Phil McGraw pivots from daytime and his “Dr. Phil” studio to nighttime and on-location consults in “House Calls with Dr. Phil.”
In the series, airing Wednesdays (9 p.m.) on CBS, McGraw surprises families who thought they were talking about their issues for a reality show by showing up at their doorstep — and spending several days with them to help resolve their internal strife.
In the premiere, McGraw traveled to Utah to help a family whose teenage daughter had not spoken to her father in years — even though they live in the same house.
“I went to their homes and was really glad that I did — that’s where the drama happens, where there are so many triggers for whatever the conflict is and what’s shaping a family,” McGraw, 70, told The Post. “Whether it occurs in the kitchen, in the backyard, in the bedroom or marriages or wherever, this puts me on their home court and in an environment where these things spark off.
“It’s a level of involvement and intimacy I certainly don’t get in the hourlong platform of ‘Dr. Phil,’” he said. “I’ve always said nobody confesses in a crowd, and in front of a studio audience there is a conspicuousness that does have an inhibiting factor.”
McGraw said the original concept for the show was to bring the families to L.A. (where he tapes “Dr. Phil”) and to “put them in a house like the ‘Big Brother’ house, something like that type of environment.” But when the pandemic hit, and COVID restrictions came into play, those plans quickly changed.
“That answered the question for us and made the decision real easy,” he said. “So I went to their homes…because I have an hour on ‘Dr. Phil,’ the philosophy has always been to focus on a single issue…to the exclusion of other things, but here I’m with these families on multiple days. In the first episode I went in and the focus was this young girl who’d been stuck in her bedroom for five years — it was seemingly unbelievable, until you realize her mother is the enabler. When I got there I found out about her dad’s rage across-the-board, and then the son speaks up, and then I was able to pivot to him and deal with that issue.
“It’s so layered and I have enough time where I can pivot this way and that and it gives me the opportunity to deal with the whole family dynamic, which is really refreshing.”
In the coming weeks, McGraw will travel to San Jose, Atlanta, Denver and Oakland as he walks in and surprises each family. “We have a Hispanic family, a black family, some marriage issues, some parenting issues, some blended-family issues…we have a good smattering across-the-board.”
McGraw, who kicks off the 20th season of “Dr. Phil” on Sept. 20, said he’s open to doing more episodes of “House Calls with Dr. Phil.”
“Because of the pandemic we did six [episodes] and decided to take a breath and see what we’re going to do after that,” he said. “My issue was having to do the traveling [during the pandemic]…but having my crew there ahead of time we feel we can visit these homes and I think we’re going to be able to maintain this format and move forward…so I’ve agreed to do additional episodes if that’s what everybody decides they want to do.”