A Nero Wolfe Mystery (TV Series 2001–2002) Poster



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  • Not yet: A whopping 3.5 hours of the A&E Nero Wolfe series adapted for networks in more than 50 countries abroad have never been seen in the USA and Canada. A&E Home Video has issued three boxed sets of Nero Wolfe on DVD -- Season One, Season Two, and an eight-disc megaset containing both seasons -- but only with the versions designed to accommodate the A&E Network's shorter time slots and commercials.

    Furthermore, although the entire series was filmed in widescreen, only overseas audiences have been treated to Nero Wolfe in widescreen. With the sole exception of "The Silent Speaker" from Season Two, included in 16:9 letterbox as a "bonus program," all of the episodes reproduced by A&E on DVD for the series' strong home base are in the inferior pan-and-scan format, which lops off the sides of the picture.

    Most of the scenes and partial scenes that were displaced by A&E commercials and not restored for the DVDs are straight from Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe books. These are just a few examples of these priceless gems in the approximately half-hour of cut-for-commercials material: Almost all of Priscilla Eads' Brownstone tour-de-force with Archie and Fritz in "Prisoner's Base"; Fritz's "pie-eyed" scene with Archie in the kitchen in "Eeny"; Wolfe and Cherry Quon's final round in "Christmas Party"; and the 'morning after' scene with Archie and Fritz in "Motherhunt" (The Mother Hunt) -- the concluding chapter of the book.

    The overseas editions of Nero Wolfe are also enriched by three full hours of material created by the show's writers and producers, themselves all longtime Nero Wolfe fans, to take the viewer to places only mentioned or suggested in the books and flesh out characters only sketchily drawn by Stout himself. This material is along the lines of the Flamingo, poker game and Mrs. Cramer scenes in the A&E series that became instant fan favorites. It doubles the length of four episodes: "Poison a la Carte," "The Next Witness," "Before I Die" and "Immune to Murder."

    Representative screenshots of scenes excluded from two episodes of the A&E's Nero Wolfe first appeared on the Web site of The Wolfe Pack organization -- http://www.nerowolfe.org/htm/AE_tv_series/missing_minutes.htm . An expanded display site for scenes from the longer international versions of these and other Nero Wolfe episodes has since been created on Flickr, where screenshots will be added on an ongoing basis as they become available -- http://www.flickr.com/photos/39555894@N00/

    The Flickr display also illustrates the dramatic difference in the widescreen versus full screen Nero Wolfe with side-by-side screenshots of scenes that appear in both the A&E-issued versions, where characters as well as set are chopped off, and the international versions, where viewers see the whole picture. Another screenshot comparison, made from the letterboxed and full screen versions of "The Silent Speaker" on the DVDs, can be seen in Adam Tyner's review of the Nero Wolfe megaset at DVD Talk -- http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/read.php?ID=21386#ws . As Tyner notes, "widescreen framing suits Nero Wolfe exceptionally well." Edit



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