Catch-22 is a satirical dark comedy miniseries based on the 1961 novel of the same name by Joseph Heller.
Limited series adaptation of the classic Joseph Heller novel, which follows Captain John Yossarian and airmen in World War II.
Refer to the 1970 film of the same name.
John Yossarian (Christopher Abbott) is a United States Army Air Forces bombardier in World War II, furious that thousands of people are trying to kill him and that his own army keeps increasing the number of missions he must fly. He is trapped by the bureaucratic rule Catch-22, which considers a willingness to fly dangerous combat missions to be insane, yet a request to be relieved of duty on the grounds of insanity to be the process of a rational mind, so any such request must be denied.
He chose bombardier hoping the war would finish before his lengthy training but now sits exposed in the nose of a B-25 dropping bombs on strangers who are trying to kill him, unless he is avoiding flying by feigning illness, sabotaging his intercom, self-inflicted illness, or clandestinely moving the bomb line so it appears their target has already been captured.
The events occur in the Mediterranean theatre of World War II while the fictional 256th US Army Air Squadron is based on the (fictionalised) island of Pianosa, in the Mediterranean Sea, and conducting bombing raids over heavily defended fascist controlled Italy.
- Christopher Abbott as Captain John Yossarian.
- Kyle Chandler as Colonel Cathcart.
- Daniel David Stewart as Milo Minderbinder.
- Rafi Gavron as Aarfy Aardvark.
- Graham Patrick Martin as Ivor Orr.
- Lewis Pullman as Major Major Major Major.
- Austin Stowell as Nately.
- Pico Alexander as Clevinger.
- Jon Rudnitsky as McWatt.
- Gerran Howell as Kid Sampson
- Hugh Laurie as Major – de Coverley.
- Giancarlo Giannini as Marcello.
- George Clooney as Major (later Colonel and eventually Brigadier General) Scheisskopf.
- Grant Heslov as Doc Daneeka.
- Kevin J. O’Connor as Lieutenant Colonel Korn.
- Julie Ann Emery as Marion Scheisskopf.
- Josh Bolt as Dunbar.
- Tessa Ferrer as Nurse Duckett.
- Jay Paulson as The Chaplain.
- Harrison Osterfield as Snowden.
Around 2014, producer Richard Brown, writer Luke Davies and writer-director David Michôd discussed properties that they would like to tackle in limited series format similar to True Detective, which Brown had just executive produced. Davies brought up Heller’s novel, which the trio agreed would benefit from a longer treatment than the two hours of Mike Nichols’ 1970 feature film. The screen rights to the novel were held by Paramount Television where Anonymous Content had a deal. Davies and Michôd co-wrote the adaptation, which Brown developed at Anonymous. Michôd was originally set to direct until he became unavailable as a long-gestating feature film of his moved forward in production. The producers asked George Clooney to direct. He, along with his producing partner and frequent collaborator Grant Heslov, came on board as directors and executive producers.
On 16 November 2017, the production was announced. On 12 January 2018, it was announced that Hulu was in negotiations for the series and two days later it was confirmed that the production had been given a six episode order. On 16 March 2018, it was announced that Ellen Kuras was joining Clooney and Heslov in directing. They each directed two episodes, and Kuras also served as an executive producer. On 07 May 2018, it was announced that Italy’s Sky Italia was joining the production as a co-producer.
Alongside the series order announcement, it was reported that in addition to directing the series George Clooney had been cast in the role of Colonel Cathcart. On 09 March 2018, it was announced that Christopher Abbott had been cast in the lead role of John Yossarian. On 03 April 2018, it was announced that Hugh Laurie had joined the main cast in the role of Major de Coverley. On 13 April 2018, it was announced that Clooney would no longer be playing the role of Colonel Cathcart and would instead assume the smaller supporting role of Major (later Colonel and eventually General) Scheisskopf. It was simultaneously announced that Kyle Chandler would be replacing him in the role of Cathcart. On 03 May 2018, it was reported that Daniel David Stewart, Austin Stowell, Rafi Gavron, Graham Patrick Martin, Pico Alexander, Jon Rudnitsky, Gerran Howell, and Lewis Pullman had joined the supporting cast as members of the “Merry Band.” A few days later, it was announced that Tessa Ferrer and Jay Paulson had been cast as Nurse Duckett and The Chaplain, respectively. Towards the end of the month, it was reported that Giancarlo Giannini had been cast in the role of Marcello. On 13 June 2018, it was announced that Harrison Osterfield had been cast in the role of Snowden. On 09 July 2018, it was reported that Julie Ann Emery had been cast in the recurring role of Marion Scheisskopf.
Principal photography was scheduled to commence at the end of May 2018 in Sardinia and Viterbo in Italy. On 10 July 2018, George Clooney was struck by a car while riding a motorcycle to the set of the series. He was taken to a hospital in Olbia where he was released later that same day. Filming for the series concluded on 04 September 2018, in Santa Teresa Gallura, Italy.
Four original aircraft were sourced for the filming of the miniseries: two North American B-25 Mitchell medium bombers, a Douglas C-47 Skytrain military transport, and a Junkers Ju 52 transport.
- B-25J Mitchell: 44-30423 (N3675G) “Photo Fanny,” manufactured in the United States by North American Aviation. Sourced from Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, California, US. Portrayed in the miniseries as the fictional “Fly Me Hight!”
- B-25J Mitchell: 45-8898 (N898BW) “Axis Nightmare,” manufactured in the United States by North American Aviation. Sourced from Tri-State Warbird Museum in Batavia, Ohio, US.
- C-47A Skytrain: 42-100884 (TS423/N147DC) “Mayfly,” manufactured by Douglas Aircraft Company in the US. Sources from Aces High in North Weald, England.
- Ju 52/3m: T.2B-212 (F-AZJU), manufactured by Junkers in Germany. Sourced from Jean-Baptiste Salis, in La Ferte-Alais, France.
By comparison, the 1970 film adaptation of Catch-22 featured 18 original B-25 Mitchells. Seventeen were in flying condition and one non-flyable example was destroyed in the filming of the crash landing scene. Fifteen of the 18 bombers used in that film remain intact to this day.
The series premiered on 17 May 2019. In the UK, the series aired on Channel 4. In France, it aired on Canal+. In Australia, it was streamed on Stan. In Canada, it was streamed on Citytv Now.
- The name of George Clooney’s character is Scheisskopf. In German, “kopf” means “head” (in both the anatomical and hierarchical senses) and “scheiss” is a vulgarism meaning “faeces” (and having the same colloquial meaning as the English word “shit”).
- So translated literally, “Scheisskopf” means “shithead,” though that exact insult does not exist in German.
- Two functioning B-25 aircraft were brought from the US to Sardinia to be used in aerial scenes.
- More planes were added digitally in post production.
- In the novel, Yossarian’s first name, John, is not revealed until the very end of the book, despite him being the main character.
Production & Filming Details
- George Clooney … (2 episodes, 2019).
- Grant Heslov … (2 episodes, 2019).
- Ellen Kuras … (2 episodes, 2019).
- Richard Brown … executive producer (6 episodes, 2019).
- George Clooney … executive producer (6 episodes, 2019).
- Luke Davies … executive producer (6 episodes, 2019).
- Steve Golin … executive producer (6 episodes, 2019).
- Barbara A. Hall … producer (6 episodes, 2019).
- Grant Heslov … executive producer (6 episodes, 2019).
- Kari Hobson … co-producer (6 episodes, 2019).
- Ellen Kuras … producer (6 episodes, 2019).
- David Michôd … executive producer (6 episodes, 2019).
- Martha T. Newman … associate producer (6 episodes, 2019).
- Jason Ramos … co-producer (6 episodes, 2019).
- Enzo Sisti … line producer: Italy (6 episodes, 2019).
- Luke Davies … (developed by) (6 episodes, 2019).
- Luke Davies … (teleplay by) (5 episodes, 2019).
- Luke Davies … (written by) (1 episode, 2019).
- Joseph Heller … (based on the book by) (6 episodes, 2019).
- David Michôd … (developed by) (6 episodes, 2019).
- David Michôd … (teleplay by) (5 episodes, 2019).
- David Michôd … (written by) (1 episode, 2019).
- Harry Gregson-Williams … (6 episodes, 2019).
- Rupert Gregson-Williams … (6 episodes, 2019).
- Martin Ruhe … (6 episodes, 2019).
- Michael Ruscio … (3 episodes, 2019).
- Tanya M. Swerling … (3 episodes, 2019).
- Anonymous Content.
- Paramount Television.
- Smokehouse Pictures.
- Amazon Prime Video (2019) (Germany) (TV).
- DiziMax (2019) (Turkey) (TV) (Dizimax Vice).
- Hulu (2019) (USA) (TV).
- Paramount Home Entertainment (2019) (Germany) (DVD).
- Universal Pictures (2019) (Germany) (DVD) (release through).
- Release Date: 17 May 2019.
- Running Time: 41-46 minutes (per episode).
- Rating: TV-MA.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.