Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan has already inked a large deal with CBS for a new show. According to the terms of the agreement, Battle Creek—a script written by Gilligan for CBS more than 10 years ago—will have a guaranteed spot on the network's fall schedule next season.
The 13-episode order, sight unseen, is unusual for television production. The process normally goes from script to pilot production and then maybe to series order, but CBS went right to the end for a couple of reasons. The first is that Gilligan is a hot commodity (“If I went somewhere with the phone book with Vince’s name on it, I could sell it,” Sony Pictures Television head of programming Zack Van Amburg told the Times) and the second is that House showrunner David Shore is attached to produce. (Have CBS execs seen those last four seasons of House?) The commitment to produce and air at least 13 episodes puts Gilligan in a very comfortable spot in the industry, since he is also working on Breaking Bad's Saul Goodman-centric spinoff.
While Gilligan's deal is impressive, it's not a record-setter. The Michael J. Fox Show, which premieres Thursday, received a massive full-season order from NBC with a commitment to air every episode before a pilot had even been produced.
Here's how the Times describes Battle Creek:
“Battle Creek” is a drama about two detectives in Battle Creek, Mich. One is a trusting naïf, the other a cynic who relies on guile and deception. They find themselves in competition with an F.B.I. agent whom they see as the epitome of a crime-fighter, though he is far from that.
That might not sound particularly interesting, but no television synopsis sounds interesting when condensed to a couple of sentences. Breaking Bad: a dying man goes to great lengths to provide for his family.