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Nero Wolfe: The Complete First Season

4.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

Price: CDN$ 290.89
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Product Details

  • Actors: Timothy Hutton, Maury Chaykin, Bill Smitrovich, Saul Rubinek, Colin Fox
  • 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: 1
  • 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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One of the smartest and wittiest shows on television. Based on the novels of the late Rex Stout, the Nero Wolfe mysteries that ran for two seasons on A&E are simply tremendous. Usually, I read a book, and then critique the movie or TV adaption of it. In this case, watching the show caused me to read the books! The screenwriters did a remarkable job of keeping the essence, tone and feel of the books, while making adapting it for television. Much of the dialogue is directly quoted from the novel (or novelette) that the episode is based on.
The genius of Rex Stout's work is that he combined the classic American hardboiled private eye (Mike Hammer, Sam Spade) with the intellectual British style of sleuth (Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, Poirot). Bringing these characters of Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe to the small screen was a labor of love for Timothy Hutton, and I for one am thankful for his work. The repertory style group of guest stars was another unique aspect to this series, where the same group of guest actors would play different characters each week, sometimes villians and sometimes victims. The quality of acting is top notch. The banter between Wolfe and Archie is a real treat to watch, and Hutton's version of Archie is so convincing, that I hear his voice when I read Stout's novels.
A word to parents, this is intelligent, well-written drama/adventure that the whole family can enjoy. The "curses" of choice are "Nuts!" and "Flummery!" - nothing worse. While there are murders, we do not see the murders happen, and there is no gore seen. Also, despite Archie being a ladies man, there is no overt sexuality. Sadly, as with many 'failed' shows today, it was probably too intelligent for the average viewer used to equating 'shock value' and 'crassness' with entertainment.
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It's easy to see why this show lasted just two seasons... the production values are so high that each episode must have cost a fortune, A&E featured it on Sunday's--always a tough night for prime time--and it simply wasn't advertised adequately. Outside the regular A&E audience no one had even heard of this show, much less been educated in how great Nero Wolfe really is.
If you watch Monk I would guess you'd like this show as well. Both take serious situations--murders--and allow colorful, interesting characters do the investigating, totally escaping the redundant and melodramatic "ripped from the headlines" mysteries depicted in countless derivative programs on even the most prominant networks. Oh, and those twists you like so much if you watch Law and Order or the Practice... Nero Wolfe often has those as well, better ones even.
Nero Wolfe, like Monk, is classy television. Every frame shot and every word spoken oozes with creativity, and the result is a fun, light-hearted, and intelligent murder mystery every time. In short, its about a shut-in, obese, extremely proud, and utterly brilliant private detective (Nero Wolfe, played by Maury Chaykin), and his clever, resourceful, and oddly loyal leg man Archie Goodwin (Timothy Hutton), and their combined effort to solve murder mysteries for a fee (Wolfe is well off, and it's easy to see why). I say oddly loyal because frankly they have almost nothing in commmon. For instance: Nero hates women, he barely tolerates them, but Archie is the quintessential ladies-man. Nevertheless, the relationship between them is very special, and their exchanges are priceless. Such an accomplishment is a credit to the writers and performers. Making that relationship work--every episode, mind you--was a formidable task.
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