Perhaps “Snoops” is God’s way of reining in David E. Kelley. The guy just got bookend Emmys and he’s married to Michelle Pfeiffer, but his latest effort is already being dubbed “Oops.” It’s not hard to see why.
“Snoops” is everything Kelley shows aren’t supposed to be: all flash and dash, smoke and mirrors — and scarcely a thimbleful of substance Moody music and an antsy, artsy camera mix with esoteric visuals of time-lapse neon, setting the stage for… well, more music and askew camera angles and neon. With “Snoops,” there truly is no there there.
What the show does have is Gina Gershon (“Showgirls”), who can start a fire with a mere quiver of that pouty bottom lip. Gershon’s high-octane allure remains mostly intact here as she plays Glenn Hall, a savvy seductress of an L.A. private eye who has been known to sleep with targets to get them busted.
Opposite Gershon, Paula Marshall, late of ABC’s underappreciated “Cupid,” is Dana Plant, a cloying, by-the-book homicide detective who sours on conventional police work and on a relationship with her boss (Edward Kerr). She decides to work for Glenn. She’s conservative, disapproving, condescending. She can’t possibly get along with Glenn. So naturally, she does.
The third link in the detective agency is Manny Lott (spirited work from Danny Nucci), a device junkie who digs planting phone bugs and zapping people with tranquilizer guns. He’s at least fun to watch, unlike co-worker Roberta (Paula Jai Parker), a glorified assistant with a lousy attitude.
Kelley’s opening teleplay, directed with panache by fellow Emmy winner Allan Arkush, is bolstered by the presence of the incomparable John Glover in one of his deliciously deranged bad-guy roles. But even Glover’s best efforts are offset by the corrosive Marshall (“Is there a bathroom, or do you people just piss on each other?”) and by the swaggering and aloof Gershon, whose role the evidently conflicted Kelley originally wrote for a man.
Pitted against “The X-Files” and the CBS and NBC movie franchises on Sunday night, “Snoops” looks to have a tough time finding an audience. And even if viewers tune in for an eyeful at first, it’s likely they’ll find the protagonists pretty much impossible to cheer on.
Tech credits are sharp, save for a rash of overproduced visuals.