18 February 2006 | estabansmythe
Talk about fun!
To anyone who craves wit, style, atmosphere and actors truly enjoying their roles, "Nero Wolfe" is pert-near unbeatable.
Each episode crackles with wit and style thanks to writers such as that lovely former "Soap" actress, Jennifer Salt. Each and every actor has a riotous time chewing up every available inch of scenery in delightful fashion!
It's such a joy watching the brilliant, blustery and rotund Maury Chaykin huff and puff his way through each script as he deduces "who done it."
And Bill Smitrovich, who was so good as the dad who is forced to change with the times in the terrific mini-series "The '60s," is a dandy foil for Chaykin, matching bluster for bluster, huff for huff, puff for puff with the master detective as Inspector Kramer.
Series star/Executive Producer and sometime director Timothy Hutton, son of Jim Hutton (who was terrific as TV's mystery writing detective "Ellery Queen" from 1975-76), is masterful as Wolfe's street-wise, dame -chasing flirt & right hand man, Archie Goodwin, who does all Wolfe's leg work.
Colin Cox is essential as Wolfe's personal gourmet chef, Fritz. To watch Fritz and Wolfe kibbitz in the kitchen over even the most minute details of each and every delectable meal is to be royally entertained by two outstanding actors.
R.D. Reid as the abrasive police Sergeant who truly hates Wolfe and especially Archie, and Conrad Dunn as Saul Panzer, another street-wise shamus occasionally employed by Wolfe are also memorable.
What's so cool - and unique to my experience - about this series is that its ensemble cast of regulars, including the stupendous Kari Matchett, James Tolkan, George Plimpton, Saul Rubinek, Francie Swift, David Schurmann, and others.
But what's unique about "Nero Wolfe's" use of these ensemble actors is that they portray different characters each week. And they do it in such a way that, when watching, you never recall their last character the last time you saw them. They are usually vastly different from appearance to appearance. This adds to the fun.
There's really nothing wrong with Angela Lansbury's "Murder, She Wrote" or even Andy Griffith's "Matlock" or Dick Van Dyke's "Prescrition: Murder." They are fun entertaining time fillers. But they aren't even on the same planet wit-wise, creativity-wise, script-wise, acting-wise, atmosphere-wise or any other wise.
In many ways,"Nero Wolfe" is too good for television.