George Clooney‘s Catch 22 miniseries (Hulu, 5.17, six episodes) looks visually similar to Mike Nichols‘ Catch 22 (’70), and they sound alike also. The thinking, I’m sure, was that Clooney’s six-hour version could accommodate more of Joseph Heller’s sprawling World War II saga (Clooney is playing Colonel Scheisskopf, a character ignored by the Nichols version) and that it might feel more satisfying than Nichols’ film, which after all was a critical and commercial bust.
Nichols’ film famously missed the mood and tone of its era. Audiences preferred Robert Altman‘s loose and fraternal M.A.S.H. to Nichols’ somber, handsomely shot arthouse creation.
I’ve mentioned this three or four times, but if you watch the Nichols version in HD on Amazon (which I highly recommend), you really, really need to listen to the Mike Nichols-Steven Soderbergh commentary track, which was originally included on the old 2001 DVD.
The six-part limited series from Paramount Television and Anonymous Content is directed by Clooney, Grant Heslov and Ellen Kuras, who also serves as producer. Each directed two episodes.
Clooney’s cast includes Christopher Abbott as John Yossarian, Kyle Chandler as Colonel Cathcart, Hugh Laurie as Major — de Coverley, Daniel David Stewart as Milo Minderbinder, Austin Stowell as Nately, Rafi Gavron as Aarfy Aardvark, Graham Patrick Martin as Orr, Pico Alexander as Clevinger (who?), Jon Rudnitsky as McWatt, Gerran Howell as Kid Sampson, Lewis Pullman as Major Major Major Major and Heslov as Doc Daneeka.
Nichols and Catch 22 costars on San Carlos set in February ’68.