Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Kelley Girls

By Devin D. O'Leary

SEPTEMBER 27, 1999:  By all accounts, TV mogul David E. Kelley has had a good year. He just nabbed dual Emmys, one for Best Comedy Series ("Ally McBeal") and one for Best Dramatic Series ("The Practice"). This summer, he wrote and produced a feature film (Lake Placid), and by October, theatrical audiences can catch a second writing/producing effort (Mystery, Alaska).

By all accounts, though, Mr. Kelley is also stretching himself a bit too thin. In addition to fueling "Ally McBeal," "The Practice" and "Chicago Hope," Davey-boy has two more TV series premiering this fall. "Ally" will be a half-hour spin-off of "Ally McBeal" made up entirely of trimmed-down old episodes. While that may stand out as one of the least creative ideas for a show in the history of TV, Kelley's other, much-anticipated fall series doesn't seem to hold much more imagination.

"Snoops" is a detective drama with faint aspirations of comedy. Kelley has drafted a couple fairly high-impact actresses to headline this glossy new series. Gina Gershon (still living down Showgirls, I'm afraid) and Paula Marshall (fresh off the underachieving "Cupid") star as a pair of ultrasexy L.A. detectives. As if that weren't enough to titillate viewers, Kelley has also stocked the office with babeish Paula Jai Parker (looking and acting exactly like Lisa Nicole Carson in "Ally McBeal") and token hunk boy Danny Nucci. Gershon frontlines as Glenn Hall, the owner of a California detective agency which has preposterously been the beneficiary of a client's $10 million windfall. Rather than retire to the Bahamas, Hall has decided to blow it all on a massive array of high-tech toys (hidden cameras, microscopic microphones, tranquilizer guns) -- all of which are employed, James Bond-style, throughout the show. "Snoops" -- a TV show, or an hour-long commercial for the Sharper Image catalogue. You decide.

With all its neon colors, blaring musical interludes and endlessly "atmospheric" shots of L.A. streets at night, "Snoops" looks like it's trying hard to be a West coast "Miami Vice." In truth, it's nothing more than Pamela Anderson's "V.I.P." series with a smaller cup size. Kelley pens his characters as if they were all locked in "smarmy" mode. With all the bitching, carping and catty asides, every character (good guy or bad guy) emerges as vaguely annoying. The detecting work is -- charitably speaking -- less than realistic. Our P.I.s manage to break several dozen laws in the first episode alone (extortion, breaking and entering, wiretapping, computer hacking, overtinting their car windows).

Had it been sold to the USA network and paired up with an equally cheesemont crime series like "Silk Stalkings" or "Pacific Blue," "Snoops" might have lasted a season or two. Amid the crowded Sunday night schedule, "Snoops" is a homicide waiting to happen.


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