Somebody Feed Phil Returns to Netflix, An Interview with Phil Rosenthal

Phil Rosenthal hits the road again for season 3 of “Somebody Feed Phil” on Netflix.

Rare is the man or woman who can appear on our television or movie screen and communicate before ever speaking a word. Phil Rosenthal is numbered among the few who can. His expressions tell a story that requires no words. His upwardly extended arms express jubilation not seen since Rocky Balboa celebrated in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He possesses the gift of joy and shares it in season 3 of “Somebody Feed Phil” premiering May 29th on Netflix.

For the uninitiated, Phil Rosenthal is the creator and executive producer of “Everybody Loves Raymond”, one of the most honored and successful sitcoms in television history. And if you’re late to “Somebody Feed Phil”, you’re in for a treat. His passion—for food, travel, people, and life—leaps off the screen, leaving the viewer smiling, laughing, and wanting more.

I had the pleasure of talking to Phil recently to discuss those passions and more and can say unequivocally that he’s either a brilliant actor on the scale of a DeNiro or he’s one of the most genuinely nice celebrities I’ve ever met. You’ll be hard-pressed to disagree after watching “Somebody Feed Phil”.

During season 3 Phil takes us to Marrakesh, Montreal, Seoul, London, and Chicago, with each episode leaving me to feel like I had just experienced that location with him…without the calories. And yes, food is the table around which we visually feast while watching, but for Phil, everything begins with the travel.

“The show for me has always been about travel first and foremost. The food and my stupid sense of humor is just my way to try to get you in the tent. I really want people to travel. I really think the world would be better if we all could experience a little bit of someone else’s experience. For me, food is the great connector, and then laughs are the cement and it’s how I’ve lived my life.”

Phil reflected on travel and also talked about the world’s current reality.

“Travel is as much, if not more than an important element in the show than food. What’s happening now is of course a tragedy, a human tragedy. But I want people to look at the show now, not with nostalgia or melancholy over what the world used to be, but I’m very optimistic because I really do see that this will end. So I want you to watch the show, enjoy it, travel with me vicariously, but also plan your vacation as you did before.”

I honestly would struggle to pick a favorite episode from season 3 of “Somebody Feed Phil”, but will confess that the one set in Marrakesh resonated with me the most. I knew very little of the destination–“an oasis in the desert of North Africa” as described by Phil–before he took me there on Netflix and it’s exactly that reaction that he’s hoping to elicit with the show.

“You can look at the Marrakesh episode and go, okay, the moment this is over, that’s where we’re going and plan it. That’s fun. That gives you, number one, something to look forward to, which is all life is anyway, right? We wouldn’t live if we didn’t have things to look forward to. And two, when it’s over, you’ll have made your plans and you’re ready to go”.

While I don’t know if it was intentional—and he did mention “Casablanca”– seeing Phil atop a camel riding through the Moroccan desert at the beginning of the Marrakesh episode evoked memories of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in “Road to Morocco”. Phil didn’t sing and Dorothy Lamour was nowhere to be found, but the image struck a nostalgic chord nonetheless.

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“Somebody Feed Phil” is a meticulously produced work of cinematic art.

With the premiere of five new episodes, my inclination would be to binge-watch them all in one sitting, but not only would I discourage you from doing that, so would Phil.

“I’ll never understand why it’s important to binge-watch. God forbid you watch one show a day instead of six in a row. That I just don’t get, maybe because I’m old, I just don’t get it. We spend months and months on every episode and we’re crafting every scene. Very carefully. Every line is considered. Every dish is considered. Every location. Every shot is considered. And when you’re binge-watching, it’s all a mishmash of everything. The human brain can’t possibly remember all the content. If you’re watching it all at once, it’s like cramming for a test”.

Don’t get me wrong, “Somebody Feed Phil” is eminently bingeable. It begs being binge-watched. It’s that good, that hypnotic in its appeal, that alluring. But try to resist. Following Phil’s lead, I not only watched season 3’s episodes separately but I found myself re-watching each one, sometimes more than twice. Besides, I was never one for studying anyway, let alone cramming, so this model works just fine for me.

Part two of my interview with Phil Rosenthal is right around the corner.

I’ve only scratched the surface of my conversation with Phil, so keep an eye out for more in the days to come when I talk to him about how he selects the destinations for “Somebody Feed Phil”, what dishes wowed him, the wish of his that Netflix granted, and if our hopes for a season 4 will be fulfilled, plus much more.

Until then, take the slow food approach that’s prevalent in Marrakesh and apply it to your viewing of season 3. Watch one episode. Savor it. Watch it again, the television equivalent of seconds. Soak it up. And know that there’s more just a remote click away the next day And best of all, no calories.

 

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What has been your favorite episode of this Netflix series? Are you hungry for the Season 3 adventures? 

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