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“That’s some catch, that Catch-22.”
At the start of the first look, which was released Wednesday, Yossarian, a U.S. Air Force bombardier in World War II, is requesting to be grounded from his missions.
“Doc, you can ground me if I’m crazy, right? Then ground me, I’m crazy,” he says. In response, the medic explains to him that he is, in fact, not crazy. Citing the “Catch-22” military rule, Yossarian is told, “As soon as you ask to get out of combat duty, you’re no longer crazy and so you have to fly more missions.”
Catch-22, which marks George Clooney’s return to scripted television, is based on Joseph Heller’s 1961 novel and tells the story of the incomparable and artful dodger, Yossarian (Abbott, taking on the role played by Alan Arkin in the 1970 film adaptation), who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy, but rather his own army, which keeps increasing the number of bombing missions the men must fly to complete their service.
But — and here’s the catch — if Yossarian makes any attempt to avoid his military assignments, he’ll be in violation of “Catch-22,” a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule that specifies that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers which are real and immediate is the process of a rational mind; a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but a request to be removed from duty is evidence of sanity and therefore makes him ineligible to be relieved from duty.
Clooney — in his first series regular role since NBC’s ER — portrays Scheisskopf, the training officer and parade enthusiast at the Air Force cadet base where Yossarian is trained; he also directs and executive produces. Kyle Chandler stars in the lead role as Col. Cathcart, the part originally played by Martin Balsam in the 1970 feature.
The trailer gives viewers a sense of the wild and dark humor that can be expected in Clooney’s take on the story as it tackles the absurd horrors of war.
“I’ve flown more missions than anybody on this base and any time I get close, they raise it on me. I can’t do this anymore,” Yossarian complains amid war scenes that range from bloody to an impromptu dance during lineup.
The starry ensemble led by Clooney, Abbott and Chandler also includes Hugh Laurie, Giancarlo Giannini, Daniel David Stewart, Rafi Gavron, Austin Stowell, Graham Patrick Martin, Gerran Howell, Jon Rudnitsky, Kevin J. O’Connor, Pico Alexander, Tessa Ferrer, Lewis Pullman, Josh Bolt, Jay Paulson, Julie Ann Emery and Grant Heslov.
Catch-22 was executive produced by Clooney and Heslov on behalf of Smokehouse Pictures; along with Richard Brown and Steve Golin, who died on Monday, on behalf of Anonymous Content. Luke Davies and David Michôd are co-writers and executive producers.
The six-part limited series from Paramount Television and Anonymous Content was directed by Clooney, Heslov and Ellen Kuras, who also served as producer. The trio directed two episodes each and Clooney appears in three, all of which are set to bow May 17 on Hulu.
Watch the trailer above.
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