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Nero Wolfe: The Complete First Season

Timothy Hutton , Maury Chaykin , Timothy Hutton , Holly Dale    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Whole �Seventh of a Ton� Is Here June 2 2004
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Nero Wolfe Lives! Sept. 24 2010
Occasionally, but all-too rarely, one comes across a movie or television series that is cast absolutely perfectly: one thinks of Sean Connery as James Bond, David Suchet as Hercule Poirot, Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes. All too often especially in the TV arena, such inspirations are British. The Nero Wolfe series admirably demonstrates that Americans (with the help of more Canadian actors than you can shake a stick at) can do it too! The late great Maury Chaykin WAS Nero Wolfe! The supporting cast is wonderful, every single one of them. The teleplays are faithful to the books. The series is a treasure. The only thing to be regretted is that there were only two seasons of it. I'm glad I bought them both.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I loved the books; I love the series Sept. 12 2005
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Rex Stout would be proud July 17 2004
If you like the books you will enjoy watching this series. Entertaining and faithful Rex Stout's unique writting style. I just wish A&E had continued adapting the books to film
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2.0 out of 5 stars Unsatisfactory. July 11 2004
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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