This past week many of the U.S. television networks unveiled their lineups for the next television season, which starts in the fall. While there do not appear to be any new programs focused on scientists or technologists as such, two programs are geared around technologists who got rich spending their money to change/save some institutions.
The FOX drama APB follows a billionaire engineer who takes over a district of the Chicago Police Department and converts it to a private police force. The precinct uses advanced technology to fight crime, though there will be some resistance from officers to the new technologies. The CBS program Pure Genius takes a similar approach with medicine. The wealthy tech genius in this program builds a high-tech hospital and fancies himself fighting both disease and bureaucracy. Think Steve Jobs if he stepped back from Apple at the time of his cancer diagnosis and opted to spend down his fortune investing and changing health care – at least in one hospital.
It’s too early to tell how critical these shows will be of their respective protagonists. As a network FOX is typically more receptive of flawed heroes and/or pessimistic programs than CBS. And even if the lead characters of these shows are unsuccessful in their efforts to save the world with technology, it could be through the inertia of bureaucracy, the efforts of so-called Luddites, or some other force independent of the unfettered use of technology to solve societal problems.
The new television season doesn’t start until the fall, and these programs will debut later in the season. As of this writing Pure Genius is scheduled for Thursday nights starting in November, and APB will premiere on Mondays in the spring of 2017.