‘A.P.B.’ Pilot Recap: “Why Is Some Rich Guy Able to Buy Justice?”

Based on the ads, I can’t say that I expected Fox’s new sci-fi-ish cop drama ‘A.P.B.’ to be particularly good. What I didn’t realize is just how revolted I’d be by the show within the first ten minutes.

Seriously, this is some major bullshit.

The pilot episode, slickly but soullessly directed by Len Wiseman of ‘Underworld’ notoriety, introduces us to Gideon Reeves (Justin Kirk), a billionaire industrialist and shameless Tony Stark wannabe. After gleefully demonstrating his company’s new high-tech, military-grade drones to a bunch of oil company executives, Reeves asks his driver to stop off at a convenience store in a seedy Chicago neighborhood so he can buy some cigarettes. Naturally, because this is a TV show perpetuating stereotypes and clichés, the store gets robbed while he’s in it, and Reeves’ best friend is murdered while trying to protect him.

The 911 response to this emergency was slow and, in the aftermath of it, Reeves discovers that the police force is woefully overburdened and underpaid. The only sympathetic officer in the station, sexy beat cop Amelia Murphy (Natalie Martinez, best known for playing the inept Deputy Linda in ‘Under the Dome’), tells him that there’s basically no chance the killer will ever be caught.

Determined to find justice himself, Reeves pays $100 million to buy this police district from the city of Chicago (basically blackmailing the mayor to do so). He and his company then roll in and equip all the cops with fancy new body armor, taser pistols, police cruisers and armed drones – all networked with constant video feeds back to Reeves himself. He also decides to forego the antiquated 911 system in favor of distributing an app across the district that citizens can use to report crimes in real time. Some cops, including Murphy, are open to these changes. Others are skeptical of having a smug rich prick meddling in their business.

After working out some kinks involving false crime reports and an overzealous rookie who gets shot while rushing into a crime scene (which Reeves takes the blame for, even though it wasn’t at all his fault), crime rates soon go down in the district. Murphy even captures the bad guy who killed Reeves’ friend, for which he promotes her to detective. The new system eventually proves to be such a rousing success that people all over Chicago download the APB app – far beyond the confines of the initial pilot program. Everybody wants Reeves’ new private Gestapo to protect them.

Episode Verdict

First off, the basic concept of this show, which advocates for the privatization of the police force and says that what the world really needs is for a rich guy to step in and fix all our problems, is both irresponsible and offensive. The series also celebrates the over-militarization of police (which has proven to be a serious problem in this country), the dismissal of civil liberties (Reeves’ drones spy right into the apartments of innocent civilians), and even police brutality. Throughout the premiere episode, white cops regularly beat down black suspects, and this is depicted as a good and necessary thing to maintain law and order. This stupid show is shockingly tone deaf to the current state of the world we live in.

What’s perhaps most perplexing about ‘A.P.B.’ is how blatantly Reeves’ company mirrors the OCP corporation from ‘RoboCop’. I have to imagine that the show’s creators were aware of this (naming the lead cop Murphy is almost certainly a deliberate reference), yet they seem to have no awareness at all that ‘RoboCop’ was a satire and that OCP were the villains of that movie, not the heroes.

I am utterly dumbfounded at how clueless someone would have to be to make a piece of shit like this.

Grade: F for “Fuck This Show”TM

13 comments

  1. NJScorpio

    I enjoyed this review far more than I could have enjoyed the show. The strange tone is conveyed in the commercials too, making me ask “Why would I watch this? What is this show trying to say? What is the story being told?”

    I’d rather see a show based on the old A.P.B. arcade game.

  2. Bill

    Interestingly this is the second show this season to feature a rich guy from the tech. industry bringing his “expertise” to solve society’s problems. (Pure Genius is the other for any of you who don’t know). Neither has received much of a welcome. Jealousy?

    FTR. I thought the first episode was quite well done. The tech. wasn’t so far out there that it became science fiction. On the other hand the acting and characters were not very appealing. My expectation is that this series will evolve to show Reeves gradually coming to understand that his tech. alone won’t save Chicago and that a good combination of old fashioned police work along with his gadgets are going to be necessary.

    As for calling a character Murphy, why not? It is an homage to the Robocop series. Happens all the time.

  3. Deaditelord

    While I’m sorry Josh that you had to suffer through this terrible show, you improved what was otherwise a crappy day for me with this review. Too funny.

    PS: You might want to consider trademarking Grade: F for “Fuck this show” It could be your version of Siskel & Ebert’s “Two thumbs WAAAAAYYYY Down!” 🙂

  4. TammyS

    I didnt hate it as much as i thought I would. I don’t mind the premise as long as they don’t shy away from interrogating it. There were glimpses of that with his interactions with Murphy and the tensions within the police force. But I hope that tension continues to build. I’d love to see on the show, the city eventually rebelling against the use of surveillance and other police tactics they use. So I think there’s still potential in the show.

    And I disagree with you that they were advocating militarisating the police force. With them replacing guns with tasers, I actually thought they were going in the opposite direction.

  5. Thulsadoom

    Oddly enough, I sat and watched Robocop again a couple of days ago. One of my top ten, but just haven’t had time to enjoy in a long time. This review made me laugh! Yeah, portraying the idea of a billionaire taking over the police and privatising them as a good thing is not bright. However, if the rich guy turns out to be the villain, with some of the police rebelling against his policies, that could end up interesting. 😉

    Then again, this is Len Wiseman. Much as I enjoy the Underworld movies as great fun, you have to remember he also did the Total Recall remake… 😉 which was about the same as the Robocop remake, though that had some plus points… Unfortunately both films kind’ve missed the point of what made their originals so great.

    You never know… Maybe the idea of the show will be that even a rich person with good intentions, can make the wrong choices, and as time goes on perhaps the stories will be about him realising how morally dubious his taking over of the police is? It could be the idea of the show… The crime rates drop, so the people cheer, but only slowly realise what they’ve lost…. Unfortunately I suspect it’s probably not that deep. 😉

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