Nero Wolfe (2001)

A&E (ended 2002)


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Nero Wolfe (2001) Fan Reviews (5)

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out of 10
113 votes
  • Some of the cases of Nero Wolfe, the fat, lazy, arrogant private eye with a love of orchids, routines and fine food. Although the show is named after him, his assistant Archie Goodwin is just as important, being the leg man and brawn of Wolfe's brain.

    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.
  • This is, I believe, the only program based on books that actually follows the books 95% or more. The characters match, the plots match, and even the dialogue matches.

    Rex Stout's books were wonderful, and this is not the first time they've attempted to bring them to another medium--radio, movies, and television have all been tried--but this is far and away the best effort. Clearly, the writers, directors, and actors knew and loved Stout's series.

    Oh, there are a few flaws. Maury Chaykin's Nero Wolfe bellows far too much. I didn't like the fact that they turned the dignified Fritz Brenner more or less into comic relief. And Conrad Dunn is far too cute for Saul Panzer, whom Archie Goodwin once described as having a nose that could only be accounted for on the theory that a nose is all a face needs. (Apart from that, however, Conrad Dunn did a superb job, and I find I don't mind the cuteness at all.)

    Timothy Hutton's Archie Goodwin blows all other contenders out of the water. The most perfect casting I have ever seen. All the actors worked hard at their roles, and some did so well that you had to look twice to recognize them, because they looked so different from the role they played last week.

    The period decor was also marvelous, the only flaw there being that all the vintage vehicles out on the streets looked as though they had just come from a wash and wax.

    I find it quite interesting (and a touch eerie) that Timothy Hutton's father, Jim Hutton, at just about the same age, played in another excellent period mystery, "Ellery Queen", which was also sadly canceled ahead of its time.

    Cancelling this show had to be the most idiotic thing A & E has ever done. PFUI!
  • Other than some early extra bellowing from Chaykin, perfect...

    Maury Chaykin? Never heard of him, until I saw him in this version of Nero Wolfe, as the title character. Other than some early excessive bellowing, he was letter perfect - and he not only knew what "rodomontade" meant, he could pronounce it properly.

    Timothy Hutton? Saw him in "Ordinary People", saw him in Nero Wolfe as Archie Goodwin, saw him nail it perfectly - I wish I could be him .

    Bill Smitrovich? Colin Fox? Conrad Dunn? As Inspector Cramer, Fritz Brenner, and Saul Panzer, respectively, they were all but perfect.

    Set design and costuming was retro late 40's through mid-50's - and was simply marvelous.

    It did not merit cancellation, and should be revived with the same cast.
  • Detective Nero Wolfe solves mysteries with the help of his trusty sidekick, Archie Goodwin. Sarcastic and clever to a fault, the two make the perfect crime-fighting pair.

    This adaptation of Rex Stout's novels ran for two seasons--all too briefly. Maury Chaykin was perfectly appropriate as the grumbling but dedicated sleuth of the title, and Timothy Hutton stellar as his loyal backup, Archie, who did the actual 'running around and talking to people' bit.

    Wolfe would hear the goods from a client, send Archie out into the world to look at the crime scene and interview the central parties, then hear his report and suss out the truth from home. Obsessed with food and flowers, temperamental and borderline agoraphobic, Wolfe could be a singularly challenging man to deal with, but together he and Goodwin always found the truth and brought offenders to justice. You might need some ice water after meeting Wolfe, but he and his colleague would never let you down.

    A wonderful show as much fun as the books from which it hails. When people say 'a rattling good yarn,' this is what they mean.
  • An immensely entertaining and colorful show that has perhaps the best of everything....except Rayguns.

    Cheap jokes, tired storylines, silly plots, average run of the mill ideas, and phone it in acting.
    Many shows have lasted long with one or more of these negatives in it, but in Nero Wolfe, all are absent. Instead we have just the opposite.

    This made for A&E series is based on the Nero Wolfe novels, which were written over 4 decades by Rex Stout(The first Nero Wolfe story appeared in the 1930s, and the last one penned by Stout was in 1975, the year he passed. Another author took over afterwards, but none of those stories were adapted).

    Nero Wolfe is not your typical Detective, and therefore this isn't your typical show.

    Originally from Montenegro, Wolfe is large, selfish, and lazy. He lives in a fine New York Brownstone, has a gormet chef, and has a strict schedule that only the most extreme circumstances will cause him to alter.
    He spends 4 hours a day up in his plant room, Business is NEVER to be talked about during meals, he rarely leaves his home (and then only for personal reasons, never business) and he'd much rather read than do actual work (He's said as much on several occasions, but he needs to work in order to make money, and he needs a lot of money to live as he is accustomed).

    He's eccentric, but he's also a genius, as his assistant/man of action and narrator of the tales, Detective Archie Goodwin (Timothy Hutton) explains.

    This series is a period piece, set in the 50s and 60s, with dialogue, wardrobe and locations to match the time. It is also very entertaining, with both drama and humor to move the stories along.

    Also, one of the more interesting aspects is that while the main cast is always the same, many of the same actors reappear show, after show in different roles (specific to the particular case).

    Timothy Hutton as the wise cracking suave yet accomplished gumshoe is a joy to watch. Muary Chakin is a perfect Wolfe, interesting to watch when his genius is a work, and a gas when he is riled.

    All in all, this series may in fact be art, but it sure delivers entertainment to me.
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