rest of the Best Time Ever team, then they’re going to try to wedge it into the show.
16 age of Neil Patrick Harris when ‘Doogie Houser, M.D.’ premiered
It’s like a televised three-ring circus with Harris playing P.T. Barnum. “I love when the circus comes into town,” he says.
Best Time Ever is based on a hugely popular British TV show called Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. It’s hard to imagine someone better suited for the job than Harris.
As an entertainer, the former kid actor (age 16 when Doogie Howser, M.D. premiered in 1989) also has an extensive musical theater background (four Broadway shows, including the title role in 2014’s Tony Award-winning Hedwig and the Angry Inch).
As a host, his résumé includes emcee duties for four Tony Award telecasts, two Emmy Awards shows and the 2015 Academy Awards.
He has a quick wit and he’s game for just about anything, which makes this show “kind of my bread and butter,” he says.
Harris says he is a lifelong fan of the variety-show format and says he believes there is a potentially huge audience hungering for a show like this today.
I was drawn to this show because it’s a game-changer
Neil Patrick Harris, host
“Variety is in the zeitgeist of the world right now,” he says. “I think it’s a perfect opportunity to showcase some of that.”
By combining the hodgepodge premise with a live element, Harris says he hopes to deliver a program that will become appointment television.
“I was drawn to this show because it’s a game-changer,” he says. “People need a reason to watch TV when the show is actually happening.”
Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris
▪ 9 p.m. Tuesday
▪ KXAS/Channel 5