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Nero Wolfe: The Complete First Season

4.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Timothy Hutton, Maury Chaykin, Colin Fox, Bill Smitrovich, R.D. Reid
  • Directors: Timothy Hutton, Holly Dale, John L'Ecuyer, Neill Fearnley
  • Writers: Janet Roach, Lee Goldberg, Michael Jaffe, Rex Stout
  • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, DVD-Video, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: eOne Films
  • Release Date: July 27 2004
  • Run Time: 600 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B00029NKS8
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Rex Stout's novels and novellas have finally sprung to life, and here are eight of the finest for us to enjoy, perfectly cast, acted, and directed.
Nero Wolfe (Maury Chaykin) has often been called the American Sherlock Holmes, though he actually takes after Sherlock's older brother, Mycroft. Wolfe is an enormous sedentary genius with a penchant for fine food, orchids, and books (in that order), and a distaste for work. He loves his routine, and never leaves his Manhattan townhouse on business if he can help it. To help with the food, he employs a Swiss gourmet chef, Fritz Brenner (Colin Fox). To help with the business, he employs Archie Goodwin (Timothy Hutton).
Archie, the narrator of both Stout's books and the series, is Wolfe's complement and factotum. A licensed private detective himself, he not only does all the legwork (often assisted by freelance operatives Saul Panzer (Conrad Dunn), Fred Durkin (Fulvio Cecere), and Orrie Cather (Trent McMullen)), but also badgers Wolfe into doing his "genius" part. Suave, cute, witty, charming, ebullient, confident, and very attractive, Archie takes more after Sherlock: He loves to work. (Though of course, he also knows how to play.)
This series is truly a delight. Each episode stands on its own as an entertaining, exquisite work of art. The attention to detail is remarkable. Each frame is a painting; each line is music to my ears (and many are quotable). The actual music (ranging from Jazz to Classical) always fits the setting, and is expertly recorded under the direction of Michael Small.
The actors above (and Bill Smitrovich as Inspector Cramer and R.D. Reid as Sgt. Purley Stebbins both of Manhattan Homicide) fit their characters the way Jeremy Brett fit Sherlock Holmes. It's a pleasure to spend time with them.
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I read books for entertainment and am not one well versed in criticism. I got hooked on Wolfe years ago while travelling a lot. I would haunt used book stores searching for volumes I did not have. What a thrill when I found another one. I even bought his cook book. The griddle cakes were magnificent.
I missed the series on A&E, not having cable, and felt that similar thrill when I saw the series DVDs on Amazon. I bought the 1st year. I set the stage: dim lights, popcorn (with buck-wheat honey & butter to taste), my feet up and my sweetheart in Tennessee. I pushed play, and was thrilled with what I saw. The casting was right on. Wolfe, of course, had to be right or the whole effect would have been lost. He was. Archie is a little thin, at least according to my imagination, but the whole experience of the first episode left me completely satisfied. Were some of the mannerisms not quite right? Not that I could see, nor would I care. It was great entertainment.
I'm buying year two.
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Most television adaptations of iconic mystery sleuths are faithful to the source material but the casting is usually the problem, but it is the opposite here--Chaykin and Hutton are well cast and the basic mystery plot is followed but, and I'll blame all the following to Hutton, as from the credits, he seems to be the creative impetus behind this series, there are some issues I have which outweigh any positives--for one, the decision was made to use a static cast of actors (i.e.: James Tolkin) who change characters every episode, like some sort of theater rep company--you may see an occasional guest star, such as Carrie Fisher, but due to this constant acting "troupe", the effect is intrusive and not a little pretentious--another problem is altho I have said the main roles are well-cast, the portrayals are not well-done--the forces behind the series have seemed to forgotten that Wolfe was well-travelled and schooled in life (and skinny!) before settling down to a sedentary life--as one of the Amazon reviews describes him in this portrayal, "a man-child"--a "BOY-MAN?!" Granted, making a portrayal based on the books/stories is difficult at best, but Chaykin has either been coached or on his own decided to play Wolfe as some sort of petulant innocent with an overinflated ego, brain and waistline, while sacrificing his knowledge of the outside world and the vagaries of man as seen in the writings--therefore, this leaves plenty of acting room for Hutton's Goodwin to belittle (vice badger) and humiliate (vice needle) Chaykin's Wolfe constantly through the series--for these reasons alone I cannot recommend this series as definitive adaptations but will label it as a noble failure and still await the next and, I hope, more successful effort.Read more ›
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This series was a joy to watch. Well written, well executed and infused with the spirit of the books. Like one of the other reviewers, I was hooked on the books (also wonderful) after seeing the series.
Nero Wolfe is unique (to my experience, anyway) in that the big brained, Holmesian dectective isn't really the main character, certainly isn't the main voice, and neither wants, nor expects, to be liked. Instead, Archie Goodwin, the snappy dressing, wise cracking legman, is the true protaganist. As one author put it, "These aren't Nero Wolfe mysteries -- they're Archie Goodwin mysteries!"
And this truly rich chemistry, which makes the books so wonderful, really comes out in the series. You get to wander the 1940s (and 50s and 60s) streets with Archie, savoring the snappy fashions and even snappier patter as he gumshoes his way deep into the plot. Then you get to follow him home to the brownstone and be as annoyed by Nero's arrogance and petty habits as he is. But it always takes both of them, incredibly brilliant in their own unique way, to solve the insolvable.
One note about the actors performances, however: the performances are wonderful, especially those of the lead characters, but the actors performing secondary roles do show up in other episodes, usually playing someone new. After I got used to it, I thought it was brilliant -- it's like watching a small theatre group performing a new play each week. If I were an actor, I coudn't imagine a tv role that could possibly be more fun. But I freely admit trying to keep track of the characters really threw me for a loop at first.
On the whole -- wonderful. If you love cozies and locked room mysteries, you'll love this. If you love Sherlock Holmes and unsolvable puzzles, you'll love this.
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