A Nero Wolfe Mystery: Season 1, Episode 1

The Doorbell Rang (22 Apr. 2001)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Drama | Mystery
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A eccentric millionairess believes she is being followed, bugged, and generally harassed by the FBI and offers Wolfe $100,000 to get them off her back.



(teleplay), (novel)
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Title: The Doorbell Rang (22 Apr 2001)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Mrs. Rachel Bruner
Colin Fox ...
Special Agent In Charge Richard Wragg
Sarah Dacos
Trent McMullen ...
Timothy Quayle
Nicky Guadagni ...
Mrs. Ivana Althaus
Marian Hinckley
R.D. Reid ...


Idiosyncratic millionairess Mrs Rachel Brunner is sure that the FBI is bugging, following, and generally harassing her because she bought 10,000 copies of an infamous book criticizing J. Edgar Hoover and his organization and distributed them by mail to friends. During the course of their investigation Archie and Nero uncover a murder for which a G-man may or may not be guilty. Nero contrives to entrap the Bureau into a compromising situation in order to get them to cease and desist in their actions against the eccentric Mrs. Brunner. Written by Gabe Taverney (duke1029@aol.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Action | Drama | Mystery



Release Date:

22 April 2001 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


As requested, Fritz brings Sarah Dacos a Sidecar. A Sidecar is a drink made with fresh squeezed lemon juice, Cointreau, and cognac or brandy, resulting in a very pale yellow drink. The Sidecar Fritz serves Sarah is dark brown, not pale yellow. See more »


[first lines]
Archie: [narrating] Since it was the deciding factor, I might as well begin by describing it. It was a pink slip of paper three inches wide and seven inches long, and it told the First National City Bank to pay to the order of Nero Wolfe fifty thousand dollars. Signed, Rachel Bruner, the widow of Lloyd Bruner. At least eight of the several dozen buildings Bruner left his wife were more than twelve stories high.
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Features My Hero (1952) See more »


In the Swing
Written by Alan Moorhouse
KPM 91:20
Archie obtains a handwriting sample from Mrs. Bruner
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User Reviews

The Best Version of Wolfe So Far
30 June 2001 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Fans of mysteries (book or film) break into several political camps, prominent among which are the Chain of Reasoning group vs. the Hard-Boiled party. While the puzzle aspect is present in both, it takes on possibly more importance in the Chain of Reasoning, where clues are examined through deductive reasoning, as opposed to the knock-on-doors, grind-it-out Hard-Boiled method. (You can probably guess which camp I prefer.) Typical of CoR would be Poirot and Miss Marple; Hard-Boiled is exemplified by Spenser and any standard cop show.

A pleasant cross-pollination is Nero Wolfe, with its eccentric, heavyset genius and his wise-cracking assistant, Archie Goodwin, both created by author Rex Stout. Wolfe, according to Goodwin (the voice in the Wolfe books and this TV-movie), weighs a seventh of a ton (English, not metric), refuses to shake hands, feels himself capable of ordering the New York Police around at his whim, charges exorbitant fees, and is an absolute genius. He refuses to leave his brownstone house except on the most urgent of business; he has the suspects brought to him, believe it or not, usually by Archie, assisted (grumpily) by Homicide Detective Inspector Cramer. And it works!

Six recreations of Wolfe and Archie are on record in IMDb. The most recent, Maury Chaykin is excellent as Wolfe, if perhaps a little more human than Wolfe was written in the books by Rex Stout. However, a character who is nominally the hero of a story has to be made sympathetic if the viewer will accept them. Chaykin not only has the requisite skill, he also has the needed girth, bluster and general facial appearance of a Wolfe. Opposite him, Timothy Hutton plays Archie; he gives a most satisfactory portrayal of the wisecracking, completely competent Goodwin.

The story is straight from what is probably Rex Stout's most famous novel, and for justifiable reasons. In "The Doorbell Rang," Wolfe is engaged by a client for $50,000 -- retainer! -- to get the FBI off her back, where they have been unjustifiably hanging. The only way to do that, understandably, is to somehow hang J. Edgar Hoover's FBI up by the heels in a dry wind.... The book was set in the 1960s; Hutton (the executive producer and director as well as Goodwin) chooses to set it in the Fifties, for the more colorful styles. The supporting cast is excellent in their various characters, and the script is quite faithful to Stout's book. But does Wolfe pull it off? Well, that's for you to discover (heh, heh....) The show was the first in a series on A&E, so watch the others, and watch for this one (or buy the tape, of course). As Wolfe would say, it is most satisfactory.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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