Catch-22 is a famous novel, and as it’s a book, I’ve not read it, but now it’s been made into a “limited series”, which means it’s a one-off series that won’t spawn a second…
…Well, author Joseph Heller wrote a sequel in 1994, Closing Time, so if this is successful, I expect we’ll also see that.
For the first episode, we see a group of army bombadiers banding together at a US Air Base Pianosa, in Italy – flying missions to drop bombs on the Germans, only allowing the men to go back home once they’ve achieved 25 missions… IF they survive.
World War II is expected not to run for much longer, but none of the men are eager to fly, and an early fatality brings things home to the men very quickly soon after arriving.
At the time of posting this, I’ve only seen the first episode, and we mostly follow Captain John Yossarian (Christopher Abbott), who wants to get out of them, but the men can only do so if they’re crazy… and once they’ve stated that they’re crazy, then they can’t be deemed crazy due to asking that.. hence, the Catch-22.
George Clooney makes for an amusing Lieutenant General Scheisskopf, but I’ve never read the book and I understood he’s not a major character, but the heavily-shown trailer on Channel 4 was been sold on his presence. However, once they arrive in Italy, the story completely ditches Clooney’s character for the time being.
Similarly, there’s also an amusing turn from Hugh Laurie, as Major de Coverley, but I understand both he and Clooney – who also directs some of the episodes – are only onscreen in three of them.
Without giving spoilers, the first episode passed an hour but it’s a bit dull. I’ll try a second episode, but I certainly wasn’t gripped by it. War is hell, but Catch-22 wasn’t as bad.
Catch-22 begins tomorrow night on Channel 4 at 9pm. The series isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD. You can watch each episode on All 4 for 30 days after transmission.
Episode 1 Score: 4/10
Series Directors: George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Ellen Kuras
Producers: Barbara A Hall, Ellen Kuras
Writers: Luke Davies, David Michôd
Novel: Joseph Heller
Music: Harry Gregson-Williams, Rupert Gregson-Williams
Captain John Yossarian: Christopher Abbott
Colonel Cathcart: Kyle Chandler
Milo: Daniel David Stewart
Aarfy: Rafi Gavron
Orr: Graham Patrick Martin
Lt. Colonel Korn: Kevin J O’Connor
Nately: Austin Stowell
MCWatt: Jon Rudnitsky
Kid Sampson: Gerran Howell
Nurse Duckett: Tessa Ferrer
Major Major: Lewis Pullman
Doc Daneeka: Grant Heslov
Chaplain Tappman: Jay Paulson
Lorenzo: Domenico Cuomo
Leonardo: Giovanni Stocchino
Clevinger: Pico Alexander
Major de Coverley: Hugh Laurie
Lieutenant General Scheisskopf: George Clooney
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.