Has any show dominated television discussion in 2013 as much as AMC’s Breaking Bad? Sure, Downton Abbey had its prim-and-proper moment, and Netflix’s exclusive seasons of House of Cards and Arrested Development caused much fan-noise. The online mania for Breaking Bad’s final season has been so impressive, however, that CBS—which you can get with a tv antenna—has decided that it too wants a golden egg from the goose that is show-creator Vince Gilligan.
Battle Creek is the series that CBS has signed, ordered, promised to pay for, and guaranteed to air in its 2014 primetime fall schedule. Typically a network will order an entire season’s worth of episodes only after seeing, and approving, a test episode called a pilot (you remember Samuel L. Jackson’s monologue from Pulp Fiction, right?) That’s not the way it works when you’re Vince Gilligan, however. Vince Gilligan got CBS to commit to buying an entire season of the show before filming a single second of the pilot.
That’s how much of a money-maker CBS thinks it will be. The New York Times antenna channels that the network will pay something between $35 million and $45 million to make the show. It’s easier to see now why CBS was trying to increase its fee from Time Warner Cable this summer, even when it caused TWC to drop the network in several crucial markets. When you have multi-million dollar, un-produced television series to order, who can worry about little things like distribution deals?
In any case, here’s the scoop on Battle Creek. It’s—are you sitting down?—a detective show! From The Hollywood Reporter:
“The project … centers on two detectives with very different world views who are teamed up. Together, they must answer the question: Are cynicism, guile and deception enough to clean up the semi-mean streets of Battle Creek, Michigan, in the face of a complete lack of resources, or is the exact opposite true — it takes naïveté, trust and a boatload of resources?”
The show is based on the script for a pilot that Gilligan wrote in 2002. Interestingly, though, this will not be only Gilligan’s show. David Shore—creator of a little series called “House” over at FOX—will oversee the show’s day-to-day running, as well as update the pilot. Shore will also share executive producer credits with Gilligan and Breaking Bad executive producer Mark Johnson. How much of the show will be written by Gilligan or Shore remains to be seen, but Gilligan will likely direct the first episode.
All in all, a good sign for over-the-air television watchers who use an antenna. Heisenberg!
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