TV Review: Boarding House

Wed Jun 18, 7:05 PM ET
By Ray Richmond

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Imagine "The Real World" with professional surfers and you have a pretty fair idea of "Boarding House: North Shore," which commendably isn't quite the chick ogle-fest we might expect.

Oh sure, there aren't many unattractive people here, and the participating females are all blond. But this WB Network summertime reality effort is positively artistic compared to the limp hybrids that have come out of NBC of late. This one is at least personality-driven in the best "Survivor" sense, which is no accident, since it bears the imprint of producer Mark Burnett -- a guy who knows his stuff when it comes to depicting people interacting in close quarters.

Burnett was called in after the original footage was shot to whip the six-part series into something resembling viewable shape. He is, thus, mostly a glorified editor here. But no matter. It's hard to go wrong when your backdrop is the famed surfer's paradise of Oahu's North Shore and your subjects are all scantily clad and/or bare-chested. The WB knows its audience, and it ain't the "60 Minutes" crowd. But "Boarding House" manages to cater to that viewership without being too gratuitous.

The idea here is to cast a high-powered lens on a bunch of buff, young pro surfers as they descended last summer on the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing on Oahu, Hawaii -- requiring seven of them to live together for seven weeks in the same megafunky mansion. We watch them as they party, work out, compete and then party some more while the rock beat drives on.

Castmates include Sunny Garcia, 33, a hard-nosed five-time surfing champ struggling to stay on top; Myles Padaca, 32, the reigning Triple Crown champ; Holly Beck, 22, co-founder of International Women's Surfing; Veronica Kay, 22, a towering surfwear model; Danny Fuller, 21, your basic pretty boy; Chelsea Georgeson, 19, from Australia; and Damien Hobgood, 23, a Florida kid rising through the competitive surfing ranks.

The good news is that you really don't have to be into surfing at all to be entertained. In fact, once you've seen one killer wave, they all start looking pretty much the same. What's more interesting is the raucous culture that surrounds the surfing -- the boys-will-be-boys, girls-will-be-girls boozing and mating rituals.

In fact, Burnett and the executive producers display an impressive dexterity in being able to manufacture drama where there often is none. Just when it was beginning to seem that these hardbodies were as dull as dishwater, Sunny gets his knickers in a twist over a drunk having the temerity to speak to his wife. It's always intriguing to see that the producers make no bones about the need to help fuel the occasional story line, listing here a pair of story editors for such a purpose.

Transparent as that may be, there are worse ways to spend one's TV time than watching young athletes navigating the magnificent waves of Hawaii -- and then trying to make a few of their own.

Cast:

Sunny Garcia, Holly Beck, Danny Fuller, Veronica Kay, Damien Hobgood, Chelsea Georgeson, Myles Padaca.

Executive producers: Lisa Hennessy, Bruce Toms, Lisa Berger
Co-executive producer: Andrea Richter
Producers: Mark Burnett, Leslie Garvin
Line producer: Sandy Cohen
Directors: Kasey Barrett, Jeff Jenkins, Alicia Bean, Rico Martinez
Director of photography: Mark Jungjohann
Story editors: Paulette Terry, Brandon Reigg
Editor: Jim Ruxin
Music: Jason Bentley.