review by Bobby Blakey
Over the years we have had all sorts of war films and series that take both the serious and comedic approach. In early 2019 producers of Argo and True Detective brought the new limited series CATCH-22 to Hulu starring Christopher Abbott, Kyle Chandler, Hugh Laurie, and George Clooney. Could this show offer something fresh and new in the war or just another forgettable mission?
CATCH-22 follows the adventures and misadventures of a U.S. air squadron in Italy during World War II. Yossarian is a bombardier whose frantic obsession every time he goes up on a mission is “to come down alive.” The real enemy for Yossarian and his rag-tag bunch of friends is the bureaucracy of the military, inverting logic at every turn. The pinnacle of this is Catch-22, a military by-law which states that if you fly your missions, you’re crazy, and don’t have to fly them; all you have to do is ask. But if you ask not to, then you’re sane, and so you have to fly them.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this series and in the first episode it was kind of all over the place with the drama, comedy and insanity as it tried to find its footing. What I soon realized is that this was the show and as it moved through the series became very clear it was all by design and made total sense to the insanity of it all. While this is a dark comedy it surely isn’t always funny dealing with the very real craziness of war and being screwed over during wartime. The story is great but horribly frustrating to see all the varying ways the military screwed over Yoyo no matter what he did right or wrong. It makes you wonder how many people died or suffered due to these same situations during the war and it will no doubt irritate you to no end.
When not dealing with the heavy nature and effects of the war which is most of the time it offers up some laughs and a kind of Mash vibe as Yoyo keeps coming up with different scams to get discharged. I was pleasantly surprised to how well the comedy and war violence and drama worked together. All of the characters are entertaining whether they are likable or deplorable and there is a variety of both. Some of the most entertaining are those in command with both Georg Clooney and Kyle Chandler. Both of them bring some big laughs being over the top and sometimes moronic characters made all the funnier with them being in charge.
The visuals here are excellent with the ongoing bombing missions fun to watch and often times intense. These are an ongoing part of the series with at least one if not more occurring each episode. This is a pivotal aspect to the show as everything going on is based on these missions so if it doesn’t deliver then everything falls apart. Thankfully they are a great element to the show and with each mission you see a decent of the characters as the missions and war take their toll.
This collection features all 6 episodes of the series as well as bonus content including deleted scenes, outtakes, and numerous featurettes taking you behind bringing this series to life. Join the missions and grab your copy of CATCH-22 when it hits DVD on November 19th from Paramount Home Entertainment.