Vince Gilligan has enjoyed a lot of creative freedom when putting together his AMC drama Breaking Bad, which is currently wrapping up its fifth and final season at the network. It makes sense that the producer would be working to get a new project off of the ground now, but it’s a little more surprising that he is opting to work with a more constrictive network on the new project (at least until you hear the whole story). CBS has bought Gilligan’s drama, called Battle Creek and the network is moving straight to series with program.
That’s a lot of news to take in one paragraph, but there’s a lot more to talk about. First, unlike Breaking Bad, Battle Creek is a detective drama set in Battle Creek, Michigan. The show will follow two detective partners who have opposite perspectives and who use those differing outlooks to clean up the Michigan Streets. At the same time, the two detectives will be competing against an FBI agent which the NY Times is reporting will seem like “the epitome of a crime fighter,” although he’s actually far from it.
It’s interesting that Gilligan is ready to put together a drama that will theoretically be exactly the opposite of Breaking Bad. But Gilligan actually had the idea for this show quite a while ago, soon after he finished up his tenure on The X-Files. Variety is noting that CBS initially turned down the Battle Creek drama back in 2002, but now that Gilligan is a hot commodity, the network broached Gilligan about putting the show together.
To sweeten the deal, CBS has promised to create at least 13 episodes of Battle Creek. The network has also promised to air all 13 episodes, which is an important distinction for CBS, which is notorious for cutting some programming before a full season airs. House creator David Shore has already signed on to be the showrunner for the series. Additionally, he’ll be in charge of executive producing the Sony Pictures TV project with Gilligan and Gilligan’s original Battle Creek partner, Mark Johnson. Talks are still playing out, but Gilligan might even direct the pilot.
The TV realm is saturated with detective dramas, but CBS has had a good track record with such material, with NCIS, The Mentalist, Elementary, and Hawaii Five-O all being housed at the network. If one had to pick a partner for turning a detective drama into a hit, there really isn't a better choice than CBS.
The series isn’t expected to hit the air until the 2014-2015 season, but in the meantime, at least there’s that last episode of Breaking Bad to look forward to this Sunday at 9 p.m. ET, as well as the Better Call Saul spinoff.