It's not hard to see why Neil Patrick Harris got his own TV show. He was a teenage doctor in Doogie Howser.

He was a great Oscars host this year. And he was impressive as Amy's creepy ex-boyfriend in Gone Girl. Now he's the host of Best Time Ever, (which started last night on TV2, 8.30pm), a gaudy, hyper, bizarre take on the British mash-up that is Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway. It's as cheesy and forced as its title suggests, and a shambolic waste of NPH's talent, marrying the worst of Fear Factor, Punk'd and Oprah (you've won a year's worth of roses!)

Best Time Ever is filmed live, possibly under the influence of amphetamines, so perhaps you can forgive a few first-night jitters. You can practically hear the producers behind the scenes, screeching, "Energy guys! Give it more! Bigger!" But not even NPH seemed natural in the skin of this ridiculous show, on a dated blue and red set that became increasingly Xanadu as the night wore on.

Guest host Reese Witherspoon was clearly doing her friend a massive favour; her role appeared to be re-enacting Legally Blonde and playing cheerleader - by the end she waved pompoms. Meanwhile Nicole Scherzinger, who will appear every week, is an amazing dancer but watching her pour herself all over some poor guy in the audience as his unimpressed wife looked on was just tacky.

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An Oscar winner and a Pussycat Doll? It was an odd mix to say the least.

After this awkward opening, an unsuspecting couple from the audience watched a film clip of their arrival in New York, and - omigod best time ever! - there's NPH going undercover as their driver.

He also gatecrashed their wedding photos (which may or may not have been staged), before presenting them with a free honeymoon to Antigua.

"I love antiquing," quipped Reese.

Guest host Reese Witherspoon cracks some terrible jokes.
Guest host Reese Witherspoon cracks some terrible jokes.

What better way to bury terrible jokes than with karaoke? Cue Gloria Gaynor singing I Will Survive as viewers at home attempted to finish the lyrics, some while drinking (who could blame them?) Lights flashed, dancers in tight lycra shimmied, and just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, Carrot Top appeared, dangling a dead fish. An omen, perhaps.

A good host needs to be entertaining, sure, but the show's biggest flaw is its reliance on NPH to do all the work.

And now folks, watch me scale a skyscraper with my friend, Reese Witherspoon, before ziplining to the ground! Yes, this happened, apparently during the live taping.

The show's only redeeming feature was NPH dressing up as the "Austrian" host of The Voice, and pranking the singing show's stars, Gwen Stefani, Blake Shelton, Pharrell Williams and Adam Levine, with an awkward interview and cringe-worthy audition. But that was as funny as it got.

By the time a young woman from the audience had won a Jeep, and NPH had pogoed his way into a weird party scene featuring cocktail flair, magic and dancing, it was obvious they'd forgotten to hire an editor.

Bravely, or should that be stupidly, it's up against TV3's The Graham Norton Show, which also has celebrities and a likeable host, only this one sits and talks to them, with wit and warmth.

NPH has both of these qualities, but Best Time Ever has so much cheap, gameshow-filler, you'd almost never know.