TV Review: Catch-22 Begins in a Nightmare and Spirals All the Way Down

The Pitch: The ostensible idea of military training is to break a man down. The normal end of that saying is “so you can build him back up,” but what Joseph Heller’s 1961 novel Catch-22 posits is that there’s no actual building up to follow. A man is given enough training to be fitted for a uniform and sent off to fight, and the war itself continues to break him down, and down, and down, until he’s either dead, a beast, or a walking shell with marching orders and a set of dog tags. However, Catch-22 is also a comedy, in the way that a novel about the bottomless sadism of warfare can be funny. Previously adapted as a film in 1970, Catch-22 now comes to Hulu in the form of a six-part miniseries. Where the novel inhabits numerous characters’ points of view, the miniseries specifically focuses on Air Force bombardier Yossarian (Christopher Abbott), a young man desperate to meet his mission quota and finally be sent home from the cyclical terror of his tour. After all, on the Mediterranean island of Pianosa, the men mostly just kill time in brothels, drink beer, and wait to die or go home, whichever comes first. Each day he wanders […]

TV Review: Game of Thrones Gets Mad and Throws One Hell of a Party in “The Last of the Starks”

The Pitch: The good guys (so far as there are any good guys in Game of Thrones) are licking their wounds and burying their dead after the Battle of Winterfell. But after a time to mourn, there’s also a time to celebrate, and to start thinking about what tomorrow looks like, now that there is a tomorrow to think about. The first half of “The Last of the Starks” builds to that festive atmosphere, one that lets our heroes bask and joke and revel in the afterglow of their victory, before whatever comes next. What comes next, though, is more goodbyes, more friction, and more plans to firmly and finally take the Iron Throne. After “The Great War” is finished, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and company want to immediately turn their attention to dethroning Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) and taking King’s Landing before her enemies have time to regroup. But Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Arya (Maisie Williams) have their doubts over whether she’s fit to rule, while Euron’s (Pilou Asbæk) forces have been lying in wait all this time. It’s a series of blows from within and without for the Dragon Queen, and a big win for Cersei. It all […]

Saturday Night Live Highlights: Kit Harrington Watches the Thrones on a Mostly Enjoyable SNL

Hey, have you heard that Game of Thrones is coming to its end pretty soon? It’s pretty impossible to avoid the April 14th return (for six long episodes, anyway) of the HBO series that made labyrinthe fantasy storytelling cool by firmly rooting it in heinous body violence and frontal nudity. Everything from beer to Oreos is shilling Thrones these days, so it stands to reason that Saturday Night Live would likewise get in on the fun. In that spirit, series breakout and general know-nothing Jon Sn … Kit Harington hosted in a decent enough showing, one that kept the overall GoT references to a palatable minimum, with only the opening monologue and a single effective pre-taped sketch about HBO’s desperation to spin the show off into as many things as possible. Also, the monologue segment was mostly in the trademark SNL business of getting pops for other surprise famous people, but c’mon. Who’s ever going to get upset about seeing Samwell Tarly? [embedded content] So, Uh, About All That Joe Biden Stuff… [embedded content] I’ve written about this a lot in my share of this site’s SNL coverage, but ever since everything went tilt and Donald Trump became the goddamn President of the United States, the show has found itself at […]