With their stories about detectives going head-to-head as well as a family man returning to his criminal past after the murder of his son, the first two must-watch crime dramas of 2024 offer up an addictive mix of drama, suspense, and good old-fashioned quality storytelling.
Of the two new shows, the one I’m most excited for is AMC’s six-episode limited series Parish, which feels like it has all the makings of whatever qualifies as a hit in the streaming age. I’m also already convinced that this one is absolutely going to fill the Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul-sized hole in my heart.
First and foremost, the show (coming in March) stars a moody, perfectly-cast Giancarlo Esposito as Gracian “Gray” Parish, a family man in New Orleans who owns a luxury car service. A pair of calamities — the murder of his son, as well as the loss of his business — leads Parish back to his criminal past as a wheelman, which also puts him on a collision course with a violent crime syndicate.
Esposito, of course, can own this kind of character in his sleep, reminiscent as it is of the feral intensity he brought to the iconic role of Breaking Bad’s Gustavo Fring. The rest of the cast of Parish includes Bradley Whitford, who plays a recurring character named Anton. He’s the “charming and intelligent” face of Louisiana’s business landscape who also secretly heads up a criminal enterprise. Anton’s dispute with a human trafficking ring led by a Zimbabwean gangster known as The Horse eventually puts him at cross purposes with Parish.
Other cast members includes Zackary Momoh (The Nevers, Harriet, Doctor Sleep) as The Horse; Paula Malcomson (Watchmen, The Hunger Games, Ray Donovan) as Parish’s wife; Skeet Ulrich (Scream, Riverdale) as an old acquaintance of Gray’s; Bonnie Mbuli (Invictus, Wallander) as Shamiso Tongai, The Horse’s smart and protective older sister; Ivan Mbakop (Hawkeye, Red Notice) as The Horse’s brother, Zenzo; Arica Himmel (Mixed-ish, Black-ish) as Gray and Rose’s daughter Makayla; and Dax Rey (The Good Fight, Chicago Fire) as The Horse’s son Luke.
Parish is based on the hit UK TV show The Driver. It was also shot on-location in the Crescent City, adding a swampy, Southern Noir vibe to the story.
As for the second of the two crime dramas we alluded to above, it’s Criminal Record — an eight-episode Apple TV+ original starring Peter Capaldi and Cush Jumbo in a London crime thriller from BAFTA Award nominee Paul Rutman.
The first two episodes are streaming now. From Apple’s description of Criminal Record: “An anonymous phone call draws two brilliant detectives into a confrontation over an old murder case — one a young woman in the early stages of her career, the other a well-connected man determined to protect his legacy. The series touches on issues of race, institutional failure and the quest to find common ground in a polarized Britain.”
Capaldi (Doctor Who, The Thick of It) plays Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Hegarty, while Jumbo (The Good Wife, The Good Fight, The Beast Must Die) is Detective Sergeant June Lenker. New episodes of the show, which already has a strong 87% critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes, will release once a week, on Wednesday, through Feb. 21.
Apple TV+ already has a few top-notch crime dramas, like Black Bird and Killing Jacob, but Criminal Record looks poised to be the all-round best of the best, by far.