A Nero Wolfe Mystery – Christmas Party

by Alan Rapp on June 13, 2019

in Television Reviews 

  • Title: A Nero Wolfe Mystery – Christmas Party
  • IMDb: link

A Nero Wolfe Mystery - Christmas Party TV review

Today’s Throwback Thursday post takes us back to mid 20th Century New York and the private detective offices located at 454 W. 35th Street. Making terrific use of Francie Swift, who so perfectly fits the role as fatale in the show’s setting, “Christmas Party” is one of my favorite episodes of the series in which Archie (Timothy Hutton) is able to put one over on his boss and Nero Wolfe (Maury Chaykin) makes an out-of-character mistake that puts them both in the middle of a murder investigation. Invited to a Christmas party by his sometimes dancing partner Margot Dickey (Swift) who plans to use Archie (and the fake marriage licence he was able to procure) as a needed push to get her boss (Robert Bockstael) to marry her, Archie is front-and-center when their host drops dead of poison. So is Nero Wolfe, disguised as the party’s Santa Claus in order to get a good look at the woman Archie has informed his boss he plans to wed.

With quite a bit of set-up and the back-and-forth between Archie and Wolfe, first in Archie goading him with the fake licenses and later Archie putting Nero in the client chair to discuss the night’s events, only about half the episode is really about solving the mystery. With plenty of suspects among the victim’s employees including Margot’s rival Cherry Quon (M.J. Kang), who alone knows about Wolfe’s attendance at the party, it still doesn’t take detective long to get a handle on the case and expose the murderer through an elaborate charade that makes use of the unintentional support of Inspector Cramer (Bill Smitrovich). Archie knows his boss’ methods all too well not to see the investigation will lead them but the truth still cuts deep.

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