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PARISH (2024)

Season One.

Aired On: Paramount+.

Release Date: 03/31/24.

"Follows a taxi driver whose life is turned upside down when he agrees to pick-up a Zimbabwean gangster mostly known for exploiting undocumented immigrants at the U.S. southern ports."


New Orleans is a town of contradictions. The Big Easy is a humid swamp of classy musical venues and gin joint dives, stagnant green waters with seasonally dry docks, and avenues of crumbling cemeteries brightened by a funeral parade. This is where retired wheelman Gracián “Gray” Parish calls home in the new AMC series, Parish, a title that cleverly calls out to both that famed locale and a man with his own oppositions.


Parish is a loose adaptation of a UK mini called The Driver that starred David Morrissey and Colm Meaney. The throughline between the shows is that the eponymous driver gets called into duty one more time by a criminal outfit for criminal needs. Parish stars the always-enjoyable Giancarlo Esposito in the title role. Esposito’s Parish is retired from crime, now living life as a husband, father, and small-business owner; failing at all three. Until an old partner-in-crime, Colin (Skeet Ulrich), turns up with a big favor to ask. An easy job. In and out. Right? And the temptation to suit up behind the wheel returns.


Gray knows there ain’t no such thing as an easy job. He rolls his eyes with the punches. This is Esposito’s show and he moves between silent and cool to grave and commanding. Cool looks alone, though, do not get the job done. As it stands, Parish needed more of that swagger for this somewhat standard crime series with its convenient conflict.


Parish starts out with a fast car chase that benefited from even faster non-linear editing. Once parked, the premiere episode shifts down to an all-too comfortable gear. Gray goes to help Colin and quickly becomes involved with the Tongai family, a group of Zimbabwean gangsters led by the youthful-yet-charismatic figure known as the Horse (Zackary Momoh). The Horse digs Gray and sets him up with a task – one that comes with a predictable outcome.


Following the premiere, the Tongai family get uber creepy once their business plan is revealed. Gray complains about wanting to be out but such conflicts slip away once he dons those driving gloves. The series creator, TV veteran-director Sunu Gonera, places more of an emphasis on Gray as the suffering servant – he mourns the death of his son – than as a hip wheelman who beats out the Blues while cutting corners and jumping through shortcuts. For a show about a driver, the on-the-road sequences lack any voodoo.


Parish has all the elements of a hip neo-noir and maybe the final eps of this six-part series put the pedal to the metal. While fans of Giancarlo Esposito or New Orleans centered crime-dramas will find this one cruising in their wheelhouse, Parish can get easily lost in the traffic of streaming network shows. And this is one that can all-too easily be passed on by.

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