Preview: Catch-22


If you missed last week’s opening episode of Catch-22, do yourself a favour and get it on catch up. The show has attracted some negative attention because George Clooney had the temerity to direct a serialised version of a classic film of a classic novel. Well, to the haters, tough luck, because this adaptation is really rather good.

Based on Joseph Heller’s seminal satirical novel it follows the bleak, absurd existence of American bomber crews stationed in southern Italy during the Second World War. Seen through the eyes of reluctant bombardier, Yossarian (Christopher Abbott), this is a beautifully shot, charismatic howl at the moon, that is both comic and tragic as it wrestles with the military’s readiness to spend lives so late in a war and the insanity behind Catch-22; the hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule that reasons a concern for one’s own safety in the face of immediate danger is the process of a rational mind.

Similarly, a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but a request to be removed from active duty is evidence of sanity, which immediately makes him ineligible.

Look out for Kyle Chandler as the hopelessly out of his depth martinet Colonel Cathcart and the wonderful Kevin J O’Connor as a lick-spittle staff officer Lt Colonel Korn, who revels in the protection of his rank to grind anyone below him with the most pedantic interpretations of military discipline.

Catch-22 – Thursday at 9.00pm on Channel 4.