Vince Gilligan, the creator of Breaking Bad, is moving his creative talents to a new show on CBS due out in the fall called Battle Creek. Gilligan is teaming up with David Shore, the creator of House, and Breaking Bad’s producer Mark Johnson to produce the new police drama. Originally conceived by Gilligan in 2002, he was finally able to sell CBS on the concept last fall. The show follows the efforts of Josh Duhamel, who plays an FBI agent, and a local cop played by Dean Winters, as they work together to fight crime in Battle Creek, Michigan.
The idea of mismatched law enforcement partners is not new, but Gilligan will attempt to put a different spin on the cop show genre. Battle Creek will try to stay away from the norm by moving out of the typical big city setting. Duhamel’s character is tasked with setting up a new field office for the FBI outside of his prior Detroit base. He will struggle for help and lack the resources often enjoyed by his federal law enforcement brethren. Winters and his local cohorts will resist the outside influence of a federal agent.
A consistent theme of Battle Creek will be the social ills brought about by economic stagnation and decay, as the city struggles with loss of manufacturing and a negative business climate. While Duhamel’s character in Battle Creek may not have to deal with troubles of the scale of Walter White’s lung cancer and crystal meth business in Breaking Bad, creator Gilligan will find ways to challenge him while depicting the social issues of a smaller Midwestern city. The show will also incorporate the rural areas surrounding Battle Creek, which should also give the drama a different feel as the characters contend with people from diverse backgrounds. Viewers should not be surprised to see some crystal meth related crimes. Gilligan may try to break some new ground, but he might as well go with stories viewers want and he knows how to provide.
In the new series, Duhamel plays Milton Chamberlain, a naïve and humble FBI agent who plays by the book. Winters is cast as city detective Russ Agnew, who is tough, impatient and generally difficult to work with if you get in his way. The series will also feature Janet McTeer as Winters’ boss, Kal Penn and Edward Fordham, Jr as detectives and Aubrey Dollar as an office manager. Winters has been highly visible the last few months playing Mayhem in a series of Allstate commercials. Penn is best known for his role in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and for House. He previously took a break from acting to work in the White House, but gave up public service to return to the acting fold.
CBS has ordered 13 episodes of the show for its fall lineup. Breaking Bad fans will hope creator Vince Gilligan can create at least some of the compelling story lines they loved so much as he moves to Battle Creek. Gilligan has placed himself on the right side of the law this time, but fans hope he has enough bad left in the tank to make for another great series.
By William Costolo