×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: ‘I’ll Have What Phil’s Having’

With:
With: Phil Rosenthal

As Woody Allen famously complained, “My mother spent my childhood putting the chicken through the de-flavorizer.” Apparently Phil Rosenthal, creator of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” can relate. He maintains he also grew up eating meals devoid of taste. So why would PBS give him his own six-part food show, “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having?” For one, Rosenthal is a very relatable guy and uses his everyman shtick to entertaining effect as he travels to destinations such as Barcelona, Hong Kong and Los Angeles in search of fun and delicious food experiences. While he won’t garner fans from the hipster sriracha flavor of the month club, he’s sure to be a hit with the Viking Cruise set.

In fact, fans of Rosenthal’s popular TV series should feel quite at home with the format of the show. It’s sort of like a very special episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond.” His wife and kids make appearances. His brother is one of the producers. He Skypes with his parents every episode. Ray Romano even makes a guest appearance in the Los Angeles episode. Being his kibitzing self is what makes the show appealing. Rosenthal is infectiously enthusiastic about food, and his show reflects the typical travel experience that most people yearn for — a general sense of local flavor, people and culture.

By incorporating travel segments, confessional style talks with the camera and special guests, some of whom are big-name Hollywood stars, the show explores not just food, but the experience of, say, tasting freshly made crema gelato out of an antique machine in Florence, Italy. Hint: Rosenthal actually gets a little verklempt after the first bite. It’s that good. In L.A., he tastes a taco so delicious, he jokes that he wants to follow the food truck like a Grateful Dead fan.

Episodes with a greater personal connection play the best. In fact, the L.A. segment, peppered with personal friends and stars, is the epicurean equivalent to Randy Newman’s “I Love LA.” Rosenthal, a transplant from Queens, took a while to warm up to Los Angeles. It was through the culinary scene that he found a sense of community. He makes a great case for it at the Grand Central Market, Koreatown, and L.A.’s oldest open air farmer’s market, among others.

Like fellow gastronomic guru Anthony Bordain, Rosenthal can be an acquired taste. He’s not edgy, political or even all that gourmet — although there are definitely high-end culinary concepts explored, especially in the Tokyo episode. At that city’s Narisawa restaurant, Rosenthal experiences a Forest Floor dinner, complete with a live audio feed from, yes, the forest floor. There are a few queasy moments as Rosenthal is game to try sushi so fresh he eats shrimp meat that’s still twitching.

The slick production value includes impressive scenery, personal touches and plenty of mouth-watering shots of food. Overall, the show could benefit from more judicious editing. At one point, Rosenthal reluctantly tries an Italian street meat sandwich made from a cow’s fourth stomach. (The first three stomachs are no good, he jokes; it’s the fourth you want). Ultimately, the focus is simple: trying something unexpected and sharing it with friends. If PBS plans to extend the limited run, a travel companion guide would seem like a natural fit.

TV Review: 'I'll Have What Phil's Having'

(Series; PBS, Mon. Sept. 28, 8 p.m.)

Production: Produced by Zero Point Zero Production, Inc., Lucky Bastard, Inc., and Studio Six @ WGBH Boston.

Crew: Executive producers, Phil Rosenthal, Richard Rosenthal, John Bedolis, Christopher Collins, Lydia Tenaglia, Craig H. Shepherd, David Beebe, Laurie Donnelly; director, John Bedolis. 60 MIN.

Cast: With: Phil Rosenthal

More TV

  • Apple Event: Everything We Learned From

    Everything We Learned From Today's Apple Event

    After revealing new services in news, finance, and gaming, Apple CEO Tim Cook kept the biggest, most anticipated announcement until last. Cook, along with heads of worldwide video programming Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, and a whole group of Apple’s creative talents, presented the company’s new Apple TV+ streaming service, which is slated to [...]

  • Miramax President of TV Lauren Whitney

    Miramax President of TV Lauren Whitney Exits to Join Spyglass Media Group

    Lauren Whitney, the president of television for Miramax, is leaving the company, Variety has learned. She will now become the president of television for Spyglass Media Group effective April 1. The news comes less than two years after Whitney first joined Miramax. There, she oversaw the studio’s television development, in addition to “Spy City,” produced by [...]

  • Tim Cook Oprah Winfrey Steven Spielberg

    Apple Sits Out This Emmy Season, but Get Ready for a Frenzy of Contenders in 2020

    Apple won’t be entering the Emmy race this year — but get ready for 2020. The tech giant’s not-so-surprise launch of its new Apple TV+ video service on Monday included a hefty roster of top producing and acting talent that will immediately make the service an awards contender when it launches in the fall. That [...]

  • Oprah Apple TV Plus

    Apple's Cavalcade of Stars Sets High Expectations (Column)

    Apple’s March 25 conference announcing various new services — including their upcoming passel of video content — was heavy on grandeur and light on specifics. Company CEO Tim Cook described the company’s move into television as part of an ongoing commitment not merely to diversion and customer satisfaction but to social change. “Apple has always [...]

  • Art Malik2017 Costa Book of The

    Hannah Simone's ABC Pilot Casts Art Malik in Lead Role (EXCLUSIVE)

    Hannah Simone’s comedy pilot at ABC has cast one of its lead roles. Variety has learned exclusively that Art Malik has signed on to star opposite Simone in the single-camera comedy. In the project, Hannah (Simone) and her Indian-American immigrant father Sid (Malik) have always been close, but after she admits to herself that she’s [...]

  • Apple TV Plus Reese Witherspoon Jennifer

    Apple Unveils First Look Footage From Its Original Shows (Watch)

    At a special event in Cupertino, Apple unveiled its Apple TV+ streaming service, and with it a short clip of some footage from its slate of upcoming original shows. One of the main originals teased was “The Morning Show,” a series which “offers an inside look at the lives of the people who help America [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content