Hulu has had plenty of literary adaptations added to its catalogue of original programming over the years. “The Handmaid’s Tale” brought it acclaim on its biggest scale yet, but no project has taken on something quite like “Catch-22.”
The trailer for the series below shows Christopher Abbott as the novel’s classic protagonist Yossarian, who tries to do everything he can to avoid being stuck in the crosshairs of World War II. One of the forces keeping him on the battlefield is Lieutenant Scheisskopf, played here by the majestically mustachioed George Clooney. (Fingers crossed that “Who’s on First”-style routine with the stenographer is a sign of more things to come. And, unless another cast member has his particular salt-and-pepper sprinkle when viewed from behind, it looks like he’ll be doing a very involved arm dance, as well?)
The six-part series features a plentiful ensemble, also headlined by Hugh Laurie and Kyle Chandler. A co-production with Italy’s Sky Italia, this version of “Catch-22” was co-written by “Lion” scribe Luke Davies and “Animal Kingdom” director David Michôd. Adapting the story’s action on the ground, in rousing speeches from Chandler’s Colonel Cathcart, and in the air, with some dangerous-looking dogfights, these half-dozen installments look to give a full picture of what might be driving Yossarian to madness.
After one major film adaptation and plenty of nods across the entertainment landscape, the classic American novel is ready for the TV treatment. In the six and a half decades since Joseph Heller first published it in 1953, “Catch-22” most notably became a 1970 Mike Nichols film, starring Alan Arkin as Yossarian and Martin Balsam as Cathcart.
Speaking at the recent Television Critics Association press tour, series producer and director Grant Heslov said, “The horror and hilarity becomes even more pronounced. The horror becomes even bigger and hopefully funnier, as well. We wanted to keep the tone real.” In addition to Heslov, additional directors on the series include Ellen Kuras and Clooney, who will each take a pair of episodes.
Watch the trailer for the series (including a very unfortunate anatomical fate for one unsuspecting pilot) below:
“Catch-22” premieres May 17 on Hulu.