LOS ANGELES Two new series launch this weekend: “Battle Creek” on CBS and “The Last Man on Earth” on FOX. Both deal with men finding themselves in weird new worlds.
In “Battle Creek,” Josh Duhamel plays strikingly handsome, charismatic Special Agent Milton Chamberlain who opens an FBI field office at the police station in Battle Creek, Mich. His state-of-the-art approach to crime solving is a contrast to a police department that can’t afford batteries for its taser.
The series is the work of Vince Gilligan (“Breaking Bad”) and David Shore (“House”). Gilligan wrote the original script for the series a dozen years ago but it didn’t get off the ground until Shore got involved.
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It’s been so long, Gilligan can’t remember why he selected the Michigan city to be the location for the show. Duhamel offers a clue.
“I remember the first time I met Vince and David, I asked them the same question. And he said that, when he was a kid eating his cereal, he looked at the side of the Kellogg’s box, and it said ‘Battle Creek,’ and that’s where he got this,” Duhamel says.
Duhamel — best known for his work on “Las Vegas” and the “Transformers” movies — suggests it’s not necessarily important exactly where the series is set but that Battle Creek is representative of a lot of cities across the country with a large blue collar population.
“A lot of really interesting stories could come out of a place that doesn’t necessarily have all these big glamorous crimes. It’s a lot of stuff. It’s the minutia of the people and the situations that the people get in,” Duhamel says.
Tension in the show comes from how Duhamel’s character is so much a by-the-book guy and he gets partnered with a local cop (Dean Winters) who is so hard boiled, he’s a little cracked.
Winters has a long list of acting credits, but he’s best known for playing the personification of mayhem in Allstate Insurance commercials.
Janet McTeer, Kal Penn, Edward Fordham, Jr. and Aubrey Dollar also star.
‘Last Man on Earth’
There’s no police — in fact there are no other people — in the new FOX comedy “Last Man on Earth” starring Will Forte. In the not too distant future, Phil Miller finds himself completely alone. It looks like he is the last man on Earth.
Being alone means all of the pressure falls to Forte to generate laughs. It’s a challenge the “Saturday Night Live” grad is willing to face.
“It’s such a great area for comedy because I love comedy where there’s a lot of tension and there’s this idea seems to be even though it’s very far-fetched, it seems very relatable, because I think everybody has thought about you’ve always heard, ‘What would you do if you were the last person on Earth?’ So even though it’s a situation you know, it’s oddly relatable in that way. It’s such a wonderful, tense situation just inherent to the idea,” Forte says.
There’s little time spent talking about the virus that wiped out the planet and there won’t be a lot of dead bodies filling the scenes. The series is designed just to give Forte as many comic opportunities to live out what a person would do if there were no other people around.
In one scene, Phil goes bowling using a truck loaded with bowling balls and aquariums as the targets. The scene was shot without special effects, leading Forte to call the filming one of the most satisfying days in his life.
What the producers didn’t expect were all the difficulties they would have filming the series. They have to be careful not to capture the sound of planes, trains or automobiles. They also have to make sure that people and cars don’t end up in reflections.
Although the show is called “Last Man,” there will be a few other actors on the show. Producers aren’t saying if they will be there as part of flashbacks, dream sequences, illusions or for real.
None will be zombies.
“It’s such a crazy situation, we try to handle it in a somewhat grounded way. If you buy into the premise, then pretty much whatever happens after that is basically stuff that could actually happen,” Forte says.