Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 Gets a TV Adaptation


The hilariously insane and on point war satire novel, “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller, will make its way on to the small screen. The novel is being adapted into a mini-series according to a report from The Telegraph.

The World War II satire, which popularized the phrase “catch-22,” is set from 1942 to 1944. It mainly follows the life of Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier. Most of the events in the book occur while the fictional 256th Squadron is based on the island of Pianosa, in the Mediterranean Sea, west of Italy. The novel looks into the experiences of Yossarian and the other airmen in the camp, who attempt to maintain their sanity while fulfilling their service requirements so that they may return home.

It uses a distinctive non-chronological third-person omniscient narration, describing events from the points of view of different characters. The separate storylines are out of sequence so that the timeline develops along with the plot.

The novel’s title refers to a plot device that is repeatedly invoked in the story. Catch-22 starts as a set of paradoxical requirements whereby airmen mentally unfit to fly did not have to, but could not actually be excused. By the end of the novel it is invoked as the explanation for many unreasonable restrictions. According to the novel, people who were crazy were not obliged to fly missions; but anyone who applied to stop flying was showing a rational concern for their safety, and was sane.

The mini-series will be produced by Passenger, the production company behind the HBO series “True Detective.” It will be directed by David Michod and Australian screenwriter Luke Davies will adapt Heller’s book for TV.

“It’s probably the greatest American novel of all time,” True Detective executive producer and head of Passenger production company, Richard Brown, told The Telegraph.

This marks the third time the novel will be adapted for audiences. It was first made into a film in 1970 that starred Alan Arkin as Yossarian alongside Orson Welles, Martin Sheen, Bob Newhart and Art Garfunkel.

“I love the movie. I think it was great but I wish it was six hours long—I think it needs to be to get all the important bits in there… There is too much there to condense into a two-hour film,” Brown told The Telegraph.

Three years after the release of the 1970 film, a TV adaptation of the novel starring Richard Dreyfuss was released. A TV pilot was released but a full series was not produced.

Currently, there is no word on when the miniseries will premiere or who the production company or director is eyeing to star.

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