Published on 31 dec. 2016
Here’s a failed pilot for a proposed TV series version of the 1970 Mike Nichols film “Catch 22” that aired on the ABC Network (and thus, via WLS Channel 7 in Chicago) on Monday, May 21st 1973 as part of a block of other ultimately unsold (or “busted“) pilots (under the banner of “Comedy Trio“) that also included “The Barbara Eden Show” (which co-starred Joe Flynn, Roger Perry, Moosie Dryer and Pat Morita) and “The Karen Valentine Show” (starring the perky “Room 222” co star and “Match Game” panelist Charles Nelson Reilly).
This pilot – involving the goings-on of the 256th Squadron, stationed at Pianosa, an island off the coast of Italy (“the craziest bomber group in the Air Corps“) – starred Richard Dreyfuss as lead bombardier Yossarian, with Dana Elcar as Colonel Cathcart, Frank Welker (perhaps most famous as the voice of “Freddy” on the long-running “Scooby-Doo” cartoon series) as McWatt, Stewart Moss as Korn, Suzanne Zenor as Nurse Duckett, Robert Pratt as Orr, Sam Chew as Aarfy, Nicholas Hammond (who was one of the von Trapp children in “The Sound of Music” and later the star of the short-lived 1978 live-action series version of the “Spider-Man” comics), as Nately, and J.S. Johnson as Doc Daneeka.
The plot starts off with Yossarian (in a voiceover) glad he’s not on the latest mission, instead heading back to his girlfriend, Ginger McDougal, back home, after landing his plane at Pianosa to refuel, having completed 30 missions – but his co-pilot’s tour of duty is just starting! As Yossarian notes, Pianosa is a loony bin with a commanding officer who loves to play with toy soldiers, which segues into the opening titles.
Next, Yossarian and McWatt are over the Mediterranean, with the pilot tied up – literally. Then we see Col. Cathcart and his aides in the war room, trying to prepare for General Dreidel. McWatt is particularly reckless in trying to land their plane, finally ending up in the water – and the rescue mission about to give a medal meant for a fallen soldier, Gruber. The Colonel plans on celebratory music consisting of a Cole Porter medley to honor Yossarian with a medal for his latest mission – but Yossarian, intent on returning home, intends to refuse to accept it – and wants McWatt grounded from future missions because he’s crazy. At the ceremony, Yossarian is about to be given his medal when Gruber’s plane shows up.
This is shown without any commercial breaks.
I wonder if the primary reason for ordering this Pilot was to see if ABC could replicate the success of CBS’ M*A*S*H?
Richard Dreyfuss as Yossarian
Dana Elcar as Colonel Cathcart
Frank Welker as McWatt
Stewart Moss as Korn
Suzanne Zenor as Nurse Duckett
Robert Pratt as Orr
Sam Chew as Aarfy
Nicholas Hammond as Nately
J.S. Johnson as Doc Daneeka
Music Composed and Conducted by Neil Hefti
Produced by Richard Bluel
Written by Hal Dresner
Based on the novel by Joseph Heller
Directed by Richard Quine
A Paramount Television Production
MCMLXXIII by Paramount Pictures Corporation
All Rights Reserved
Ending “zooming Paramount” logo
This aired on local Chicago TV on Monday, May 21st 1973 within the 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm timeframe.
About The Museum of Classic Chicago Television:
The Museum of Classic Chicago Television’s primary mission is the preservation and display of off-air, early home videotape recordings (70s and early 80s, primarily) recorded off of any and all Chicago TV channels; footage which would likely be lost if not sought out and preserved digitally. Even though (mostly) short clips are displayed here, we preserve the entire broadcasts in our archives – the complete programs with breaks (or however much is present on the tape), for historical purposes. For information on how to help in our mission, to donate or lend tapes to be converted to DVD, and to view more of the 4,600+ (and counting) video clips available for viewing in our online archive, please visit us at: