Hulu releases trailer for adaptation of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22


Catch-22 is being adapted again. This time, Hulu brings together a host of award winners to try to do justice to the classic Joseph Heller novel in a six-part limited series.

Only a few weeks away from the Catch-22 premiere (May 17), Hulu has released a full trailer for its new six-part limited series.

If you didn’t read the book, let’s start with the basics. In 1961, Joseph Heller published the novel Catch-22. The satirical novel is, at least according to Merriam-Webster, what gave birth to the phrase “catch-22” being used commonly in the English language to mean “a problematic situation for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem or by a rule.”

That’s pretty much what the book (and, therefore, the show) is about. Captain John Yossarian (played on Hulu by Christopher Abbott) is a U.S. Army Air Force bombardier during World War II. The thing is, Yossarian doesn’t want to be there and the Army keeps increasing how many missions he has to fly to be able to go home.

But, as Hulu’s website for the show explains:

"“If Yossarian makes any attempt to avoid his military assignments, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule which 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.”"

So basically, as you can see in the trailer, Yossarian wants to be diagnosed as crazy so he doesn’t have to fly. But being sane enough to ask not to fly proves that he is sane enough to fly, so he has to keep flying.

The trailer keeps to Heller’s satirical and comedic tone. (Much more than the original teaser trailer did a couple of months ago.) Though, it will be interesting if Hulu’s Catch-22 also follows Heller’s novel lead by presenting the story out of chronological order.

My favorite line comes toward the end of the trailer: “You know the difference between me and you? Me: Happy, happy, happy, dead. You: Worry, worry, worry, dead.”

It’s that kind of dark joke surrounding a lot of pain and death (or potential death) that drives Heller’s comedy. It really does feel like the creative team and actors have grasped how to turn something as dark as being stuck fighting in WWII and find the humor.

It’s not an easy job.

Joining Abbot in this show are Emmy Award winner Kyle Chandler (Friday Night LightsBloodline), Golden Globe winner Hugh Laurie (House) and Oscar winner George Clooney (he’s George Clooney).

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According to Deadline’s report, Clooney is also working as an executive producer and director on the show. Grant Heslov and Ellen Kuras are also credited as producers and directors. Each of the three will direct two of the six episodes.

What are your thoughts on this new adaptation of Catch-22? Did you read the novel or see the 1970 movie? Let us know in the comments.