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Fall’s only live weekly variety show, NBC’s Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris won’t be returning from hiatus. The show has been canceled by the network after airing only eight episodes.
As noted prior, the variety show was hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, and Variety reports it was canceled at the wish of both NBC and Harris. The ambitious show was much-hyped in the fall, and part of NBC’s desire to add more live television programs to the schedule after their buzzed about live musicals, The Sound of Music Live! and Peter Pan Live! helped the network gain some extra attention.
Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris was hosted and executive produced by Neil Patrick Harris, with singer and dancer Nicole Scherzinger featured as a co-host. The hour long variety show was based on a British series, Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. That show will air its thirteenth season in 2016.
The series followed a pattern every week to introduce their different segments. Each episode had a celebrity guest host (Reese Witherspoon, Tyler Perry and Reba McEntire all filled that role) who would introduce Harris and discuss that show’s events. Harris, his co-host and additional celebrity guests would then lead the audience through the sections of the program. After the guest host opening, Harris would surprise an audience member, who then participated in parodies of popular media and were given a prize by the show.
Other segments included "Get Lucky", a trivia game about the week’s current events, that also saw winners awarded with prizes; Undercover, a pre-taped segment that filmed Neil Patrick Harris as he pranked celebrities; "Sing Along Live", where a well-known singer or group would sing a karaoke-like version of one of their popular songs and viewers with hidden cameras need to fill in the lyrics to win money; and the "End of Show Show", which saw the hosts join a popular band for a finale spectacular.
The impressive efforts of the program to bring back the live, weekly television format never quite caught on with audiences, despite respectable ratings. And they didn’t seem any more interested in going back to the old-school variety show format, either. The format of Best Time Ever caused the show to be a massive and expensive undertaking for NBC, especially for one that wasn’t drawing massive ratings to match. As for Neil Patrick Harris, his hosting duties took up a lot of time off camera and led to a grueling schedule.
It’s entirely possible that Neil Patrick Harris didn’t quite know what he was in for by hosting a live show every week. Even though he’s excelled at hosting awards shows for the Oscars and the Tonys, a weekly show would seem like a grind. And, with taped segments that would take a while to set up and execute, his responsibilities as host and executive producer likely took a tremendous amount of work. Well, Harris and NBC still have a production deal, and I’m sure whatever they cook up next will be interesting to watch.