Billed as a “comedic reality series,” “WakeBrothers” introduces Phil and Bob Soven, surfing siblings with their own loosely plotted version of a Smothers Brothers routine, where Phil (the world’s No. 1-ranked wakeboarder) is the relatively sober-minded one and Bob (a rival pro) serves as the wacky comic relief. Mostly, it’s a bit like wedding “Fast Times at Ridgemont High’s” baked Jeff Spicoli with extreme sports, yielding a predictable dose of hijinks in a beachfront setting to while away hot (or boring) summer nights.
With his wild mane of red hair inspiring him to dub himself a “ginger crusader,” Bob is visually suited to the clown role, recalling a young Timothy Bottoms in “The Paper Chase.” In the premiere (MTV will air half-hour episodes back to back), Bob’s first sexual encounter prompts him to boast about having “lost my V card,” essentially creating his own surfer-dude language, a bit like Jodie Foster in “Nell.”
Phil is left to look on in exasperation at his younger bro’s antics, though the two are fiercely competitive, erecting a ramp to practice wakeboarding stunts that’s either gutsy or a thinly veiled suicide attempt. The sniping escalates when Bob convinces Phil’s girlfriend to fix him up on a blind date, then proceeds to behave (and dress) like a moron.
Conceptually “WakeBrothers” feels like a cut-rate sitcom, and the brothers do have a certain goofy charm in their teasing relationship. It’s mostly in the direct-to-camera interviews where the interaction comes across as conspicuously stiff, as if the pair could use better writers (sorry, “story producers”) to help formulate the lines with which they keep cracking themselves up.
Other wakeboarders also appear, but unless you’re into the sport (or for that matter unreservedly consider it one), the episodes suffer from the lack of an entertaining supporting cast. Phil and Bob’s parents do make an appearance, but unlike the Smothers, mom never indicates which brother she likes best.
MTV has exhibited a knack for spinning unscripted douchebaggery into gold, but the “WakeBrothers’?” wave figures to be more modest — mostly because its characters, while mildly colorful, are so eager to please they become kind of a drag.