TV Review - APB (2017)

This series is based on a New York Times article by David Amsden called "Who Runs the Streets of New Orleans?" The article is about a man named Sidney Torres, a very wealthy man who decided to clean up the Louisiana city in more ways than one.

Written by David Slack and Matt Nix, this series adapts the article ultimately to make Torres out as a hero. According to Torres, the solution to crime is to empower or further embolden the police, which allows this series to fit snugly in the TV landscape, a landscape that sees police-work as the greatest and most exciting career. At this point, television is super-saturated with cop shows, so yet another that simply follows the standard police procedural is boring. It needs some kind of hook. Dexter had a hook that made it standout.

This series has a hook too, but, unlike with Dexter, the hook here isn't character-based. The hook here is basically a gimmick. Sometimes, a gimmick can work like Gotham on FOX. That series is a cop show but set in the world of the Batman comic books. Yet, that gimmick works in part because it does tell character-based stories and lets those stories drive the whole thing. The hook here doesn't seem to do that or at least it doesn't do it well.

Justin Kirk (Angels in America and Weeds) stars as Gideon Reeves, an arrogant billionaire who is very much like Tony Stark from Iron Man (2008) and Kirk is doing a kind of Robert Downey, Jr. impression. When he's involved in a deadly robbery of a convenience store, he decides to lobby the city council with $100 million in order to take control of the police precinct in the 13th district.

He's basically running that police precinct. He gives the officers on the street new technology. They get better bullet-proof vests and advanced tasers. They also get supped-up cars. Gideon also utilizes drones that he pilots from precinct headquarters. The kingpin of Gideon's influence is a social media app that he pushes for everyone in the 13th district and throughout the whole city to download to their phones.

This app is supposed to allow for the police to be aware of crimes faster and have more details about those crimes. So far, the show has not dug into the issues surrounding an app like this. The show has simply fast-forwarded past any issues and now has the app as this widespread thing that everyone uses. Gideon sits in the control room and watches as text, GPS, pictures and even video, presumably from people's phones, pour into his computers and gets displayed on a huge wall monitor.

While that might seem like a clever thing, in reality, numerous other cop shows have leaned on similar technology. If you've seen NBC's Blindspot, then nothing in this series should look or feel all that groundbreaking. Supposedly, Gideon has this algorithm as well, but again even that isn't as clever as this series perhaps thinks it is.

As the second episode shows, this series has a formula. A crime occurs. The app helps track the bad guy and then a couple of the officers chase. A drone or something is used as well. This formula is repeated. Tracking and chasing, tracking and chasing, tracking and chasing! This is repeated over and over. By the second episode, I was already tired of it.

A huge disconnect is the app itself. The way it's depicted in the first two episodes, the app has a limited function that's never acknowledged. The app is in Chicago, so if a crime happens, the odds are high that someone will be nearby to report it. So far, the crimes depicted have happened in the daytime and in public places. The app would seem to be ineffectual at night and in private places. How does the app help with drug trafficking for example or other drug-related crimes? What about sexual assaults or domestic crimes?

Natalie Martinez (CSI: NY and Under the Dome) co-stars as Theresa Murphy, one of the officers in his precinct. She's constantly working with Gideon and makes the argument for traditional police-work. Occasionally, she's impressed with his technology but the series seems geared to convert her to his way of thinking rather than the other way round. Yet, the struggle over whether to use Gideon's technology isn't the real struggle.

If a wealthy man like Gideon has a problem with crime, empowering police only attacks the symptoms and not the cause. Crime doesn't come out of nowhere or is just some natural state. There are causes of crime like poverty, lack of education and lack of job opportunities. Instead of dumping cash into the police force, he should be improving schools, hiring teachers, offering scholarships and rebuilding poor neighborhoods by offering incentives for businesses and housing.

Rated TV-14-LV.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Mondays at 9PM on FOX.


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