Glenn Hall, Dana Plant, Roberta Young & Manny Lott (Snoops)

Created by David E. Kelley

“So that’s why you brought me here–TO WAX ME?”
— Glenn, to serial killer who wants to turn her into a mannequin.

Glenn, Manny & Dana.

Snoops, TV hot shot David E. Kelley’s short-lived series, about a high-priced female-owned and operated detective agency in Santa Monica, California, premiered the weekend of September 25, 1999, full of promise and hoopla.

Let’s just say expectations were not met.

A major disappointment, considering that Kelley is the wunderkid who created and mostly wrote the always smart, challenging and provocative Picket Fences and the in-yer-face wink-wink nudge-nudge Ally McBeal, and the this-time-it’s-for-real The Practice, and well as several other smarter-than-yer-average-bear shows.

But Snoops? Sorry, it poops.

Maybe they were aiming the show at make-up addicts. There was enough lip gloss slapped on Snoops in just the first episode to weatherproof the entire female casts’ lips through a year of hard winter. It looked like a sexier version of Charlie’s Angels— the Angels may have jiggled, but the Snoops crew would have definitely put out. And there was enough product placement going on to fill an episode of The Price is Right.

I can’t believe Kelley created this lame excuse for a show. I mean, he’s won the Emmy, the Golden Globe and the Peabody Award, and then he put this out? Who does he think he is, the love child of Aaron Spelling and Bob Barker? (Lovely iMacs and Apple G3’s and and funky matching blue monitors, though. Their office looked like an Apple Store — which hadn’t even been invented yet.)

I kept watching it, just in case a bit of good writing got out. I realize everything can’t be Chinatown, but what was this?  A parody? Of what? Or was it a comedy? Was it supposed to be camp? Or were we supposed to take it seriously?

GLENN HALL (played by a very pouty-lipped Gina Gershon) ran this high-tech, high-faluting detective agency, along with street-smart (ie: black) partner ROBERTA YOUNG (Paula Jai Parker) and token beefcake technician MANNY LOTT (Danny Nucci). They’re big on electronic surveillance, wiretaps, computer hackings, bugs and breaking-and-entering, but they don’t seem overly concerned with the law, or even ethics. Business is booming, and they’re looking to hire another op. So along comes straitlaced, strictly by-the-book ex-cop DANA PLANT (Paula Marshall), looking for a job.

Oh, what jocularity and festivity then ensues!

And prettiness. All those people are so gosh-darn… pretty? Even Gina Gershon, who plays Glenn, which surprised me. I always used to think of her as sexy as all hell, but never really pretty. But here she’s pretty enough — and vapid enough — to be a Barbie. Like they sanded down her rough edges to make her look more, uh, generic?

And unless I misunderstood a quip or two, there was also a rather mean-spirited running gag in one of the episodes about how nauseating it was to watch the less-than-glamourous, older, overweight woman client kiss a guy who’s also less than model-like. It was a cheap shot, and really offensive to anyone who doesn’t look like they came off a Mattel assembly line. Maybe Kelley’s been married to the undeniably gorgeous Michelle Pfffffff-Pfffffff too long. He’s starting to think everyone looks — or should look — like that.

Even the cast was aware of something in the air. Allegedly disappointed by the direction the show had taken (they had a direction?), Paula Marshall, who played Dana, demanded changes. She quit the agency in “Constitution,” the November 21 episode. Her character’s excuse to exit? Because she found their tactics distasteful. The hook? It was probably the least painful episode yet. And so, in the last few episodes (it was finally put out of our misery for good in December 1999) she was back on the force, but still inexplicably hanging around the agency.

The last few shows weren’t even aired until years later. In Europe.

So, basically a disappointing show from someone capable of so much better.

FROM THE ABC PROMO

  • “In pursuit of truth, justice and a big retainer, savvy Glenn Hall doesn’t let the Constitution interfere with the work of her agency. Most of her investigators agree. Manny Lott is a whiz with mini-cams and mini-mics and loves a woman in a mini-skirt. He also carries a mini-tranquilizer gun and will likely shoot if you annoy him. Roberta Young is prone to brazen deeds like stealing a deadbeat dad’s toupee and holding it in “escrow” until he forks over child support. Glenn’s newest recruit is former police detective Dana Plant, who is a brilliant, by-the-book sleuth . . . water to Glenn’s oil. This dynamic duo takes Los Angeles by storm so that no one gets away with murder. Conflicts and quirks aside, the private detectives of Glenn Hall, Inc., share a common bond: these Snoops don’t let go until they’ve sniffed out the facts.”

EVIDENCE

  • “So that’s why you brought me here–TO WAX ME?”
    — Glenn, to serial killer who wants to turn her into a mannequin. Possibly the funniest line in the entire show. I hope it was intended to be.
  • Roberta (trying to reason with Manny): “Look, Manny…
    Manny: “Don’t Manny me!”
  • In episode 2, Glenn wears twin nipple cams to get the goods on the bad guy. At least they keep abreast of all the latest technology.
  • “All of our breasts are real. That’s all I’m saying”
    — Paula Marshall, on ABC’s web site, promoting the show. Evidently, she hadn’t seen episode 2 yet.
  • “I’d like to have a pair of eyes in there.”
    — Manny, trying to convince a client to wear the nipple cams to catch her husband, who’s suspected of sawing her mother in half, holding up a black lace bra.

TELEVISION

  • SNOOPS
    (1999, ABC)
    Created by David E. Kelley
    Writers: David E. Kelley, Hart Hanson, Alfonsett Moreno, Molly Newman, Michael Greene, Paul Guyot, Rob Thomas, Elizabeth M. Cosin
    Directors: Dennie Gordon, Bethany Rooney, Miguel Artela, Ian Sandes
    Score by Wendy and Lisa
    Co-executive producer: Hart Hanson
    Executive Producer: David E. Kelley
    A David E. Kelley Production in association with Twentieth Century Fox Television
    Starring Gina Gershon as GLENN HALL
    with Paula Marshall as DANA PLANT
    Paula Jai Parker as ROBERTA YOUNG
    and Danny Nucci as MANNY LOTT
    with Edward Kerr as Greg
    Guest stars: Kellie Waymire, Michael Cudlitz, Brandon Douglas, Casey Biggs, H. Richaed Greene, Jacqueline Hahn, Rex Linn, Wendy Gazelle,

    • “Pilot” (September 26, 1999)
    • “Singer in the Band” (October 3, 1999)
    • “Bedfellas” (October 10, 1999)
    • “Strange Bedfellas” (October 10, 1999)
    • “Higher Calling” (October 17, 1999)
    • “The Heartless Bitch” (October 24, 1999)
    • “Separation Anxiety” (October 31, 1999)
    • “Constitution” (Novembber 21, 1999)
    • “True Believers” (Novembber 28, 1999)
    • “The Grinch” (December 12, 1999)
    • “A Criminal Mind” (December 19, 1999)
    • “Blood Lines”
    • “The Stolen Diskette” (“Slipped Disc”)
    • “Swan Chant” (aka “Swann Song”))
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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