Captain John Yossarian, a World War II bombardier, is stationed on the island of Pianosa. He is an individualist who seeks to protect his own life by fleeing to the hospital, since a "catch-22" in the Air Force regulations prevents him from being grounded for illness or obtaining a leave.
A Respectful Adaptation Of The Classic Anti-War Novel BY Heller
This series captures the essence of Joseph Heller's anti-war novel which I've read many times. Mike Nichol's tried to do so in his 1970 film, but fell short because of, in this viewer's opinion, the limitation of two hours not being enough time to adapt the novel. I believe the novel is a brilliant commentary on the lunacy of war as Heller saw it, which was ahead of it's time. This dark dramedy does an exceptional job displaying the satire and insanity that is expressed in the novel. This series has excellent direction, settings, soundtrack, costume and acting. However the cinematography is outstanding as well as the writing of Michod and Davies. All of the actors deliver superlative performances. In particular Abbott, Laurie, Stewart and Pullman stand out. Clooney's limited time in the series as Lieutenant Scheisskopf is worth it. His dialogue delivery, facial expressions and gesticulations are absolutely priceless. The same goes for Chandler as Colonel Cathcart throughout the series. The plot is set during WWII in Italy and revolves around a squadron of bombardier pilots with the central character being Yossarian A.K.A. Yo-Yo. He is the one man that seems to understand how egregious his situation is and the war is in general, pun intended. With the Germans retreating, Yo-Yo figures out that by convalescence he can get out of completing his required flight missions which starts out at 19. This is where Catch-22, which was coined by Heller, comes into play. Catch-22 is a diabolical military rule which states that if a man declares he is insane to get out of duty, well then he must be a sane man because you'd have to be crazy to fly bombardier missions to begin with therefore you are sane and you can't be discharged from duty. Essentially for all you readers that are unfamiliar with the phrase, it is a situation that is impossible to get out of. To top this off the maniacal Cathcart keeps upping the number of missions needed to complete one's duty and it always happens when a man is just a few missions from completing his duty. The series has all of the main characters from the novel; Yo-Yo, Cathcart, de Coverley, Scheisskopf, Milo, Aardvark, Nurse Duckett, Major Major Major ( that's not a typo) and more. The series does a marvelous job examining certain characters such as de Coverley as he navigates the war in the background as sort of a neutral character who hides in plain sight, Mess Officer Milo as he escapes flying missions by becoming a war profiteer, Major Major Major Major as he gets by solely because of having a name that was given to him as a practical joke by his father and Nurse Duckett who is on Yo-Yo's side but sees right through him.. As the missions grow from 19 to 25 to 30 to 55 the stakes get higher for Yo-Yo as he continues to try to find ways to beat the bureaucracy such as flying 11 missions quickly and handing in paperwork all at once before the missions can be raised again. We see the men during down time tying to enjoy a normal life during the most sinister of times. The series scrutinizes what lengths men are pushed to during the stress of war time and what lengths they'll go to in order to rid themselves of the madness. There are so many memorable quotes and scenes in the series. If I had to choose a quote it is when Scheisskopf asks a stenographer to read me back what I just said and the stenographer replies, "Read me back what I just said". The look on Scheisskopf's face is uproarious. My favorite scene would have to be when Cathcart is berating the squadron on how they missed this huge target in Rome only to have one of the men point out that it is Vatican City. The series is crisp, insightful, captivating, cathartic, duplicitous, gritty, daft, certifiable and blazing. In this viewer's opinion the series does a pronounced job in adapting the novel and respectfully conveys Heller's message. Catch-22 is beguiling and superior in the dark dramedy genre.
36 of 60 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this