“The Wire”: Episode 1, “More with Less”

WiregillanThe Wire” is justly praised to the skies for its writing and near docu-style direction.

But what jumps out at my from this opening episode is the sheer number of fine actors in this cast. It’s a big cast, and it can be overwhelming at first. But to the credit of the actors and writers, these characters are so well-defined that it doesn’t take long at all for the viewer to get a sense of their distinct personalities.

One who has only a few minutes of screen time in the episode (written by series creator David Simon and Ed Burns and helmed by Joe Chappelle) but makes his mark is Reg E. Cathay (pictured right), who plays political strategist Norman Wilson to Aidan Gillen’s youthful Mayor Tommy Carcetti (pictured above).

To my mind, Wilson has the best line of the episode when he chides his boss for being so politically minded as to refuse a $50 million bailout for the city’s fiscal troubles from the state’s Republican governor Wirenormanwilson_2 simply because the nakedly ambitious Carcetti, a Dem, wants to be the next governor and it would make his campaign more difficult. Instead, Carcetti scrambles to juggle the bills, starving the police department (despite campaign promises of raises, new equipment, etc.) to scrape together pennies to funnel to the schools. As it stands, Carcetti now is “just a weak-ass mayor of a broke-ass city,” Wilson tells him.