A Nero Wolfe Mystery – The Doorbell Rang

by Alan Rapp on July 10, 2018

in Television Reviews 

  • Title: A Nero Wolfe Mystery – The Doorbell Rang
  • IMDb: link

“Does she lie?”

A Nero Wolfe Mystery - The Doorbell Rang TV review

Today’s Throwback Tuesday post takes us back to the mid 20th Century New York and the private detective offices located at 454 W. 35th Street. Adapted from Rex Stout‘s original mysteries, A Nero Wolfe Mystery ran for two seasons on A&E. With a small set cast and recurring actors filling in various different roles from week to week, it quickly became one the highest rated and most critically acclaimed series on the cable network. The first episode of the series, adapted Stout’s novel The Doorbell Rang, finds Nero Wolfe (Maury Chaykin) hired by Mrs. Rachel Bruner (Debra Monk) who offers the detective an exorbitant amount of money to pressure the FBI from any further harassment. Over the course of the investigation, Wolfe’s legman Archie Goodwin (Timothy Hutton) would uncover a recent murder which may or may not involve the FBI and will allow Wolfe to fulfill the obligations of his contract and close an unsolved case for the New York Police Department as well.

Directed and narrated by Hutton, the show gets off to a tremendous start. While an early TV-movie worked as a proof of concept, the cast and crew hit the on cylinders here that wastes no time in introducing the armchair detective, the plucky Archie, and establishing the pair’s rapport. The standouts of the episode, other than the terrific look and pace of the episode that would become the series’ trademark, are Francie Swift as Mrs. Bruner’s secretary who knows far more than she’s saying and the unusual circumstances that force Inspector Cramer (Bill Smitrovich) to help the troublesome detectives. There’s also an elaborate rouse to trick the FBI into giving Wolfe the leverage he needed to fulfill his contract with Mrs. Bruner. If the epilogue feels a bit too cute, the rest succeeds marvelously.

jon July 10, 2018 at 2:45 pm


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