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CBS Presents 'Battle Creek,' a Lighter than Usual Cop Show - And That's Good
March 1, 2015  | By David Bianculli  | 2 comments

Battle Creek, the new CBS cop series from Vince Gilligan and David Shore, isn’t like any of the network’s other crime shows. It’s lighter… and better…

In order to compete with such dark and popular cable shows as Gilligan’s Breaking Bad, broadcast network dramas have gotten more and more somber over the years. But now, Sunday night at 10 ET, comes Battle Creek to lighten things up. Its characters still have their dark underbellies, but this show is more about belly laughs, and wry, pleasant banter.

Dean Winters, who showed such sparkle as a fast-talking, quick-thinking prisoner in HBO’s Oz, plays a very weary, but quietly proud, senior detective on Michigan’s Battle Creek police force. His colleagues on the squad, who include Kal Penn from Shore’s House, M.D., all look up to him – but one day, someone arrives who’s looked up to because he seems on a much higher pedestal.

Played by Josh Duhamel from NBC’s Las Vegas, he seems to have it all: great looks, endless contacts, the newest crime-solving equipment, and a well-timed sense of good fortune when it comes to finding much-needed clues. If you remember Tom Selleck’s Lance White from The Rockford Files, he’s that kind of guy – and Battle Creek, in tone, is that kind of show.

The original idea and script was Gilligan’s, a dozen years ago, but he and Shore have reworked it now, and Shore is the day-to-day guy in charge. But since every episode of House was a slowly-unfolding mystery story anyway, this show’s plots are satisfyingly and tantalizingly intricate and unexpected.

In style as well as substance, Battle Creek is a 1970s throwback at a time when that type of playful pairing – cynical city investigator paired with idealistic and optimistic pretty boy – stands out from the rest of the 21st century TV pack. Back then, cop shows driven more by characters than plots were commonplace, though not often this well done.

Today, though, Battle Creek is distinctive, in part, by being so much fun. Oh, there are twists and turns that are anything but light, but they’re parceled out slowly, and smartly, over the course of this 13-episode first season. And expect a Season 2 – because, by pairing this new series with The Good Wife, CBS is putting its two best feet forward, and providing a very potent one-two punch on Sunday nights.

To read and hear my review for NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, visit the Fresh Air website.
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Glenn A
I recently learned that Battle Creek has been cancelled. My wife and I are very disappointed. We have grown to appreciate the thoughtful humor and dimensional characters.
May 28, 2015   |  Reply
vince everett
The similarity to Tom Selleck's character from Rockford Files hit right away, and I was happy to see that the writers addressed it by referencing both Selleck and Rockford through the crazy old lady who thought she was seeing real crimes committed on TV
Mar 5, 2015   |  Reply
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