George Clooney leads and stars in Hulus's satisfactory adaptation of Joseph Heller's novel.
This is a (mostly) spoiler-free review of Hulu's Catch-22 miniseries. The series is being honored on Friday, May 1
George Clooney makes a successful return to television with Hulu's satisfying 6-episode adaptation of Joseph Heller's seminal novel Catch-22. The former ER leader is leading two of six episodes that effectively capture Heller's satirical tale of a group of B-25 bombarders flying dozens of missions across the Nazi regime in World War II. Clooney also does something fine on the screen as a general called Scheisskopf, but it is Christopher Abbott's captain Yossarian who steals the show.
Catch-22 opens with Yossarian walking naked through a smoky field with a haunted expression on his face. The tired soldier suddenly lets out a shaking scream as if to say … "Enough!" And this is where our story begins. The series is a thought-provoking study of war, bureaucratic stupidity, love, companionship and death. Yossarian acts as the audience's eyes and ears in a madman's world that feels both fantastic and authentic.
In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a Catch-22 is defined as "a problematic situation where the only solution is denied by a circumstance associated with the problem or by a rule," or "a situation presenting two equally undesirable Alternatives. "In Heller's novel (and Hulu's adaptation), Catch-22 is a military rule that does not allow Yossarian to return because he has a rational mind. Asking to go home because of fear of death makes you rational, so you cannot be considered insane. But if you continue to fly missions and do not ask to go home, then you do not have a sensual mind, but when you pray to go home, you are rational again. In principle, you can never go home (unless it is seriously damaged).
Fang 22 is another way to highlight more of the absurdities of war, as Yossarian grows in frustration. Abbott cleverly depicts Yossarian as a ticking time bomb, with every new tragedy and idiotic order he stops making him more explosive. It's a slow descent into madness, that the young actress pulls out well. Sure, Clooney is the big name here, but Catch-22 can be Abbott's "star-making" moment. At the end of the miniseries, Yossarian is one of the most fully realized characters in the latest memory. And although six episodes are sufficient to tell Heller's story, a few hours with Yossarian and his comrades would not have hurt the show's pacing.
After Yossarians' scream heard of the world, Catch-22 goes back to the beginning, where the bombardies are still in basic education. This is where we get our first look at the dubious men chosen to lead these young airmen to battle. Clooney's Scheisskopf is obsessed with how well his boys look at marching, rather than how ready-to-play they are. Clooney seems to have fun as the boisterous drill sergeant type.
When we come to Europe, authoritative stupidity continues with Kyle Chandlers (Colnect Catholics) and Hugh Lauries (House MD) Major de Coverley. In a hilarious scene, Cathcart fails a private named Major Major Major (Lewis Pullman) for a true officer, simply because his name is Major. ("Major" is an entertaining Gomer Pyle type, which should definitely not lead anyone. .) There are other memorable comic moments involving the military highs that flowed through which help bring vitality to balance this war history more harrowing moments.
This section of the story shows the Command's absurdity and those who must obey their orders. Even Scheisskopf strengthens and bumbles before his boss. All officers are only concerned about saving face and, if necessary, blaming others for protecting their own reputation. There is a tragicom sensibility in the series, as these scenes can be entertaining on their face, but many of the mistakes made by the responsible officers lead to countless deaths. Fortunately, Catch-22 doesn't try to romanticize war, even in its more fun moments.
No matter how much screen time each character has, runners Luke Davies and David Michôd show that everyone is getting their moments shining. Although the series only covers a small part of the global conflict, the cultural jealousy of that time seems to be uniformly dispersed throughout the ensemble. From McWatt's (Jon Rudnitsky) "Smile To You Die" outline to Yossarians more nihilistic point of view, it is easy to identify with everyone's perspective … Like "hi, I would probably have all those feelings if I were in The middle of a war. "
Catch-22 does not shun away from the war gravel, and each time Yossarian encounters an eager new recruitment, it's hard not to feel like you're never going to see them again. With the airmen restricted to their aircraft for most of the battles, all the deaths feel very intimate and personal. There are no big battlefields where thousands of soldiers are hit by ammunition … Just a few guys in a plane trying to hit a target from hundreds of feet in the air. The scenes inside the aircraft are very claustrophobic, giving a good deal of excitement and tension as the cacophony of anti-aircraft rounds explodes around them. Like Yossarian, you want the chaotic missions to end as soon as possible.