July 19, 2005 --
"Venus & Serena: For Real"
Tomorrow night at 10 on ABC Family
EVERY little girl with aspirations of growing up to become just like tennis' top-ranked Williams sisters should glom onto "Venus & Serena: For Real" and watch it as obsessively as the Williams sisters watch videos of their matches.
Too bad they can't. Watch it, that is. Even though there's no school the next day, the show, which debuts tomorrow, isn't on until 10 p.m. — which is too late for little kids, although it's about right for pre-teens and teens.
The show follows the sisters as they go from match to match or, if injured, match to home or, in the case of Serena — the designing sister — to her office.
While it's semi-interesting, it's no more interesting than say, the usual sports inserts about various athletes that run during big matches between sets or quarters.
We see them practice (well, we see Venus practice and Serena ride in the golf cart next to her, so it's no shock when she gets injured the next day), we see them in their nondescript hotel rooms, and get a glimpse of what we assume is the plush, plush (did I mention plush) grounds of their West Palm Beach, Fla., home.
The series opens with the sisters and their sisters discussing their childhoods. They laugh at their misconceptions of childhood and how they never knew they were poor. Of course, they talk about having a 1,900-square-foot apartment when they were kids, so either they are still harboring misconceptions, or they lived in the size apartment New Yorkers only dream about.
At any rate, the series shows the bond between the two beauties and their family. At one point, one of the sisters, talking about family, says her mom (Oracene Price) isn't around much anymore, but we are left wondering what the heck happened to her. I can only assume that it's because the parents are divorced that they just aren't seeing their mother as much.
Dad Richard is around, although he doesn't have much of a "part" in the show. Sister Isha, an attorney, is their business manager and we do see a lot of her. In fact, the producers take a cheap, er, shot at Isha when they flip back and forth between Isha in the stands and Serena playing on the court.
Isha, the polar opposite of the perfectly toned, muscled, athletic sisters, is a very overweight woman in stretch sweats, and the camera jumps from action on the court to Isha ignoring the match to obsess about the chicken-salad sandwich the man next to her in the stands is enjoying. I doubt the sisters will take kindly to that very unnecessary volley.
While the sisters are dynamos on the court, they are sweet and loving in real life. This makes for exciting tennis, just not exciting reality TV.
So, who does come out as the one star of the show? Serena's bad, bad dog Jackie, that's who. The little Jack Russell-looking doggie is a lovable monster who steals the turkey, piddles on the couch and gets into all kinds of mischief about which she is very, very sorry.
Hey — how about getting the dog a coach, too?