14 June 2002 | smokskren
A superb and faithful rendering of an old friend -
I have read every Nero Wolfe book printed and own most of them. I have been reading about the undertakings of the great Nero Wolfe and his right-hand man, Archie Goodwin, since I was in school. It was with great trepidation that I viewed this series; fully expecting to see miscast characters, loss of the very meticulous detail which makes the books so enticing, and a total loss of plot. I was genuinely and wonderfully surprised to find that my expectations were way off the mark.
I could not have cast the characters better had I been permitted to choose them myself. I have been casting these characters in my mind since I started reading the books. I chose Raymond Burr for the part of Nero Wolfe, and although I do believe he would have done the part justice I sincerely do not believe he could have done a better presentation than Mr Chaykin. I was never able cast Archie's part in my mind to any satisfaction and when I read that Timothy Hutton would be playing the part I thought that was a serious error. However as it turns out Mr Hutton plays a perfect Archie. I am at a loss for words to describe why he is so fitted to the character. He looks like Archie, he acts like Archie - he simply is Archie.
The detail that the series has managed to preserve is amazing. If you've read the books you are familiar with the red leather chair and the yellow leather chairs and who gets which and when! Not only are the chairs brought to life, the elevator, the decor, the orchids, Fritz in all of his self righteousness, Wolfe's pushing in & out of his lips, the froth on the beer, the milk, the typewriter....the adherence to the novels is outstanding!! This show feels familiar the first time you watch it.
As it turns out my estimation on the probability of the plots falling apart was also unfounded. The plots are not compromised. We are not shorted a good run down of the clues. I have yet to find a question unanswered. Another wonderful adaptation.
This series has also taken a fairly unique approach to casting the supporting roles in that with the exception of the recurring roles of Wolfe, Goodwin, Fritz, Saul, Orrie, Fred, Cramer and perhaps one or two other minor characters all of the supporting cast appear to be made up of the same actors every week. For example, Christine Brubaker has shown her wide range of acting capability playing parts from a night club singer to a newspaper columnist. This concept not only impresses the audience with the amount of talent but also adds to the feeling that this series is an old friend who has returned for another treasured visit.
I would highly recommend this series to anyone. If you've read the books, I promise that you will not be disappointed. If you have not read the novels then you will be introduced to some of the most complex, human and entertaining characters you will ever meet.
A+ to all involved.