Battle Creek

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
Battle Creek TV Poster Image
Odd-couple cops deliver laughs and drama, with some blood.

Parents say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Working together in spite of big differences is a major theme, and crimes are solved by the end of every episode. The show also explores how an economic downturn can effect regional crime and whether high-tech or old-school crime-solving techniques yield better results.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Russ and Milt don't typically agree, but they're willing to work together for the betterment of Battle Creek. 

Violence

Punching, kicking, shoot-outs; crime scenes show dead bodies and blood, but the cameras don't dwell on the gory details.

Sex

Light sexual tension between characters, on the level of flirtation.

Language

Audible words include "ass" and "hell."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some cases concern the illegal drug trade; social drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Battle Creek is a police procedural with a twist: There's a little light comedy involved. But in spite of some laughs, the show still treats homicide cases seriously, showing the dead bodies, blood, and shoot-outs you'd expect to see on other crime shows. Characters make jokes about drug use and rape, and words such as "ass" and "hell" are audible. A few cases also revolve around the illegal drug trade, and some characters drink socially.

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What's the story?

Scruffy cynic Det. Russ Agnew (Dean Winters) starts to question his old-school approach to crime solving when criminally handsome FBI agent Milt Chamberlain (Josh Duhamel) sets up a satellite office across the hall to help keep BATTLE CREEK crime at bay. Milt might have powerful tools at his disposal, including disarmingly good looks and easy access to the latest technology. But Russ has the advantage of local connections and hard-boiled instincts that never -- OK, maybe sometimes -- lead him astray.

Is it any good?

Hard to define but ultimately easy to love, Battle Creek is one part police procedural and one part lighthearted buddy comedy, a mash-up of genres spun from the minds of Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad) and David Shore (House). On the surface, it’s a setup we’ve seen plenty of times before, pairing two cops at opposite ends of the spectrum and forcing them to work together -- or not. But Battle Creek transcends that familiar formula by injecting laughs -- and a surprising amount of heart -- into the equation.

Kids likely won't be drawn to Battle Creek, but if they are it wouldn't be the worst place for them to spend an hour. After all, in addition to likable leads and a quirky ensemble (including Oscar nominee Janet McTeer, plus Kal Penn of the Harold and Kumar franchise), the series also boasts some unexpectedly thoughtful themes, such as how a flagging economy affects local crime and police funding and whether the high-tech gadgetry seen on shows such as CSI is the only way to get the job done.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about one of Battle Creek's ongoing themes: exploring the economics of crime solving and determining which techniques -- high-tech or low-tech -- work better. What are the pros and cons of each approach? Does the show take sides?

  • How does Battle Creek compare with other cop shows on TV? What's it doing differently, and do you like it?

  • How well do Russ and Milt work as a team in spite of their differences, and how do they handle conflict? What are the challenges of working closely with someone whose perspective is radically different from your own?

TV details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love police drama

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