Here's Hoping Fox's A.P.B. Will Be Darker Than It Looks

Illustration for article titled Heres Hoping Foxs iA.P.B. /iWill Be Darker Than It Looks

Fox has a new show, called A.P.B., about a tech billionaire who buys and privatizes a police precinct because the cops are too busy to solve the death of his oldest friend. We think that sounds way more like the story of a paranoid supervillain than a hero.


A few days ago, Fox released a trailer for A.P.B.; it presents Gideon Reeves (Justin Kirk) with the usual superhero origin story.

He’s a brilliant engineer whose best friend died, so now he’s going to use his skills to fight crime. And by “his skills” we mean “a supercomputer and an app.”


The trailer also frames it as a victory when Reeves convinces the skeptical police officers of said precinct (which he has somehow convinced a city to let him privatize) of the value of what he’s doing. At the end, everyone has the life-saving police app, lucky them!

The biggest trap A.P.B. could fall into is deciding that technology and privatization is an unequivocal good. It’s the exact same problem Fox’s Minority Report ran into: it didn’t seriously engage with both sides of the argument. Minority Report used seeing the future to prevent crimes as a cool plot device and never really talked about the issues of manipulating the future that way. A.P.B. looks very much like it’s cut from the same cloth.

Hopefully, the trailer is a vast simplification of the actual show. David Slack, the creator of A.P.B., is a Person of Interest co-exec producer and writer. That’s an experience we hope would lead to a nuanced exploration of technology usurping the role of cops and private individuals taking over state operations.

Honestly, the best way this show could turn out is if Gideon gets drunk with power and turns into an evil overlord who believes his Orwellian nightmare is really what’s best for people. That would be interesting.


Katharine is the former managing editor of io9.

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This sounds like so Libertarian IT guy’s wet dream.

But hey, privatized prisons work great in the real world. Why not have a privatized police force?

Anyway, the best story about privatizing a police force was already written.