The True Detective producers are working on a TV adaptation of Catch-22

Luke Davies
After giving us one of the most interesting television series in recent years, the production company responsible for HBO’s True Detective has turned its attention to one of the 20th century’s greatest works of literature.

Passenger, the New York-based production company responsible for bringing True Detective to the cable network, is currently working on a series inspired by Joseph Heller’s 1961 novel Catch-22. The acclaimed novel unfolds during World War II and chronicles the paradoxical scenarios that govern the lives of a group of airmen based on a small island in the Mediterranean Sea.

Describing the story as “probably the greatest American novel of all time,” executive producer and production company chief Richard Brown told The Telegraph the project is still in the “very early stages.”

Luke Davies, the screenwriter who penned the James Dean biopic Life, is currently working on the script for the Catch-22 series. Animal Kingdom filmmaker David Michod is attached to direct the series, which will likely take the form of a miniseries akin to the first season of True Detective.

Heller’s novel, which popularized use of the term “Catch-22” to describe impossible situations, followed U.S. Army Air Force Captain John Yossarian and his squadron of bombardiers based on the island of Pianosa during World War II. Faced with the high mortality rate of bombardiers during the war, the members of the squadron struggle to reconcile the paradoxes of their service — particularly the regulation stating that mentally unfit soldiers can avoid flying missions, but any soldiers who avoid flying missions (and therefore show concern for their lives) are deemed sane enough to fly.

Catch-22 was previously adapted as a 1970 film starring Alan Arkin as Yossarian, along with Orson Welles, Bob Newhart, Martin Sheen, and Art Garfunkel in supporting roles. The film failed to win over audiences, despite being a critical success.

“It’s still being written,” said Brown of his team’s upcoming adaptation. “Who knows when it comes out or how long it will be? But we are very excited to make it happen, and we look forward to the challenge.”

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