AMC Series Parish Has Car Chase Scenes, Many Plots, Gruesome Violence

a man in a car wearing sunglasses
Parish Has Car Chase Scenes, Gruesome ViolenceAMC+

“Yeah, I can drive,” says Gray Parish, the main character in the new AMC series Parish.

Driving, and the chase scenes that inevitably ensue, are the reason we’re looking at Parish, the six-part crime drama now streaming on AMC. Whether the rest of the series is worth it will be up to you. So far, all we’ve seen is the hour-long pilot, which vaguely sets up the following five episodes.

The pilot starts right out of the box with a chase scene—a stolen Porsche Macan zips through the crowded streets of New Orleans, where the series is set. It’s a scene that is chronologically at the end of the pilot episode, just one of the many slightly confusing aspects of this show. But it’s a good chase scene, with clever elements to it, so we forgive its awkward placement.

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Arica Himmel and Paula Malcomson play the family by which Parish wants to do right. AMC+

Title character Gray Parish, played with simmering intensity by Giancarlo Esposito of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul fame, is a getaway driver for the mob. Esposito himself did some of the driving in the show, as he told the L.A. Times:


“As a driver who has taken a couple of driving courses, not as many as the stuntmen take, when they asked me to come down and show them—it’s happened on a few movies: Maze Runner, I did a moment of driving in that movie; Harley Davidson, The Marlboro Man—I can spin this pickup truck around. Or, ‘Come and show us how you could stop on a dime if that rock is the camera and it's right in front of you,’ I have to prove it. And when they asked me to do the same for Parish, take the driving course with them and learn a reverse 180 and practice spinning that car around and weaving I thought, ‘Oh, I know how to do that.’ But it takes practice. Even if you know how to do it, you need a refresher course. I drove my butt off in Parish.”

As did his character. The character Parish needs just one more job in order to make a clean break from his criminal past so he can do right by his loving family.

Okay, yeah, that’s a cliché.

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in,” says Al Pacino in The Godfather Part 3. Similar laments have issued forth from moral good guys forced into criminal lifestyles in crime dramas since the first cave painting of someone stealing a wooly mammoth. (“Every time Trog want out, Mammoth syndicate pull Trog back in.”)

Don’t let the cliches get in the way. Parish traces its roots back—not very far—to a three-part BBC ONE series called The Driver. That was written by Daniel Brocklehurst, who then co-wrote Parish. A quick look at the trailer for that BBC predecessor to Parish makes it look intriguing. You might want to watch that one next. It’s the same plot: An honest man is dragged into, or back into, a life of crime as a getaway driver after the straight life proves too difficult.

Your enjoyment of Parish may be directly proportional to the number of television crime dramas you’ve seen and whether you notice or can tolerate those clichés. But if being formulaic and even predictable was a problem, there’d be precious little to watch on TV or at the movies nowadays.

As formulaic crime dramas go, Parish can be quite satisfying, apart from the grotesque violence (Crowbar to the head? Brains all over the place? Yay!).

With his limo business being frittered away by Uber drivers, his mortgage so far past due that his wife has put their lovely home in the suburbs on the market, unresolved mourning for his murdered son, and his financial ruin just around the next corner, the highly moral Parish finds he has no choice but to accept the job offer forwarded to him by his ex-con former partner.

Thus, Parish finds himself working for a Zimbabwean crime family. Why Zimbabwean? Because the other Parish writer, Sunu Gonera, is from Zimbabwe. When the crime family wants to say something without anyone else knowing what they’re saying, they speak in one of the 16 languages most common in Zimbabwe. I don’t know which one. The audience only knows what they’re saying because of the subtitles.

There’s another chase in the pilot episode, this one with Parish in a Cadillac CT5 V-Series. That is equally well done, but also just as quickly over. Which means the crime drama has to carry the six episodes and maybe 10 or 12 subplots that we have to keep straight as we watch. Don’t be daunted by those tasks, TV viewer. You can keep things straight in this series a lot easier than you could in Bullitt.

Would I pay my own money for Parish? Yes. I just spent $4.99 for access to AMC with commercials. A couple bucks more and you can watch Parish without the odd juxtaposition of—no kidding—Burger King commercials.

Will you watch this? Is there anything good on TV nowadays? Please comment below.