Battleground (TV series)

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Battleground
Battleground (Hulu) title card.png
Genre Mockumentary
Comedy-drama
Created by J. D. Walsh
Starring Jay Hayden
Teri Reeves
Jack DeSena
Ben Samuel
Lindsey Payne
Jordan T. Maxwell
Alison Haislip
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 13 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) J. D. Walsh
Hagai Shaham
Marc Webb
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s) West High Drama, LLC
Broadcast
Original channel Hulu
Original run February 14, 2012 (2012-02-14) – May 8, 2012 (2012-05-08)

Battleground is a mockumentary comedy-drama web series created by J. D. Walsh streamed on Hulu. The show follows a group of political campaign staffers working to elect a dark horse candidate to the U.S. Senate in the battleground state of Wisconsin. Walsh serves as executive producer alongside Hagai Shaham and Marc Webb.

The show marks Hulu's first foray into original scripted programming. It premiered online on February 14, 2012.

Overview[edit]

The series chronicles the inner workings of a Democratic Party primary campaign for a U.S. Senate seat in Wisconsin.[1] Led by campaign manager Chris "Tak" Davis, the team battles against corrupt politicians and staff infighting while campaigning for a distant third-place candidate.[2]

Cast and characters[edit]

  • Jay Hayden as Chris "Tak" Davis
  • Teri Reeves as Kara "KJ" Jamison
  • Jack DeSena as Cole Graner
  • Ben Samuel as Ben Werner
  • Lindsey Payne as Lindsey Cutter
  • Jordan T. Maxwell as Jordan T. Mosley
  • Alison Haislip as Ali Laurents

Production[edit]

In October 2010, Fox gave a script commitment to the series, which was being written by J. D. Walsh and executive-produced by Walsh and Marc Webb.[3] Fox later passed on making the show.[4] Walsh shot a 20-minute pilot funded by family members.[5] He said no television network was willing to air the series due to its politics-related theme.[6] Hulu later stepped in to produce the series.[6]

Battleground is set in Wisconsin, the childhood home of long-time friends Walsh and Webb.[7] Walsh has also worked for Massachusetts Senator John Kerry in a previous political campaign.[1] In a press release, he said: "People hate politics but they love elections. Campaigns are about good versus evil, our team versus yours, relationships, temptations, power, unimaginable triumphs and heartbreaking defeats. I’m interested in the people behind the people."[8]

The first season was filmed in Walsh's hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, with sets ranging from local homes to a local elementary school.[6] Walsh said he chose to film in Madison instead of Los Angeles because he had a better feel for the people, places and politics and there was a "sense of excitement" among the locals to be a part of the project.[5] As many as 90 local actors were cast.[6] Local WKOW anchors Greg Jeschke and Sabrina Hall appeared in a fake broadcast.[9] To stage large crowds, real-life scenes of fans heading to a University of Wisconsin–Madison football game were used.[6] Walsh calls the show "a love letter to Madison".[6]

List of episodes[edit]

The first season consists of 13 episodes.[4] The series premiere was made available online on February 14, 2012. New episodes were made available each subsequent week on Hulu.[7]

Series # Season # Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1 1 "Pilot" J. D. Walsh J.D. Walsh (actor) February 14, 2012 (2012-02-14)
The episode introduces the race for a Senate seat in Wisconsin. The campaign team for State Senator Deirdre Samuels, who is trailing in the primary polls at third place, led by Tak Davis try to get her opponents to appear in a debate with her.
2 2 "Who Is Claire Villareal?" J.D. Walsh (actor) J.D. Walsh (actor) February 21, 2012 (2012-02-21)
Samuels moves up into second place in the polls but rumors of her being a lesbian are circulated by an anonymous attack ad and a planted question at a campaign event. The campaign team gears up for a straw poll event by stealing tickets from Senator Makers's campaign. Tak engineers a logistics change to ensure Samuels's speech at the straw poll event is well received.
3 3 "Hold The Whipped Cream" J.D. Walsh (actor) J. D. Walsh, Elizabeth Triplett February 28, 2012 (2012-02-28)
Samuels's husband George insists on holding a press conference to dispel rumors of her lesbian affair, but Tak maneuvers reporters to stay away. KJ receives an offer to become campaign manager in a race in Ohio but decides to stay on. The campaign holds a phone-bank fundraiser to raise enough money to buy ad spots on Leno. Jordan makes his stand-up comedy debut which exceeds expectations. Ben and Lindsey's budding relationship grows while Tak's marriage breaks down.
4 4 "The Comment" J.D. Walsh (actor) J. D. Walsh, Justin Abarca March 6, 2012 (2012-03-06)
Tak clashes with his team over a decision he makes when a surprising announcement from the Makers camp changes everything.
5 5 "They'll Burn Your Eyes" J.D. Walsh (actor) J. D. Walsh, Justin Abarca March 13, 2012 (2012-03-13)
When Tak gets a hold of damaging information about Congresswoman Rudy's personal life, Samuels tells him not to release it to continue to run a clean campaign. Meanwhile, while chatting with the documentary crew, Cole stumbles onto a recording of Tak and KJ from the previous night.
6 6 "Polls Close At Six" J.D. Walsh J.D. Walsh March 20, 2012 (2012-03-20)
The campaign must come up with a plan to fight misinformation being circulated by their opponents. Cole confronts KJ about their relationship.
7 7 "Political Machine" J.D. Walsh J.D. Walsh March 27, 2012 (2012-03-27)
The Samuels campaign is told about an endorsement from Sen. Makers. Cole quits as speechwriter, and Jordan must give a speech to local elementary school students. The team discovers that facing Governor Creighton won't be easy, as the lines between allies and enemies begins to blur.
8 8 "Nothing to Hide" J.D. Walsh J.D. Walsh, Justin Abarca April 3, 2012 (2012-04-03)
Tak confronts George about financial misdealings, while KJ feels Cole's absence as she struggles to write a speech for Samuels. Ali causes some friction in Ben and Lindsey's relationship.
9 9 "It's Getting Ugly" J.D. Walsh J.D. Walsh April 10, 2012 (2012-04-10)
A break-in at campaign headquarters rattles the Samuels team, especially George. Tak must juggle his relationships with his father, his wife, and Cole, all while trying to plan a rally on a college campus.
10 10 "Flashback" J.D. Walsh J.D. Walsh April 17, 2012 (2012-04-17)
A flashback to 2004 looks at the relationship between Tak and his father, as well as some other familiar faces, during the Makers re-election campaign. The episode's format is shot and edited as a spoof/homage to MTV's True Life, hosted by real-life former vee-jay Dave Holmes.
11 11 "Nothing About Chile" J.D. Walsh J.D. Walsh, Elizabeth Triplett April 24, 2012 (2012-04-24)
With the election a week away, the DNC sends in a representative to help the Samuels campaign, who clashes with Tak over its direction. The Creighton campaign announces a press conference that leaves Tak trying to figure out what it's about.
12 12 "He's Better Than Television" J.D. Walsh J.D. Walsh, Justin Abarca May 1, 2012 (2012-05-01)
On Halloween, with only two days until the election, Cole opens up about his past, while Samuels must deal with the consequences of hers.
13 13 "Did You Win?" J.D. Walsh J.D. Walsh, Justin Abarca May 8, 2012 (2012-05-08)
On Election Day the team hopes that a last-second endorsement from the President will be enough to bring them victory.

Broadcast[edit]

In its first ever appearance at the Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour on January 15, 2012, Internet streaming site Hulu announced that it will be airing the series online.[2] Hulu's senior vice president of content Andy Forssell said the site picked up the series because it "saw a spark"[4] and "[w]e see what J.D. [Walsh] sees in it and we know the audience is there."[1]

Battleground is Hulu's first original scripted series.[4] The series, along with Hulu's other original documentary series, is available for free rather than on the subscription-based Hulu Plus to enable the site to build its user base and reputation for original programming.[10] The show premiered on February 14, 2012, with a new episode made available online each subsequent week.[7]

Reception[edit]

Battleground's first episode received mixed to positive reviews, with critics noting its relatively low production value but strong writing. The Associated Press's Jake Coyle described the show as a "light, watered-down knockoff of The Office" that comes off like a "student fantasy of playful politics."[11] David Hinckley of the Daily News said the show "parlays [a solid professional cast] into some good jokes, political and otherwise" but viewers "should not expect that ... the look of the show will match what they see on broadcast or cable."[12] Dean Robbins of local newspaper Isthmus called the first episode worthy of comparison to sophisticated modern sitcoms, saying it "distinguishes itself with strong writing and acting, not to mention a distinctive setting."[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Hulu to launch 1st original scripted show, ‘Battleground,’ humorous take on Wisconsin politics". The Washington Post. Associated Press. 2012-01-15. Retrieved 2012-01-17. 
  2. ^ a b Lieberman, David (2012-01-15). "Hulu Unveils Original Slate, Including First Scripted Series ‘Battleground’: TCA". Deadline.com. Retrieved 2012-01-17. 
  3. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (2010-10-04). "New Project At Fox For ‘Lone Star’ Director". Deadline.com. Retrieved 2012-01-17. 
  4. ^ a b c d James, Meg (2012-01-15). "Hulu introduces "Battleground," its first original scripted show". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-01-17. 
  5. ^ a b Robbins, Dean (2012-01-18). "JD Walsh previews new Hulu political drama Battleground, shot in Madison". Isthmus. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Worland, Gayle (2012-01-29). "Hulu.com's first original scripted series takes place in Madison". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved 2012-02-09. 
  7. ^ a b c Rose, Lacey (2012-01-15). "TCA: Hulu Ventures Into Scripted Original Series With Political Dramedy". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2012-01-17. 
  8. ^ Vary, Adam B (2012-01-15). "Hulu launches original scripted programming with political drama 'Battleground'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2012-01-17. 
  9. ^ a b Robbins, Dean (2012-02-14). "Battleground, Episode 1 recap: Meet Deirdre Samuels' campaign staff". Isthmus. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  10. ^ Adegoke, Yinka (2012-01-15). "Hulu challenges cable with first original drama". Chicago Tribune. Reuters. Retrieved 2012-01-17. 
  11. ^ Coyle, Jake (2012-02-10). "Review: Netflix and Hulu's first scripted original series, 'Lilyhammer' and 'Battleground'". Associated Press. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  12. ^ Hinckley, David (2012-02-14). "New ‘Battleground’ gives Hulu a modest start as it enters the original scripted sitcom field". Daily News. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 

External links[edit]