"WakeBrothers": Reality show in a fantasy world

Growing up in Wisconsin, I always heard rumors of this opposite world. There were surfing songs and "Beach Party" movies and more, all claiming that somewhere people spend the entire year in waterfront sunshine.

It seemed like make-believe, of course. But reality shows helpfully remind us that it's real life for some people. Now comes "WakeBrothers," which is moving to Mondays on MTV; here's the story I sent to papers:


Lives like this show up a lot in movies
and maybe in our daydreams.

Two brothers are young and hard-bodied.
They hang out by the water, with lots of bikini beauties nearby; they
work a little, play a lot.

The difference is that these guys (on
MTV's “WakeBrothers”) are real. “This is what we've we've done
our entire lives …. It's just a really fun sport and lifestyle,”
Phil Soven said. “It's all awesome.”

The sport is wakeboarding – sort of
snowboarding meets water skiing. When the “WakeBrothers” season
was filmed, Phil was 23 and ranked No.1; his brother Bob was 20 and
ranked No. 3.

But that isn't what “Wake Brothers”
– now moving to Mondays – is really about.

Part of it is like a surfing movie or
Beach Boys song – the notion of an endless summer of water fun. And
part is sibling-rivalry in overdrive: “We're both crazy in opposite
spectrums,” Bob said.

That includes quirks in their body
clocks. Bob is usually up by 8 a.m., ready for sunshine; Phil says
his wake-up time varies from10 a.m. to 1 p.m. “One time, he slept
until 7 p.m.,” Bob said.

And part is personal quirk. With his
mass of reddish hair, Bob proclaims himself “the ginger menace.”

These opposites compete in the same
sports and in life. “Everything they do is such a competitive thing
in their own personal nature,” said producer John Erhard. “And
then you put them under one roof and it just amplifies that dynamic.”

It's their parents' roof, along a
man-lake in Florida. The elder Sovens occasionally intervene. “They
use the car as the time-out zone still,” Bob said.

Mostly, it's hands-off. Their dad, in
particular, “lives vicariously through the boys,” Erhard said.

Viewers saw that in the series-opener,
when Bob concocted a tough trick. One guy crashed hard, but Bob
conquered it; his pre-determined prize was a brief kiss from one of
the bikini beauties.

During all of this, their father seemed
amused. But should a pro be risking injury on a stunt? Phil – the
sensible one – comes to his brother's defense on this.

“Being a professional athlete in an
action sport,” he said, “is pushing the limits and trying things
that are dangerous …. It's an extreme sport. If you fall and get
hurt, that's part of it.”

There are limits, he granted. “If
there's a contest next weekend, I'm not going to go out and try
something crazy I might get hurt on.”

But the season ends and life continues.
In his endless summer, there's time to be young and crazy.

– “WakeBrothers,” MTV; on Aug.
20, moves to a new slot at 11 p.m. Mondays, rerunning at 1 a.m.

– The following week will have
frequent reruns; that includes noon, 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Aug.27 and
4 and 4:30 p.. Aug. 30.