Unless your show is Knight Rider, a TV series based on technology rarely works — it needs to be built around human drama, not fancy gadgets. That’s the chance APB, a new cop show premiering Monday on Fox, is taking. It stars Justin Kirk (Weeds) as Gideon Reeves, a “maverick billionaire” who funnels lots of cash into reequipping a Chicago police precinct with cutting-edge tech. His initial motive is simply to help the cops find the man who murdered his close friend, but you know that Reeves has to stick around for there to be a weekly series.
Reeves bestows on Chicago a new APB app that citizens can download to send the police force its own “all-points bulletins” about crimes being committed, to quicken response time. Reeves also gives the precinct he’s overseeing a fleet of cool new patrol cars, body armor, “the next gen of tasers,” drones, and so on. The series, overseen by writer Matt Mix (Burn Notice), knows what you’re thinking, and puts your question in the mouth of a cop: “Why is some rich guy just allowed to buy justice?” asks Natalie Martinez’s Officer Murphy. The short answer: Because he has the money and a high media profile to force the Chicago police chief to play along; the latter cannot resist Reeves’s commitment of “almost $100 million in free money.”
So APB spends a lot of time showing us Reeves, his associates, and the upper-echelon cops staring at big blue computer screens, watching how well (or not) their experiment is working. The show has to strike a balance: Sure, a drone can swoop around keeping track of a perp on the run, but we also must be reassured that the criminal is caught, in the end, by good old-fashioned shoe leather — a cop running down the suspect and handcuffing him.
Writer Nix knows what he’s up against here — he even inserts a Knight Rider joke to address the point I made up top — and he’s got a smooth delivery system for self-deprecating, wise-guy humor in Justin Kirk’s just-this-side-of-smirky performance. Plus, the show has the added element of a timeliness it could not have anticipated before it went into production: President Trump’s recent remarks about the “carnage” of Chicago crime and the necessity to do something about it fast.
Reeves is trying to do something about the state of law enforcement in America, but APB, with its alternation of tedious command-center computer-gazing and routine cops-chasing-bad-guys action, doesn’t seem like a concept that will keep viewers intrigued week after week.
APB airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on Fox. Watch clips and full episodes of APB for free on Yahoo View.