Best Time Ever Premiere

Neil Patrick Harris' Best Time Ever: Did the Variety Show Live Up to Its Name?

When you call your show Best Time Ever, you’re setting the bar pretty high for yourself. Fortunately, human Fun Dip and über host Neil Patrick Harris was largely ready for the challenge during Tuesday’s big premiere.

Following an enthusiastic (if not slightly spastic) introduction from guest announcer Reese Witherspoon, NPH revealed to an unsuspecting couple in the audience that he’s basically been stalking them for the past few months. Like, he was even secretly present at their wedding in Alabama. (Damn it, Harris, you’re lucky you’re so cute.)

The surprises continued after the first commercial break when several viewers-at-home learned they were being thrust into a game of Russian Roulette karaoke, led by the legendary Gloria Gaynor. Unsurprisingly, most of them knew the lyrics to “I Will Survive.” (I know I joked about Russian Roulette earlier, but can you imagine if the losers got killed, aka didn’t “Survive”? Maybe they’re saving the really dark stuff for sweeps.)

A third segment called “Neil Versus” pitted the host against Witherspoon in an American Ninja Warrior-style battle of brawn. Though Elle Woods put in a good effort — seriously, I got tired just watching them climb that massive structure and zip-line down to safety — it was Doogie Howser who emerged victorious. (Don’t worry, Reese, you’re still America’s sweetheart!)

Best Time Ever got back to the pranks with “Undercover,” a segment in which Harris disguised himself as the new host of Austria’s The Voice. Though Carson Daly, Gwen Stefani, Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and Pharrell Williams seemed genuinely surprised by the reveal of NPH’s true identity — following a few awkward interviews and one super-uncomfortable audition — the subsequent plugs both for The Voice‘s upcoming season premiere and for Daly’s appearance on the Today show made it all feel 20 percent less genuine.

The premiere concluded with an assault on the senses (Dancers! Acrobats! Pitbull?), which felt very on-brand for the over-the-top show — though I do have a few questions about what was in Little NPH’s glass at that bar. (Milk? Yeah, OK.)

But what did you think of NBC’s take on 21st century variety? Will you return for a second Best Time Ever? Grade the premiere below, then drop a comment with your full review.