Battle Creek has a classic television premise: a cop and an FBI agent become unlikely allies as they team up to fight crime in a city that desperately needs them. You can figure out the rest in your head — the only question is, how many episodes will there be and how much space will it take up on the DVR? Well, Battle Creek was given a 13-episode order, which means it should air straight through spring to the beginning of summer. You can count on that too, because CBS has already committed to airing the entire series.
And if the show is even marginally successful, it will almost certainly get renewed for a second season — I don't see how they would want to lose a show from Vince Gilligan that will draw in cable fans who might otherwise be too snobby for a network TV drama, but won't alienate their base audience, who want to see cops figuring out crimes in 44 minutes, no questions asked.
But even though Battle Creek has an oh-so-serious pedigree with its gritty setting and its "FROM THE CREATOR OF BREAKING BAD" tagline in every commercial, it perfectly fits the CBS drama brand. Though the network has a reputation for never taking chances on risky shows, it's more accurate that they don't need to take risks because they've distilled TV drama down to a science.
Even though CBS recently debuted yet another unsuccessful comedy, The Odd Couple, and lost one of its popular shows, Two and a Half Men, its drama track record is nothing less than amazing, ratings-wise. They've perfected the procedural, making shows like CSI and NCIS into huge successes that run for hundreds of episodes and survive multiple cast changes and spinoff into multiple shows.
But seriously, look at the breakdown for Battle Creek. You got one straight-laced FBI agent played by a square jawed handsome guy who's been in some Transformers movies, using his wooden acting style as a strength:
You add a police detective who knows exactly which rules to break, a recognizable character actor from his work in national commercials (and as a beloved sitcom character):
And then you put them in an American city that hasn't already been the setting for 10 to 15 other shows. Battle Creek, Mich., is considered the "Cereal City" as opposed to the much more famous "Motor City," so it hasn't been as overexposed. Besides, Detroit already has Robocop.
So even though CBS has the reputation for being conservative, they'd have to be stupid to ignore that Gilligan and his cowriter have given them a perfect addition to their network. And you can look forward to it on Sunday nights for the next 13 weeks.