"A Nero Wolfe Mystery" Prisoner's Base: Part 1 (TV Episode 2001) Poster


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  • Pearson Television International, licensed to distribute the A&E Nero Wolfe series outside the U.S. and Canada, produced widescreen episodes for international broadcast. Many episodes also expanded the A&E versions, which were designed to accommodate the network's shorter time slots and commercials. "Prisoner's Base" is the first episode with "missing minutes" -- scenes and partial scenes straight from Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe stories. The novel Prisoner's Base was adapted by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin, and their screenplay was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America.

    Two minutes in length, the first missing scene begins after the young woman we will know as Priscilla Eads says, "The hall's wider than I expected. Shall we go to the office?" Archie follows her.

    Archie: So you've been here before?

    Priscilla: No. A friend of mine was here a long while ago, and then of course I've read about it.

    Archie: Well, in that case Mr. Wolfe will be flattered. Please have a seat.

    Priscilla: Thank you.

    Archie: You're welcome.

    Priscilla: I wouldn't have come if I didn't know a lot about it and about Mr. Wolfe and you. I thought it would be better to tell you about it first because I'm not sure how I'm going to put it to Mr. Wolfe. You see, I'm trying to work something out. I wonder -- do you know what I think I need right now?

    Archie: No. What?

    Priscilla: A Coke and rum with some lime and lots of ice. I don't suppose you have Meyer's?

    Archie: Well, as you probably already know, we have everything.

    [Archie goes to Wolfe's desk and presses the button for Fritz. Fritz enters.]

    Archie: Yes, Fritz, could we have a Coke and rum with lime and lots of ice? Meyer's.

    [Fritz nods and goes.]

    Priscilla: Fritz looks younger than I expected.

    Archie: Yes, listen, it's perfectly fine your having a drink, even a Coke with rum. But if you want me to tell you how to put something to Mr. Wolfe, you'd better start.

    Priscilla: Not until I've had the drink. It's warm in here.

    [She rises and slips off her jacket, moves around the office, gives the globe a spin. Archie watches. Fritz brings her drink on a tray.]

    Fritz: Madam.

    Priscilla: Thank you, Fritz.

    [Fritz shoots a look at Archie and leaves. She takes a couple of sips and moves around the office a bit longer.]

    Priscilla: I'm beginning to get myself together.

    Archie: Good. Good. Don't rush it.

    Priscilla: I won't. I'm not a rusher. I'm a very cautious girl. I've never rushed but one thing in my life, and that one was enough. (then:) Does the door of the south room on the third floor have a bolt on the inside?

    Archie: No. Why, do you think it should?

    Priscilla: Maybe not, but I thought I'd feel better if it had. You see, that's where I want to sleep.

    Archie: Oh, I see, really. That's where you ... huh. For how long?

    Priscilla: For a week. Maybe a day or two more. I know how Nero Wolfe feels about women, so I knew I'd have to see you first.

    Archie: You know, I like gags, and this is a real pip. Tell me, how does it go?

    Priscilla: It's not a gag. For a certain reason, I had to be --

    [The A&E version of the episode picks up with the remainder of Priscilla's line, after she sits down: "I had to go away."]


    The second missing scene (30 seconds) follows Priscilla Eads' stalking out of the office, after refusing to pay Wolfe $10,000 to stay at the brownstone. In the south room, Priscilla quickly packs her bags. Archie stands in the doorway.

    Archie: I wanted to say, you should watch your money, you know? You have plenty. Don't give it to a stranger to hold.

    Priscilla: Sending little sister off to camp?

    Archie: I'm not going to file the brand, number and the name of the taxi or anything like that. I'm not going to promise that I permanently forget your name. I may want to ask you something one day.

    [Priscilla grabs her bags and heads for the door.]

    Archie: So if I don't see you before the 26th, happy birthday. Here --

    [Archie tries to help her with her bags, but Priscilla brushes past him.]

    Priscilla: I've got it.

    Archie: Okay.

    [The A&E version of the episode picks up with Archie entering Wolfe's room the next morning: "Good morning. Fritz said you wanted to see me."]


    In the office, after Priscilla Eads' fate is known, Archie tells Wolfe where their investigation should start. Wolfe refuses to start anything, since they have no client. Archie says, "Okay, I guess I knew how it would be. You realize that I have my personal problem. I put her back out on the street, I put her in the taxi that sent her home and now she got it." Archie prepares to leave. The third scene (one minute) missing from the A&E version continues with Wolfe's response.

    Wolfe: Archie. No man can hold himself accountable for the results of his psychological defects, especially those he shares with all other men, such as lack of omniscience.

    Archie: Well, I can get along without omniscience. What I can't get along with is knowing there's some damn strangler out there that's grateful to me for sending him his victim.

    Wolfe: Bah.

    Archie: No, that won't do. Well, I'll quit if you prefer -- yeah, I could do that. I'd prefer to take an indefinite leave of absence, starting now -- without pay, of course.

    Wolfe: What are you saying? Are you saying you're going single-handed after the murderer of Miss Eads?

    Archie: Single-handed, no. I might have to hire some outside help. But I'm going for him.

    Wolfe: Pfui. Poppycock. Is Mr. Cramer such a bungler? And his men? So inept that you must assume their functions?

    Archie: I'll be damned. That, from you?

    [Archie gets a shoulder holster from his drawer and straps it on, then takes a Marley .32 and fills the cylinder.]

    Wolfe: It won't do. I know what you're -- You're trying to coerce me, and it won't work.

    [The A&E version of the episode picks up with the remainder of Wolfe's line: "I will not undertake a major and expensive operation, with no chance of income, merely because you have been piqued by circumstance."] Edit



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