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.
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.