The Midnight Gospel Review

Watch Season 1 Now on Netflix

A fantastical trip through thought and spirituality from Pendleton Ward (“Adventure Time”) and comedian Duncan Trussell.

Over the course of the 2000s, podcasts have become exponentially popular, with people listening to them both to hear whatever the hosts have to say or because they make for good background noise while performing some other task. By definition, podcasts are pretty much always digital audio files that are available for downloading and easy listening.

So, as none of you are probably wondering: what happens when you take a podcast, specifically The Duncan Trussell Family Hour, and turn it into a TV show?

To answer your non-existent question, you’ll end up with “The Midnight Gospel,” an incredibly surreal, animated Netflix show co-created by Duncan Trussell, who as you can probably guess is the man behind The Duncan Trussell Family Hour, and Pendleton Ward, an animator of “Adventure Time” fame. The shows’ plot mostly revolves around an inexplicably bright pink and shirtless man named Clancy with a penchant for collecting shoes who, with the help of an apparently illegal universe simulator, conducts interviews with the denizens of the multiverse, which he uploads to his “Spacecast”, which is essentially this settings equivalent to a podcast.

What makes the plot especially meta is that the interview segments of each episode are actual excerpts from The Duncan Trussell Family Hour, with Trussell himself voicing Clancy. The characters that Clancy interviews are, predictably, voiced by guests from Trussells’ podcast. The real-life guests range from well-known figures like Drew Pinsky from Celebrity Rehab and the more notorious Damien Echols of the West Memphis 3 to less mainstream figures such as novelist Anne Lamott and Caitlin Doughty from Ask A Mortician.

While the subjects the guests talk about are pretty heavy, things like the death of loved ones, disease, hopelessness and time spent in prison, the shows’ trippy visuals are usually far less grim. Each shot is filled with almost eye-melting colors, bizarre imagery like a ship piloted by sentient cats, parasitic meat clowns and an androgynous prince with a fang-filled mouth where his ass should be, and occasionally fast paced action sequences that dissolve into smartly animated blood baths. This contrast surprisingly works out in the shows’ favor, turning what would’ve been a normal podcast or a plainly trippy show into a truly unique audio-visual hybrid.

Although this show seems like it would be a pretty basic stoner comedy at first glance, it’s a surprisingly smart show that dives deep into pretty abstract concepts while still maintaining a constant sense of humor that keeps it from feeling overly pretentious. And given the amount of adult animated shows that seem to just try and be as gross or off-putting as possible, this show is a breath of fresh air circulating within a fever dream.

 

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