Like Heller's 1961 novel, the series is set in Italy during WWII and centers on a bombardier named Yossarian (portrayed by Christopher Abbott) who desperately wants "to come down alive" from every mission he goes up on. However, he and his squadron are being led by Colonel Cathcart (Kyle Chandler), who's got a decreasing solicitude for his soldiers' lives and keeps sending them back to the battlefield again and again.
"Some of you will not be coming back; there's no other way of telling you that. Basic statistics tell us that," he sternly warns the his petrified platoon. "If in your final moments you see death, think not of death. Think of the living and know this: your sacrifice will not be in vain."
That's hardly the "clear eyes, full hearts"-style pep talk Chandler's fans are used to, then, is it?
Yossarian begins to recognize that his enemies on the field are only half of his problem right about now, as there's a bureaucratic rule that's subverting his attempts to escape: if you're sane enough to ask to leave the missions, you're ineligible to depart your service, and yet, you need to be insane to actually complete them. In other words, there's no way out — if you're not of sound mind, you're mission-ready and won't ask to leave, and if you're not crazy, you're not allowed to go either. Our hero, who doesn't feel much like one, is stuck in a never-ending cycle of thwarting death.
Chandler's Cathcart isn't the only looney war-monger in the bunch, either. There's also Scheisskopf (George Clooney), the parade-obsessed lieutenant who's quickly promoted through the ranks due to his fervor for pomp and circumstance. Wait for the moment when he asks to see proof that his cadet has suffered an injury to his private parts. Wait for it.
Clooney co-produced and directed all six episodes of this adaptation, which debuts on Hulu on May 17. Hip hip ... hooray!