Photo credit: CBS

Photo credit: CBS

“Battle Creek”

April 17, 2015

Valli Herman

With the tag line “Not all cops are buddies,” the CBS series “Battle Creek” could have played out like a police version of “The Odd Couple.”

Starring Josh Duhamel as uber-FBI agent Milt Chamberlain and Dean Winters as local detective Russ Agnew, the comedy-drama series highlights the mismatched partners’ approach to law enforcement.

With creators Vince Gilligan and David Shore, the show works on a psychological level, too, challenging Costume Designer Kimberly Tillman to illustrate the lead characters’ differences and their similarities.

Tillman gave Chamberlain a kind of gentlemanly perfection with custom-made Anto shirts, perfectly tailored designer suits and a huge selection of ties.

“We spent a little cash on his suits–Ralph Lauren and Armani,” Tillman said. “He’s FBI–but with a backstory. You don’t know it yet, but it feels like maybe his parents were diplomats or had some money. He’s got some breeding.

“Because he’s an FBI agent, his suits are slim and very tailored. It helps make him look more agile and at the ready,” the designer said.

Though Tillman learned that FBI agents typically wear black, she created a distinctive blue palette for Chamberlain. “It makes him look more approachable than in a black suit,” she said. His suit colors ranged from a classic navy to an inky indigo, which coordinate with classic and subtle dark blue ties with small prints or stripes. His shirts also stay in a white-to-deep blue palette.

His shoes hint at Chamberlain’s character: They’re various shades of brown, never black. “It is an interesting color palette and feels a little more European. It’s a subtle way for him to be a little more fashionable without breaking out of the FBI mode,” Tillman said.

Just as Chamberlain owns the blue palette, gray belongs to Winters’ local detective Agnew, a guy who has high aspirations, but an underfunded budget. Subtle styling details to his gray ensembles tell his story: Unbuttoned shirt cuffs that are an inch too long, a loosened tie, a little more wear on his suits.

“The rest of the cast was in a warmer palette…while these two were in blue and gray, harmonious, even though they were still at odds.
“They looked quite pretty together,” Tillman said, “if men are allowed to look pretty.”

“Battle Creek” airs on CBS on Sundays at 10 p.m.

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