TV Review: CBS’ ‘Battle Creek’

Battle Creek stars Josh Duhamel (Transformers) as an FBI agent working with a police detective, played by Dean Winters (Oz), in the town of Battle Creek, Mich. The CBS series, which originated with a script from Vince Gilligan before his Breaking Bad days and was later developed by House veteran David Shore, premieres Sunday, March 1 at 10 p.m. The following are reviews from TV critics around the web, compiled by B&C.

Battle Creek premieres the same week as CSI: Cyber, which suggests CBS hasn’t exactly decided on a total makeover. But it does represent a modest spin on its crime-procedural niche, recognizing that the genre needs to evolve as its core viewers move further up the demo ladder.”
Brian Lowry, Variety

“[E]ven if Battle Creek isn’t as great as the signature series of its co-creators, it has its own charms, as evidenced in the full 13-episode season sent to critics before Sunday’s premiere on CBS. Gilligan originally wrote the script for CBS a decade ago and, in a good way, it shows: While it doesn’t have the dramatically nuanced sweep of Breaking Bad, it does have Gilligan’s trademark blend of oddball humor and drama.”
David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle

“CBS has billed Battle Creek as a new cop show ‘from Vince Gilligan, the creator of Breaking Bad.’ That’s bound to raise expectations for the series, which follows the Battle Creek PD’s resident grump Russ (Dean Winters) and his too-good at-everything partner, Milt (Josh Duhamel), an FBI agent from Detroit who has moved in across the hall. Unfortunately, like Milt, it’s also too good to be true.”
Melissa Maerz, Entertainment Weekly

“If one’s going into Battle Creek expecting Breaking Bad on CBS, they’re going to be sorely disappointed and actually wind up missing out on what’s otherwise a series full of extremely well crafted personalities and a lot of potential.”
Merrill Barr, Forbes

Battle Creek is more of a hybrid between network and cable. It’s a 13-episode procedural that follows the basic rules of network crime shows — episodes center on a murder mystery that is solved by the last commercial and dilute brutal violence with humor. Yet the sensibility of this show is markedly different.”
Alessandra Stanley, New York Times

“Were Battle Creek, set in the Michigan city famed for its cereal exports, to come from a no-name producer, it would be a perfectly acceptable mismatched-cop dramedy. While it by no means reinvents the concept, it is an entertaining-enough diversion that has sufficient fresh — or freshly recycled — elements to differentiate it from its ubiquitous procedural brethren.”
Sarah Rodman, Boston Globe

“Despite the decade-plus already devoted to Battle Creek, it remains a work in progress. [...] Still, the cast is strong, and in a season where so many series (some of them excellent) lean toward the grim, Creek's sunnier approach makes for a nice change. After all, there aren't many other crime shows out there that would tackle a maple syrup cartel. A small victory, maybe, but a victory nonetheless.”
Robert Bianco, USA Today

“What is great about Battle Creek is that it doesn’t try to bend the tropes of a prestige genre show into the CBS formula. In other words, it’s pretty much a straight-up week-to-week procedural with strong but moody leads.”
Brian Moylan, The Guardian

“Duhamel and Winters were born to share the screen as the odd couple who must solve a seriously strange series of crimes. CBS is so confident in it that it sent critics copies of the first season's entire 13-episode run. Their faith is well-placed.”
Tirdad Derakhshani, Philadelphia Inquirer