• Network: HULU
  • Series Premiere Date: May 17, 2019
Metascore
70

Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 34
  2. Negative: 1 out of 34
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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Malcolm Venable
    May 14, 2019
    95
    Bringing this work to TV was a risky move, but the finished product is exceedingly well done and, at a time when government gobbledygook has trumped all previous notions of unbelievability, perhaps more urgent than anyone could have predicted.
  2. Reviewed by: Hank Stuever
    May 16, 2019
    90
    Hulu’s version — written and created by Luke Davies and David Michôd and shepherded by executive producer George Clooney and others — strips “Catch-22” down to its essential brilliance and then builds it back up into a sweeping, beautifully filmed, humorous yet tragic tale of a young man forever changed by war.
  3. TV Guide Magazine
    Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    May 9, 2019
    90
    With vivid unsettling and graphically dark whimsy, executive producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov adapt this classic in a new six-hour miniseries that sharply captures the appropriately cynical tone of broad satire, interrupted by the sheer terror of airborne combat. [13-26 May 2019, p.10]
  4. Reviewed by: Amy Glynn
    May 17, 2019
    89
    Hulu’s Catch-22 is considerably more linear than Heller’s original novel, but not in a way that sacrifices the anti-bureaucracy-and antistupidity-message. As panic stricken bombardier John Yossarian, Christopher Abbott successfully takes on a role that was thoroughly owned by Alan Arkin. He’s convincing, equally so in dramatic and comedic moments (and there are plenty of both). ... At risk of overusing the word “Zeitgeist,” Catch-22 is a meaningful, enduring example of it.
  5. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    May 17, 2019
    88
    Some of the comedy will remind you of “MASH,” but Heller’s novel actually came first. It’s not easy to balance a whip-smart farce about military bureaucracy with deadly serious wartime issues, but “Catch-22” does just that.
  6. Reviewed by: Niv M. Sultan
    May 15, 2019
    88
    Catch-22 is tautly structured, rarely wasting a second as it rapidly cuts away from scenes mid-conversation or mid-word, zigzagging between satirical depictions of war’s inanity—best exemplified by the upper command’s idiocy—and sublime visions of its horror. The series invites our laughter, contemplation, and shock in equal measure.
  7. Reviewed by: Adrian Horton
    Dec 3, 2019
    80
    Clooney’s adaptation is immediately impressive – visually deserving of a bigger than a laptop screen – with a cohesive, arid palette and shots ranging wildly in scope from resonant closeup to sweeping landscape. But it takes a couple of episodes to settle into the show’s polarizing rhythm, which is less a film-making issue than the high-level entry to the source material’s cunning conceit.
  8. Time
    Reviewed by: Judy Berman
    May 21, 2019
    80
    To its credit, Catch-22 doesn't harp on the parallels between Heller's era and today. In 2019, satire means trusting your audience to know that deranged leadership springs eternal. [27 May 2019, p.55]
  9. Reviewed by: Melanie McFarland
    May 20, 2019
    80
    Without Clooney stealing all the sunlight Chandler’s forceful performance deserves some Emmy notice. But the lack of effectively written and delivered humor in “Catch-22” downgrades it from a flawless flight to merely a very good one. The adaptation misses a few of Heller’s main targets, but hits enough of the notes to make it a worthy undertaking.
  10. Reviewed by: Sophie Gilbert
    May 17, 2019
    80
    While the pared-down plot of Catch-22 means the series almost never drags (a rarity for a streaming show), the flip side is that some supporting characters lose their significance. ... Still, in its final episodes, Catch-22 finds its emotional core, as well as its best moments of tragicomedy.
  11. Reviewed by: Matthew Gilbert
    May 15, 2019
    80
    It’s a fine piece of work that stands solidly on its own as a collection of intertwined set pieces that build chronologically to an emotionally devastating climax.
  12. Reviewed by: Tim Goodman
    May 8, 2019
    80
    Surprisingly effective miniseries. ... Even if you haven't read the book or can't quite recall all the participants, it comes back to you, but it's still a challenge to differentiate everyone. Some fans will no doubt wish certain characters had bigger roles or might have minor irritations over how things were condensed, but overall the pacing is strong and the inclusion thorough.
  13. Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    May 17, 2019
    75
    Clooney and company have tried their utmost to navigate the swervy Catch-22. It may well be the last such effort. And they fare better than the movie did without fully sticking the landing. Then again, who could? Bronze stars to all.
  14. Reviewed by: Mark A. Perigard
    May 16, 2019
    75
    When “Catch-22” takes to the skies, it soars. The aerial sequences are some of the best visuals seen in any TV production, beautiful and terrifying.
  15. Reviewed by: Terry Terrones
    May 14, 2019
    75
    Set in a life-or-death environment, themes of integrity, greed, justice and irony are all over this series. It’s an unusual combination, but they blend well, making “Catch-22” a great viewing experience. Initially, Yoyo is a hard character to support. ... It’s not until episode three that he can be viewed as a sympathetic character.
  16. Reviewed by: Kristen Baldwin
    May 10, 2019
    75
    Hulu’s Catch-22 is a largely faithful adaptation that preserves a substantial amount Heller’s brilliantly elliptical prose. Abbott brings a disarming vulnerability to his performance as the pragmatically selfish Yossarian, while David Daniel Stewart is a lively standout as the fast-talking mess hall magnate Milo Minderbinder.
  17. Reviewed by: Ben Travers
    May 8, 2019
    75
    “Catch-22” isn’t quite wild enough to join TV’s elite satires or sharp enough to leave a mark as lasting as its source material. But it has its moments, and those moments add up to an entrancing experience.
  18. Reviewed by: Rob Owen
    May 13, 2019
    72
    Six hours may be an hour too many given the repetitive nature of the plot (the required mission count rises, then rises again and again) but star Christopher Abbott makes for a likeable, relatable Yossarian. It’s sometimes difficult to tell the supporting flyers apart but as the episodes unroll their personalities come through a bit more.
  19. Reviewed by: Troy Patterson
    May 20, 2019
    70
    The adaptation is often rote and merely serviceable. Some scenes are inspired in their brutality, but this “Catch-22” seems, incongruously, to want to inspire its audience.
  20. Reviewed by: Kristi Turnquist
    May 15, 2019
    70
    Though there are some appallingly comical notes, the Hulu “Catch-22” is more affecting than the movie, because it doesn’t stoop to easy cynicism. At times, it recalls the TV version of “M*A*S*H,” though “Catch-22” ultimately feels more sad and mournful than humorous, despite moments of skillful caricature.
  21. 70
    It works better as a TV show than you might think, though not well enough to quell the feeling that we have yet to see an adaptation as scathing as the source material. It’s at its best in lyrical moments, showing, say, a group of handsome young men haloed in golden light as they goof around on a Mediterranean shore, or a spray of blood spattering a bomber’s cockpit, or a tight close-up of a man’s eyes as sanity deserts him.
  22. Reviewed by: Daniel D'Addario
    May 8, 2019
    70
    The new series works better than it should. It elides some of the worst of the novel’s degradation of women, streamlines as best it can the most verbose of the vignettes and builds out Yossarian — played by Christopher Abbott in a performance that announces the leading-man arrival of a long-simmering talent — into a character whose angst we feel. Yet the series, in thrall to and in the shadow of one of the most sharply written novels of its era, never finds a way to live on its own.
  23. Reviewed by: Verne Gay
    May 17, 2019
    63
    Good (and good-looking) production, but without contemporary relevance, urgency or edge.
  24. Reviewed by: Ed Cumming
    Jan 3, 2020
    60
    Lots of people will like Catch-22, especially those who thought the book was impossible to do well on screen. In the end it left me cold. Six hours is a long time without sympathy.
  25. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    May 17, 2019
    60
    A production that's intriguing but ultimately as thin as it is handsome, and emotionally removed in a way that dilutes the larger impact. For those reasons and perhaps others, unlike its conflicted hero, Catch-22 never quite takes off.
  26. Reviewed by: Nick Allen
    May 16, 2019
    60
    For a series that gradually loses its sharpness in its commentary on power and masculinity in wartime, Abbott’s performance constantly reminds you of what's so great about Heller’s book, but also what is timeless in making a dark comedy about war.
  27. Reviewed by: Alan Sepinwall
    May 15, 2019
    60
    Of the sprawling cast, only a handful of actors even consistently seem to be aware that they’re in a comedy (albeit a very dark one). ... The songs, even the ballads, have rhythm and forward momentum that Catch-22 consistently lacks. The humor stumbles when it should swing.
  28. Reviewed by: Vinnie Mancuso
    May 8, 2019
    60
    Catch-22 is actually a more interesting, engaging show when it meanders, just kinda living dreamily among the odd cast of characters that populate the base around Yossarian.
  29. Reviewed by: Erik Adams
    May 16, 2019
    58
    Some bright spots aside—moments of inspired physical comedy from the erstwhile Dr. Doug Ross; a properly crackling translation of the promotion and closed-door policy of the fortunately named Major Major Major (Lewis Pullman)—settle instead for a tone that’s less about the maddening pointlessness of war and more about its bloody horrors, complete with mournful instrumental score.
  30. Reviewed by: Mike Hale
    May 17, 2019
    50
    A conventional, mostly laugh-free war story whose dominant notes are nostalgia, sentimentality and a resigned chagrin.
  31. Reviewed by: Robert Lloyd
    May 16, 2019
    50
    There are some admirable things in the series, some of which reflect the source material, and some of which work on their own terms, but generally speaking, the better you know the book, the more likely you are to yell at the screen, in the later episodes especially. Where it strikes off on its own, whether in dialogue or wholly new scenes, it tends to get obvious and flat.
  32. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    May 16, 2019
    50
    Scenes between actors are often funny and rich. And then the picture wanders off to find another human encounter, leaving dead air in its wake. ... While the performances can be both comic and moving, the actors are mostly playing types—there’s a sense of Central Casting to the characterizations, which may be the intent of directors Clooney, Heslov and Kuras, or their writers.
  33. Reviewed by: Glenn Garvin
    May 30, 2019
    45
    The Nichols film still gleams with the diamond-hard fury of the book and echoes with its mad laughter. The tepid Hulu series has neither. Next to the movie, the Hulu series looks like a pallid corpse drained by a vampire.
  34. 25
    All of the zany genius of Heller’s 1961 best-selling novel has been sapped from Hulu’s new six-episode adaptation, which begins streaming Friday, May 17. And the humor is nowhere to be found.
User Score
6.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 37 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 37
  2. Negative: 6 out of 37
  1. May 21, 2019
    0
    I gave this series two episodes, but I had to give up because it is so boring and doesn't capture the humor of the book. Clooney and hisI gave this series two episodes, but I had to give up because it is so boring and doesn't capture the humor of the book. Clooney and his partner think they are so clever, but most of the stuff they do is pretentious garbage. I don't think they understand the tone of the book. Clooney shouldn't have let his partner direct the pilot OR star in it. Ugh. Full Review »
  2. May 22, 2019
    5
    Abbott sweats just as the creator does and we do, it is good, but you can see the extra effort being applied.

    Catch-22 Luke Davies and David
    Abbott sweats just as the creator does and we do, it is good, but you can see the extra effort being applied.

    Catch-22

    Luke Davies and David Michod distributes caution flyers before their play starts up. It has a catch. They have tried to walk that fine line between comedy and drama, it may serve the purpose but it may not be served up front. You, as an audience, are asked to compromise, to let go off plenty of things before you join in on their camp and work hard and earn your price. Joseph Heller's adaptation of this novel has had better versions. It certainly is more engaging and crowded but it also takes up a notch, for the shocks and thrills; unfortunately it doesn't bode well especially when it goes dark.

    Out of many, many elements spread around the six chapters, the "missions remaining" countdown on the screen is the best and the most successful one. The annoyance of our lead character, Christopher Abbott communicates with us and the anger shared. On terms of humor, Hugh Laurie as an utterly confident Major gets a huge chunk of it along with his co-star and dear friend George Clooney sharing the laughs with a stereotypical commands-gone-wrong gags. There is a certain amount of light in your eyes visible as soon as they appear on screen.

    Abbott as the frustrated and often flawed protagonist ultimately- after a long tiring and effortful battle with us- gets the empathy from us. With undergone loads of jarring information about the day to day politics of this camp, Abbott learns to be shameless like them, in the end, literally! Often the series tends to stretch, just for one joke or one punch which can be a test of patience for the viewers to sit through it. The term Catch-22, just like it is defined in the series, is confined in its self-created loop and no one, no one has the guts to break that wheel.
    Full Review »
  3. May 21, 2019
    6
    This iteration of Catch-22 was beautifully shot, well acted, but the writing forgot the funny