George Clooney’s ‘Catch-22’ should be your next binge

Truth be told, we can never have enough of George Clooney, on-screen or off of it. And the man has almost everything in life. He has a badass wife — Amal Clooney — who is a world famous barrister by day and supermom by night. He also created a billion dollar worth tequila company, Casamigos, which was sold to Diageo in 2017. An enviable filmography including the likes of the Ocean’s trilogy, Intolerable Cruelty, and Michael Clayton. He is also an outspoken critic on most social issues that plague the country and is a real-life hero given all the social work he does.

He recently made headlines when he and his wife, Amal, launched a mobile application to aid people stuck in legal troubles. The app collects information of those stuck in legal troubles and gives them the best solution to defend themselves. Talk about a novel idea. Along with this, he is also working overtime against several issues that currently plague the country like gun control and the refugee crisis. And his decade-long crusade against Sudan has finally borne fruit after the corrupt incumbent leader of the country was exiled and overthrown after a civil uprising in the country.

But we have missed him on-screen. He was last seen in 2016’s forgettable ‘Money Monster’ opposite Julia Roberts where he played a flailing television news anchor. But now he is all set to make a comeback, and how. The actor-director is all set to make his return in Hulu’s limited series, Catch-22. Not only will he be acting in the series, he is also set to produce it and direct some of its episodes as well. And to think that he said no to doing this series till he was sent the script. You have heard about a Catch-22 situation before, right?

Why have you heard of Catch-22 before?

The phrase Catch-22 was coined by American novelist Joseph Heller in his novel of the same name that was released in 1961. Catch-22 basically is used to define a paradoxical situation from which a person cannot escape because of contrarian condition working against them at all points. An example of this has been mentioned on Wikipedia: “How am I supposed to gain experience [to find a good job] if I’m constantly not hired because I don’t have experience?” Catch-22 is about a person getting stuck in a rigged system that provides no escape route owing to rules and regulations that provide no relief.

Joseph Heller’s novel revolves around the life of the soldiers who are stuck in duty in World War II.  It follows the life and times of the character Captain John Yossarian from 1942 to 1944. It is also about the life of other airmen in the fictionalised 256th squadron who try to eek out of service in an attempt to return home alive. The novel has been split into segments and follows multiple storylines but most of them end up merging with Yossarian’s storyline. The book has been touted as one of the most significant novels of the twentieth century.

According to Wikipedia: “The term is introduced by the character Doc Daneeka, an army psychiatrist who invokes ‘Catch-22’ to explain why any pilot requesting mental evaluation for insanity — hoping to be found not sane enough to fly and thereby escape dangerous missions — demonstrates his own sanity in creating the request and thus cannot be declared insane. This phrase also means a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.”

This looks like the perfect project for Clooney to sink his teeth into, and make a comeback.

What we know about the series this far

Judging by its initial trailers, it looks like this mad-cap dark comedy is going to stick to its source material as much as possible. However, there is one significant change. The creators and George Clooney in particular have chosen to tone down the misogyny that was present in the book and given more meatier roles to the the women who are a part of the series. It turns out that one of the main conditions to get Clooney on board, was the decision to tone down the misogyny. And for that he was given approval on the script it seems.

The six-episode limited series is set to drop on Hulu on May 17 this year. It stars George Clooney as Scheisskopf, Christopher Abbott as Captain John Yossarian and Hugh Laurie as Major de Coverley. The series also stars Kyle Chandler as Colonel Cathcart and Tessa Ferrer as Nurse Duckett and Grant Heslov as Doctor Daneeka who coins the phrase Catch-22 The series was largely shot in Italy and its neighbouring areas. It is being produced by Anonymous Content, Paramount Television and Smokehouse Pictures along with George Clooney. And though it is a limited series, chances of it being renewed for a second season have not been ruled out just yet.

Clooney has gone on the record and said that even though he turned down the opportunity to do this initially, he was drawn into the project by the idea of seeing how a literary classic could be adapted on screen. Though a movie on the source material was made in 1971 starring Orson Welles and Alan Arkin and Art Garfunkel, Clooney wanted to make the new series keeping in mind the existing conditions in the world. And if the trailers indicate anything, it might just be better than the last one.

What to expect from George Clooney?

Hulu released a featurette on the making of the show which has Clooney opening about how the show deals with the oscillating themes of satire and life-altering reality from moment to moment. According to Indiewire: “Clooney’s Lieutenant Scheisskopf is a gleefully unhinged authority figure – he wonders how far, exactly, he could push the character’s eccentricities – while Abbott, by contrast, talks about his efforts to make Yossarian’s struggle to leave the service feel more grounded.” But because Clooney is donning multiple hats in this series, it will be interesting to see how he juggles between them.

In reality, the book deals with these themes rather deftly and has a satirical undertone that is able to pull off the entire premise with aplomb. And how Clooney and his team are able to successfully translate it to the screen is yet to be seen. But more than anything, the book and the series are a commentary on how bureaucracies function. One of the shows core team members said: “This story to me is particularly relevant now when we see what’s happening around us and the kind of absurd decisions that are being made, not for the best interest of mankind, but for the best interest of corporations or for themselves.”

Whatever the case may be, we just cannot wait for May 17 to be here soon enough.

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