TV Club: Battle Creek: “Man’s Best Friend”

The challenge of procedural, episodic storytelling is that it isn’t really isn’t set up to explore any of the deeper structural or societal issues that undergird its plots. That potential shortcoming can become painfully obvious when we’re dealing with cop shows, which by their nature are about crime, even if they aren’t particularly interested in actually exploring that subject. Because the unit of storytelling is a single episode, a show can really only hope to pay lip service to the notion that this specific crime is part of a more generalizable problem, and it’s almost inevitable that, sooner or later, the need to tell the most compelling story will reveal some crucial detail about the characters involved that will shift our understanding so that it really is their responsibility, not society’s. The best procedural shows can find ways to explore those nuances even within …

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