Unlike the earlier series in the eighties, this show sticks closely to the books and works all the better for it. The convoluted plots and the sparring dialogue are not dumbed down for the audience, and the rich details of the main characters - not just Wolfe and Archie but Cramer, Fritz and the three hired detectives on the side - give this series depth and style. As in the books, nothing changes as far as time with the two detectives goes - even though the outside world ages from the early forties into the sixties, they remain the same.
Wolfe as played by Chaykin is generally spot on; verbose, eloquant, disliking people and so lazy he works only when he has to to pay for his orchids. At times Chaykin goes too blustery, but never so much I can't forgive him.
Hutton's Archie is suave, lively, a smart alec and equally happy to insult Wolfe and woo the ladies. As with the other main actors, it is difficult now to read the books and not see these people as the characters. The minor roles being rotated through regular cast members had both good and bad points: Good in that it was a familiar bunch and good to see them in differing roles; Bad in that with episodes over two days you could sometimes confuse them with a previous episode. The main unfortunate thing is that the series was cancelled when there were so many other good stories left to film - I would love to have seen the Arnold Zeck trilogy (the Moriarty to Wolfe)being filmed.
Not all the episodes were great but in general I would say this series was more than satisfactory.