It’s been 12 years since CBS bought Vince Gilligan’s script for an odd-couple cop drama. Now, with the help of “House” creator David Shore and others, “Battle Creek” will finally make its way to TV this winter as part of the Eye’s midseason lineup.
While this is a lesson on hope for all struggling screenwriters with scripts in turnaround, it’s also one on partnership. Both men — creators in their own right of immensely popular dramas with distinct tones of voice — are exec producing the Sony TV and CBS TV series along with Melissa Bernstein, Erin Gunn, Mark Johnson and pilot director Bryan Singer, but Gilligan is ceding day-to-day showrunning activities to Shore so he can concentrate on AMC’s “Better Call Saul.” At “Battle Creek’s” TCA press panel, the two talked about how that partnership has played out.
“Twelve years ago, I wanted to make this show and [CBS] didn’t have to make a lot of guarantees,” to get it on the air now, Gilligan said in regards to perks like a guaranteed 13-episode first season order that come when you create a cult phenom like “Breaking Bad.” “I’m sorry I’m not as big a part of this show as I’d like to be because of my duties at ‘Better Call Saul.'”
While there were inevitable tweaks needed for a script that’s over a decade old, Shore said he wasn’t worried about changing parts of the dialogue that effect time and place.
“I always want the show to feel out of time in a way,” he said in regards to references to say, “Magnum P.I.” “I’m very worried about current references. If you get tied up in that, it becomes dated in a way. In a weird way, it felt 30 years old … ‘House’ was very, very different from ‘Breaking Bad,’ but I’ve found that in talking with Vince … we have a similar sensibility. For me to try to replicate his voice would be foolish.”
“Battle Creek” stars Josh Duhamel and Dean Winters as an FBI agent and a small town cop forced to work together. The procedural will air midseason on CBS. Janet McTeer, Kal Penn, Edward Fordham, Jr. and Aubrey Dollar also star.