Neil Patrick Harris to Debut ‘Genius Junior’ + ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ Season 2

Neil Patrick Harris NBC only
Neil Patrick Harris, Photo: Christopher Polk/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

East Hampton homeowner Neil Patrick Harris is setting the small screen ablaze next month with a pair of top shelf series. First, he hosts the new NBC gameshow Genius Junior debuting on Sunday, March 18 at 9 p.m. Then, on March 30, Harris returns to his role as dastardly Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 2 on Netflix.

As host and an executive producer for Genius Junior, Harris will work with real life Doogie Howsers—some of the smartest kids in America—who will compete in this ultimate test of intelligence and endurance. These bright youngsters, ages 8–12 in 12 teams of three, will face off in four rounds of increasingly complex and difficult quizzes with the goal of being crowned Genius Junior.

Neil Patrick Harris on "Genius Junior"
Neil Patrick Harris on “Genius Junior,” Photo: Evans Vestal WardNBC

NBC points out that while most adults rely on Google Maps and calculators for navigation and math, and auto-correct for spelling, the child geniuses show off their superior intellects with feats such as memorizing the entire U.S. highway system, solving brain bending math equations and spelling stupendously difficult words—backwards—to name just a few of their many challenges. And it’s all done against the clock and with pressure of answering on the spot.

Each episode’s winning team moves on to face The Cortex, which NBC calls “the toughest test of smarts on the planet,” to build up their prize fund. The kids who succeed at Genius Junior can’t just be math prodigies or spelling champs—they must be brilliant in all subjects, not to mention quick on their feet.

The season’s winning team will take home a Genius Junior grant to help set them on course for a bright future.

Perhaps less genius in the literal sense, Harris’s Netflix turn as Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events delivers big laughs and cringeworthy moments as he plots and schemes to strip orphans Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire of their inheritance. The first season was an excellent adaptation of the books by author Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, capturing the tone far better than the 2004 film starring Jim Carey.

A trailer for A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 2 was released this week. It’s a pretty good taste of what this show is all about, and it offers a glimpse of Harris as horribly charismatic Count Olaf. It’s hard not to love this monster of a man.

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