10 Things We Learned About The High-Tech Cop Show APB

Star Justin Kirk, creator Matt Nix, and director Len Wiseman fight crime with drones and apps, but not X-ray guns.

by | February 2, 2017 | Comments

APB: Ernie Hudson, Caitlin Stacey, Justin Kirk (FOX)

Cop shows are a dime a dozen on television, so Fox’s new police drama does something different to make an impression. APB brings drones and apps to a Chicago police precinct.

Justin Kirk plays Gideon Reed, a tech billionaire who witnesses a friend die in an armed robbery. Frustrated that the police couldn’t get there in time to save his friend, Gideon buys a precinct and applies his gadgets to police work. Natalie Martinez plays Det. Theresa Murphy, Ernie Hudson is Capt. Ned Conrad, and Caitlin Stasey plays Ada Hamilton, the technician navigating all of Gideon’s toys.

Kirk, series creator Matt Nix, and pilot director Len Wiseman spoke with Rotten Tomatoes at Fox’s party for the Television Critics Association. Here are 10 reasons to get excited about their modern take on cop shows.


APB: Natalie Martinez in APB premiering Monday, Feb. 6 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: FOX

Nix’s first long-running series was USA’s spy caper Burn Notice, and according to him, the worlds of cops and spies are closer than you might think.

“There’s a lot of social engineering and physical engineering in both of them,” Nix said. “In Burn Notice, often they would build something or devise some approach that involved specialized knowledge and an engineer’s mind. In this show, the main character is literally an engineer and he is devising approaches.”

Nix has nothing to do with CBS’s Scorpion but thinks APB could mimic their tech geniuses’ ingenuity.

“What we’re doing is maybe a little closer to Scorpion in that it’s what can we build, what we can make,” Nix said. “The pace of technology has accelerated to the point where it is credible to say, ‘Oh, we’ve been presented with a problem. Let’s come up with a technological solution in the next few days.’”


APB: Justin Kirk in APB premiering Monday, Feb. 6 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: FOX

Gideon is a tech billionaire who profited on weapons and likes to tell people off, but then tries to use his technology to do some good. Sound familiar? Of course, Kirk puts his own spin on it, and he doesn’t have an Iron Man suit, but he could be a Tony Stark type.

“I suppose I’ve heard that or Batman,” Kirk said. “I didn’t think about it on the day when we were going to work. It makes sense on some level.”

Wiseman said Stark is one of many inspirations. “[He’s] a bit of a hybrid of Tony Stark, Elon Musk, [and] Bill Gates,” Wiseman said.

Nix totally came clean on the Tony Stark comparison. “Oh, 100 percent,” Nix admitted. “I was a huge Iron Man fan. There’s no question that, hopefully in the most respectful way, this series owes a debt to Iron Man. To some extent, one of the things that engaged me about the idea was, what if that could be real?”


APB: PITCH:L-R: Justin Kirk and Caitlin Stacey in APB coming soon to FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Chuck Hodes / FOX

In directing the pilot and setting the template for the series, Len Wiseman made sure not to advance the technology too far.

“Every bit of technology and idea that we’re using in the episodes is either technology that exists today or is being developed today,” Wiseman said. “We sat with a lot of futurists and engineers from various industries about what the technology is and how that would benefit if we were to bring that technology into policing and law enforcement. It was very topical but also makes you question why we are not using the kind of technology that Apple has.”


APB: Justin Kirk in APB premiering Monday, Feb. 6 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: FOX

Using technology to solve crimes is such a good idea, it shouldn’t take a tragedy to apply it. Earlier versions had looser motivations.

“There were various versions of the pilot before we did it,” Kirk said. “It wasn’t always that. It was a stranger that died once. There was always an event. I guess, to me, what I saw it as was here’s a guy who made a s—load of money with his talents. Then when this thing came up, he thought, ‘Well, maybe I’ll do something ostensibly altruistic with it.’”


APB: Natalie Martinez in APB premiering Monday, Feb. 6 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: FOX

The efficiency on display in shows like CSI and Law & Order is only make believe. The need for a Gideon Reed is very real.

“The scene in the pilot that was important to me was him going to the police district and saying, essentially, ‘Don’t you have forensics? Don’t you have all these things I’ve seen on TV?’” Nix said. “The reality for most police stations in America is they don’t have those things. There aren’t sleek tech labs.”

Nix was partly inspired by a robbery he suffered. The police dusted for fingerprints but couldn’t find any, and Nix went down to the station to look at an old school mugshot book. “That was always interesting to me, a billionaire going, ‘Oh, wait a second. I thought this was handled, but it’s not. If someone’s going handle it, I’ve got to do it myself,’” Nix said.


APB: L-R: Caitlin Stacey and Justin Kirk in APB premiering Monday, Feb. 6 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: FOX

As helpful as drones and apps can prove to be, not every episode of APB is about how great Gideon’s technology is. Look for the ones where he makes matters worse.

“I think there are episodes where he does bad things, which I was thrilled about,” Kirk said. “As much as I like having a hero speech to give and playing the hero and being Batman, I wanted to make sure that we had times on the show where it was like, ‘Oh, this is actually a terrible idea, and here’s where it could go wrong.’ Sometimes it’s a good idea and sometimes it’s a terrible idea.”


APB: Natalie Martinez in APB premiering Monday, Feb. 6 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: FOX

Gideon’s first suggestion is an APB app, where citizens can tap their phone to call the police instead of trying to get through to 911. Great in theory, but what’s to stop people from pranking the app by tapping it for a false alarm? Even worse, what if criminals use it to misdirect the police?

“If you provide an app that allows you to draw in the police within a certain area, why wouldn’t the criminals do that?” Wiseman said. “You want to do a home invasion at this location, let’s have everybody put a bunch of APB calls, essentially 911 calls, in this [other] area. That would be a problem, and we deal with that.”

Wiseman said they address the downside of the app within the first several episodes, but Nix already thought of how the it could outsmart pranksters. “There’s a bit of an algorithm for sorting through it,” Nix said. “If you think about it from a data perspective, a prank call might look a little different. It’s basically like the timing of a prank call is different. The way it looks is different, where it comes from is different. So there are ways of mining the data where you can figure that out.”


APB: Justin Kirk in APB premiering Monday, Feb. 6 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: FOX

Gideon isn’t trying to play hero himself. He only wants to be the brains behind the force. Still, this is television, so eventually, Gideon embarks onto the streets.

“Luckily for me, I got to stay in a good portion of the time, but yeah, I got out there occasionally to various effects,” Kirk teased.


APB: L-R: Justin Kirk and Caitlin Stacey in APB premiering Monday, Feb. 6 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: FOX

The writers concocted some fanciful tech that couldn’t possibly exist today, or ever.

“A writer pitched, for an episode we didn’t do, a handheld X-ray device that could X-ray storage containers with a little handheld device,” Nix said. “You could just see on a screen what was in the storage container. An X-ray powerful enough to go through a storage container is called a death ray. That would kill anyone on the other side of it, and also that’s not how X-rays work.”

Only Superman can X-ray something from one side only. “If we don’t have a plate on the other side, X-rays can’t see through it,” Nix said. “So we looked into some sonar technologies but basically concluded there’s really nothing right now that is capable of doing that.”


APB: Ernie Hudson in APB premiering Monday, Feb. 6 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: FOX

Gideon relies so much on technology, cyber crime would really hit him where it hurts.

“There’s a really great one that takes place at a tech conference that Gideon is at,” Nix said. “How would he engage in a very high tech crime with a very sophisticated bad guy?”

Another episode deals with using technology to make interrogations more effective. “One of our writers was an Army interrogator,” Nix said. “We just asked him, ‘What would be on your wish list?’ It’s a really fun episode where they have a very advanced form of biofeedback that they can use to enhance interrogation.”

APB premieres Monday, February 6 at 9PM on FOX.

Tag Cloud

Tomatazos crossover crime drama dogs Food Network CMT Women's History Month blockbuster gangster breaking bad El Rey Election Nominations CBS based on movie Comic-Con@Home 2021 festival pirates of the caribbean Elton John GoT werewolf documentary ghosts HBO E3 rt archives cats Marvel Studios telelvision Broadway American Society of Cinematographers independent TNT Nickelodeon spinoff wonder woman Trailer TCA 2017 action-comedy RT History rotten PaleyFest A&E know your critic critics dc technology Musicals docudrama 45 vs. The Academy VH1 australia Calendar series Mudbound war Video Games trailers Syfy sitcom movie renewed TV shows TBS Quiz Netflix concert National Geographic golden globe awards Esquire legend boxoffice miniseries composers satire X-Men Music asian-american dceu Star Trek biopic psycho Reality debate AMC Plus best live event Disney streaming service LGBTQ TLC revenge Horror comiccon diversity Fox News name the review monster movies SXSW period drama child's play dreamworks Britbox crime Amazon Studios Superheroe Emmy Nominations docuseries Baby Yoda Awards Tour zombie cancelled television Sundance mob LGBT all-time adventure Hear Us Out discovery Turner Classic Movies zombies Drama Mindy Kaling Chilling Adventures of Sabrina The CW Red Carpet spider-verse sequel Polls and Games superman razzies marvel comics ITV latino Rocky The Witch children's TV Action streaming Avengers Ellie Kemper news Sony Pictures natural history Extras Christmas hollywood james bond YouTube Nat Geo Cannes 2015 theme song Toys new zealand international Film Emmys Disney Plus cartoon Marathons south america History Photos medical drama 1990s Heroines Set visit streaming movies sag awards WGN Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt scorecard Winter TV BET Awards festivals japan TCA Western DGA Trophy Talk Year in Review Holidays Lionsgate hispanic adaptation Pacific Islander Hallmark live action indiana jones sopranos worst space Pop GLAAD jamie lee curtis aliens E! Amazon Prime Video spy thriller historical drama reboot Super Bowl PBS basketball laika Film Festival Shudder harry potter Mary Poppins Returns scary remakes Sneak Peek cancelled TV series suspense New York Comic Con popular CBS All Access Mary Tyler Moore Paramount Network sequels stop motion olympics game of thrones blaxploitation Funimation Lifetime Christmas movies high school casting heist movie Pet Sematary book Vudu 90s ESPN Television Academy 2020 FX on Hulu SDCC Hallmark Christmas movies FXX comic book movies singing competition Starz Rocketman Oscars San Diego Comic-Con boxing football psychological thriller 2021 franchise Universal Pictures Freeform Awards die hard Marvel Television Sundance Now 007 joker cars Paramount Tubi cinemax TV Apple TV Plus Universal versus 2018 Image Comics 72 Emmy Awards award winner golden globes richard e. Grant Schedule TruTV Premiere Dates rotten movies we love witnail Disney unscripted DC Universe BAFTA aapi dramedy stand-up comedy Television Critics Association Travel Channel Comedy Central Netflix Christmas movies archives BET adenture art house finale chucky cops Comedy Fantasy Comic Book Biopics italian robots Discovery Channel halloween facebook Interview 93rd Oscars supernatural new star wars movies ratings Comics on TV posters genre royal family foreign scary movies Stephen King young adult ABC Signature mutant The Walt Disney Company BBC America NBA slashers Spring TV ID Crackle Podcast 2016 Box Office critic resources Writers Guild of America transformers MSNBC Reality Competition anime spanish politics Apple Arrowverse CW Seed DC streaming service Country Tokyo Olympics justice league Mary poppins Academy Awards twilight saw green book VOD kaiju Mystery cults scene in color dark Dark Horse Comics TIFF animated fast and furious tv talk 71st Emmy Awards kong Fox Searchlight First Reviews obituary Acorn TV HBO Max rt labs critics edition Epix cancelled fresh nature new york The Purge Valentine's Day YouTube Premium sports venice 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards MTV Apple TV+ VICE elevated horror Holiday 99% Wes Anderson a nightmare on elm street TV One spider-man emmy awards Tumblr Pirates IFC comic book movie mission: impossible quibi Neflix king kong Exclusive Video Animation NBC Disney Channel canceled canceled TV shows romantic comedy films Ghostbusters BBC One christmas movies video Black Mirror 73rd Emmy Awards Crunchyroll prank binge rom-coms Rom-Com criterion hispanic heritage month french marvel cinematic universe See It Skip It hidden camera comics Tarantino 20th Century Fox 21st Century Fox Best and Worst indie Peacock dexter classics TCM First Look women President godzilla Trivia screen actors guild TV movies MCU Creative Arts Emmys thriller GIFs talk show Thanksgiving TCA Awards social media The Walking Dead Certified Fresh hist mockumentary Spectrum Originals Disney+ Disney Plus Fargo Amazon universal monsters Summer YA nbcuniversal TCA Winter 2020 Walt Disney Pictures ABC stoner blockbusters Opinion Grammys directors zero dark thirty WarnerMedia what to watch strong female leads DirecTV Pixar The Arrangement Anna Paquin cooking HBO Go Showtime anthology DC Comics YouTube Red Pride Month police drama Alien mcc Amazon Prime television video on demand worst movies Adult Swim Winners feel good documentaries political drama Kids & Family spain serial killer Song of Ice and Fire USA Infographic BBC Lucasfilm free movies Instagram Live Chernobyl Captain marvel Star Wars rt labs Logo Rock reviews PlayStation dragons Brie Larson science fiction Character Guide doctor who 2017 Paramount Plus FX king arthur A24 Ovation Sci-Fi lord of the rings APB Columbia Pictures RT21 Fall TV movies CNN Pop TV Spike spanish language Turner toronto Bravo true crime jurassic park TV Land screenings deadpool cancelled TV shows kids AMC ViacomCBS ABC Family 4/20 disaster Superheroes Hulu halloween tv game show USA Network Sundance TV SundanceTV Martial Arts NYCC nfl black travel Lifetime parents Legendary target book adaptation Musical Black History Month Binge Guide 2019 toy story Cosplay comic books TV renewals 24 frames Family Shondaland Classic Film batman Endgame vampires biography romance FOX Cartoon Network Countdown comedies slasher black comedy IMDb TV japanese OWN comic OneApp teaser Warner Bros. Teen Marvel Masterpiece IFC Films Watching Series superhero crime thriller