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Nero Wolfe - The Complete First Season (2001)

Timothy Hutton , Maury Chaykin , Timothy Hutton , Holly Dale  |  NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Timothy Hutton, Maury Chaykin, Colin Fox, James Tolkan, Marian Seldes
  • 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, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: A&E Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: July 27, 2004
  • Run Time: 600 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00029NKS8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,659 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Nero Wolfe - The Complete First Season" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Eight episodes on three discs

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Nero Wolfe brought Rex Stout's eccentric private investigator and his dapper legman, Archie Goodwin, into a jaunty and irreverent detective series for cable channel A&E in the spring of 2001 (following the broadcast of a pilot episode in 2000). The Complete First Season includes all the pleasures and surprises of the show's first mysteries, above all the tempestuous, symbiotic, and highly entertaining relationship between Wolfe (Maury Chaykin), a corpulent recluse who grows orchids and analyzes clues from a distance, and the acerbic knight-errant, Goodwin (Timothy Hutton, also an executive producer on the series), Wolfe's underpaid eyes and ears on the world. Set (more or less) in the late 1940s/early 1950s, Nero Wolfe finds these antithetic partners cracking tough cases and refusing to bow to authority, power, or wealth.

The set begins with the complex, two-part "The Doorbell Rang" (directed by Hutton). A demanding heiress (Debra Monk) offers an enormous retainer to Wolfe, a high-living epicurean always in need of money, to prove her dubious claim that the FBI is harassing her. Once Wolfe takes the job, a murder is committed, and Archie hits the streets in search of answers. Hutton also directs the two-part "Champagne for One" with a snap and verve reminiscent of old Howard Hawks comedies, but it is on "Prisoner's Base" that all of the series' best elements are firing at once: Chaykin's performance as a prideful, narcissistic boy-man genius, Hutton's sleek heroics, and a tone largely more optimistic than the grave determinism of much detective fiction. The excellent "Eeny Meeny Murder Moe" finds the thin-skinned Wolfe apoplectic when a client is murdered in the sleuth's own brownstone, and worlds tumble when Archie discovers Wolfe might have a long-lost adopted daughter in "Over My Dead Body." All in all, Nero Wolfe refreshes the television detective genre. --Tom Keogh

Product Description

Maury Chaykin, Timothy Hutton. Finally, a fully realized adaptation of Rex Stout's classic detective novels! Nero Wolfe is a reclusive crime-solving Manhattanite who teams up with Archie Goodwin, the street-smart legman who gathers the clues for Wolfe to put together. Join the unlikely crime-fighting pair as they tackle mysteries straight from the pages of The Doorbell Rang," Champagne for One," The Christmas Party," Over My Dead Body," Door to Death" and more. 13 episodes on 3 DVDs. 2001/color/12 hrs/NR/fullscreen.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
137 of 138 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nirvana in detective land July 27, 2004
Verified Purchase
I have been a fan of Rex Stout for a long, long time. One reason I often dislike seeing books made into movies, or at least feel the movie pales when compared to the books, because often people see things differently. So when a beloved set of characters such as Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin is brought to film, I automatically cringe, because I am rarely pleased with the results. They tried in the late 70's with Thayer David playing Wolfe and Tom Mason as Archie. Excellent casting, but was a little late. Thayer David, a Sydney Greenstreet type actor, was perfect casting for Wolfe - the 1/7 of a ton genius detective that detects while never leaving him home. Only David was already ill, dying of cancer, so the weight loss and lacking of strength sadly hurt his performance. Later it was redone with William Conrad as Wolfe and too sexy Lee Horsely as Archie. Sorry, the series had Wolfe pacing when expounding to suspects and sitting on the corner of his desk. It made you wonder if the writers ever read Stout's books. So, when

Timothy Hutton stepped into Archie's shoes I had mixed reservations. I love Hutton, son of the brilliant Jim Hutton. While you see a lot of his daddy in him, he is definitely his own man, and cuts a smart style when fleshing out his roles.

So I thought, okay, he would make a good Archie. Then I wondered what about Wolfe? They cast Maury Chaykin. Brilliant! Wow, someone actually loved the books enough to follow them.

A&E is to be commended in letting Hutton run with the series for two seasons. They are to be CONDEMNED for canceling it because they deemed it too expensive to make. Shame on them! The series was a class act all the way. A delightful ensemble cast who changed roles episode to episode gave it a theatre feel.
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86 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Champagne for all who produced this series August 14, 2004
Verified Purchase
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.
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58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A memorable, quirky ride March 24, 2005
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.
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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good
Published 1 day ago by go su!
5.0 out of 5 stars Nero Wolf, the gentleman detective, first stage play adaptation
I have to confess. The only Rex Stout Nero Wolf novel I ever read was published in the Saturday Evening Post when I was about 12 and was just starting to read a lot of adult... Read more
Published 1 month ago by J. C. Danko
5.0 out of 5 stars Dramatizations of the Rex Stout Stories
This was an excellent series. The performers were believable, and the storylines were true to the Books. I much enjoy playing a show a night. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Randal W. Howard
5.0 out of 5 stars love the actors, the colors and the stories
great acting
bright colors and great music
great writing
based on good stories and not changed much if at all
Published 3 months ago by Douglas K Seaver
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done in all respects
These are just beautiful, great acting, the ideal look for their time period, very true to the books, humor along with good mysteries...
Published 3 months ago by Agnes Augustus
5.0 out of 5 stars Nero Wolfe
Probably one of the greatest detective shows ever presented on TV, smart, intelligent, cheeky and well written and acted. Well worth watching.
Published 3 months ago by Bruno J. Bischoff
5.0 out of 5 stars Nero Wolfe - They don't make 'em like that anymore!
Most enjoyable series ever! I have both seasons and I wish they would have continued. Maury Chaykin and Timothy Hutton make an excellent pair. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Walter Holzhueter
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed the series
I remember this series from many years ago and am really enjoying it again. It is a light "who done it" type of movie.
Published 4 months ago by Unknown
5.0 out of 5 stars Really, really good
Elegant reconstruction of the novels and novellas. Highly recommended. The Wolfe character is right on, the Archie character adequate, and the ensemble acting is superb...
Published 5 months ago by Rodrick Wallace
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great series from Start to Finish
I have been a fan of Rex Stout's books for years and this series is the best representation of his work to date. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Michael
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