|Justin Kirk and Natalie Martinez in APB on FOX.|
We've now seen three episodes of FOX's new crime drama APB and I'm going to call it: APB is the most depressing, seemingly upbeat show on television. Ostensibly following the now-too-familiar model of the independent consultant working with police detectives to solve crimes (Castle, The Mentalist, Numb3rs, etc.), APB is somehow so derivative and insipid that it takes most of its progenitor shows down with it – no easy feat!
Created by television writer and producer David Slack (Person of Interest) and developed by Matt Nix (Burn Notice) – APB gives us a hero tailor-made for 2017: a "maverick billionaire" who is convinced he knows better than anyone how to fix what ills American society. In the series' opening scenes, tech mogul and engineer Gideon Reeves (Justin Kirk, Weeds) watches his friend get gunned down in a liquor store robbery in urban Chicago, gets frustrated by the slow response of 911 and the police, and decides that the best way to get "justice" is to take over the neighbourhood's underfunded precinct. He accomplishes this by publicly paying off the city's 89-million police pension deficit – with a personal cheque! – and by bullying/shaming the city's mayor and city council. Over a weekend, he brings in an eager young team of coders and engineers who upgrade the 13th District's obsolete equipment, providing (among other things) shiny new tasers, military-grade vests, and bulletproof squad cars. (Paperwork? Irritating, and apparently pointless, tasks like logging evidence? Civil rights? Not in Gideon's district!) What follows is precisely what you'd expect if you've ever seen a single episode of Numb3rs: every week offers a new crime, and a new problem, that only our hero's unique talents can solve. Along the way, sure, Gideon learns a lesson or two about 'real' law enforcement, but ultimately the show never wavers on its basic premise that this is what we need to really fix our broken society.