Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Nero Wolfe - The Complete First Season|
Actors: Timothy Hutton, Maury Chaykin, Bill Smitrovich, Saul Rubinek, Debra Monk
Directors: Timothy Hutton, Holly Dale, John L'Ecuyer, Neill Fearnley
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Television, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: A&e Home Video Release Date: 07/27/2004 Run time: 600 minutes Rating: Nr
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Champagne for all who produced this series
E. A. Lovitt | Gladwin, MI USA | 08/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Oscar-winner Timothy Hutton directs several episodes of this sparkling series, as well as taking on the character of jaunty gamecock Archie Goodwin, Private Detective and prime mover of the brilliant (but sometimes disinclined to take on new cases) Nero Wolfe, played by Maury Chaykin.
This first season is salted with murder, two of them occurring in Nero Wolfe's own office. One potential client is strangled with the portly genius's own yellow-silk, barbecue-sauce-stained tie--Archie gets a lot of mileage out of this blunder by his usually meticulous boss. There is very little violence except when Archie is asked to eject a particularly obstreperous client. In fact if I were to pick an overriding emotion that governs these episodes, it is high good humor. Archie's wry voice-overs, Wolfe's eccentric winter get-up in "Door to Death," Fritz's icy but voiceless critique of another butler's champagne-pouring technique in "Champagne for One" are all priceless in-jokes for us Nero Wolfe fanatics. Affection rather than parody governs the characters, even in the minor roles. Occasionally Wolfe and Cramer go over the top with their blustering bad humor, but Archie usually supplies an acerbic course-correction.
The sets and costumes are fashioned with artful, low-key perfection--except for Archie's two-tone shoes. They aren't particularly low-key. But we fans get to see all of the décor that made the books so--well, like comfort food for the brain: the outsized globe and chair in the study; Wolfe's tarpaulin-sized yellow-striped pajamas; Archie's snap-brim fedoras; the soothing presence of Fritz in his kitchen.
If I had a Fritz in my kitchen all would be well with my world.
Apart from major characters, certain actors and actresses show up in multiple episodes. Two of my favorites: Kari Machett plays a series of ditzy, seductive, sometimes unscrupulous, sometimes murdered femme fatales that Archie usually ends up falling for. She brings out his chivalrous best, unless she happens to be the murderess. Boyd Banks is a great well-heeled social parasite or weak-chinned younger son, although he also shows up as an FBI agent in "The Doorbell Rang." He absolutely should have qualified for an Emmy for his sniveling, groveling, but absurdly cheerful Dinky Byne in "Champagne for One."
Nero Wolfe fans if you don't watch these A&E DVDs then pfui on you. Go ahead and relax into the world's most famous brownstone, where you can practically smell Fritz's Bacalhau (Portuguese Salt Cod) cooking in the kitchen.
A memorable, quirky ride
Robert North | Midwest | 03/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a big fan of the Nero Wolfe series, and have both seasons on DVD. Here's why:
1) Never read the books, so have no basis for being disappointed with the characterizations; this is neither praise nor judgment, just criteria to consider
2) Quirky sense of humor; not hilarious, laugh out loud, but amusing and entertaining
3) Two all out characterizations by Hutton and Chaykin as Archie and Wolfe respectively; Hutton goes a bit far on the odd occasion but still excellent
4) Strong stories; characterizations help prop up the slower parts
5) Good ensemble cast, with many of the same players showing up show after show; some of the actors have a very deliberate style that they carry from character to character, and that can get a bit old, but others do an excellent job; Actors playing Saul Panzer and the newspaper reporter are especially good
6) Set/costume design are terrific, with some interesting use of color and period
7) Some really poignant moments along the way, such as in Prisoner's Base, when Archie has to deal with an error in judgment that has serious ramifications
But I think that one of the best underlying reasons for getting both years of this series is that the entire production feels like a labor of love for all invovled, and you don't find that quality on TV all that often.
I just wish there was a season 3.
High quality entertainment for the serious mysery lover.
Russell Fanelli | Longmeadow, MA USA | 07/31/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Not often can we say that the movie is as good as or better than the book, but in The Doorbell Rang, I think that is the case. Everything about this production is first-rate.
The actors are uniformly excellent, especially Maury Chaykin as Nero Wolfe and Timoth Hutton as Archie Goodwin. This relationship must be just right for the series to work and in this case, the irascible and briliant Wolfe is countered nicely by the wisecracking, dapper, yet tough as nails Archie. Wolfe never leaves the house. He lets Archie gather the clues and put the strong arm on the various assortment of bad guys he meets on the job. Nero and Archie analyze the evidence and Nero plans the next move, always to the amazement of Archie, who holds his boss in the highest esteem, and quite rightly so. Archie is Dr. Watson to Wolfe's Sherlock Holmes.
Next, Timothy Hutton and the rest of the production crew spare no expense to make the background and environment perfect. It feels like we have been brought back in time to the late forties. The clothes, cars, buildings, interiors, hairstyles, and every other small detail are perfectly realized. These details allow us to enter this world in a way that the novel does not permit, hence my preference for the film.
In the novel the FBI is only a background presence, whereas in the film we see the agents in action and watch as Nero Wolfe counters their every move. Nero has taken a case even Archie thinks is unsolvable; that is, to stop the FBI from harassing his rich client. Like Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe is the court of last appeal and he rises to the challenge of a difficult case. Just as in a Holmes mystery, we must pay the closest attention if we are going to understand the train of thought of Wolfe as he analyzes the problem and sets in motion the chain of events that help him solve the case.
These Nero Wolfe stories are high quality entertainment for the serious mystery lover. Hats off to A&E for making them available on DVD."
Faithful to the Books and a Joy to Watch!
David A. Vosseller | Chicago, IL USA | 06/07/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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. But to anyone looking for something more, something that aims higher and brings the viewer up rather than down with it, this is for you!The only thing that keeps me from giving it 5 stars is the lack of any extras on the DVD. A&E continues to give this fine series short shrift to their shame. Get this any way you can!"