TV Review: “The Midnight Gospel”


Hanaa Moosavi

The animated equivalent of an acid trip, “The Midnight Gopsel” is your one way ticket to the dream-like universe of different worlds.

On April 20, 2020, Netflix released the new animated series “The Midnight Gospel.” Due to the involvement of “Adventure Time” creator Pendleton Ward in this new television series, many fans flocked to Netflix to catch its debut. “The Midnight Gospel,” a show about a spacecaster named Clancy Gilroy (Duncan Trussell) who travels to different worlds and interviews the creatures he finds on those planets, definitely lives up to its description of being an insane psychological trip. Every episode is cast with a dream-like quality through the use of the animation’s neon coloring and intricate designs. Unfortunately, while there are a myriad of good aspects about ”The Midnight Gospel,” the show’s quality has also suffered on a few accounts.

Some decisions in the content and writing of the show proved detrimental to the show’s appeal. Something that strikes the audience immediately is that, in its basic form, this is a show about a guy conducting a podcast. In each episode, characters discuss a new philosophy or heavy topic. The topics are introduced by Clancy pulling out a microphone drone and beginning to record a podcast. 

I dislike this premise because the idea behind the show originated from Ward liking Duncan Trussell’s podcast and wanting to create content based on it. Duncan Trussel is an American actor and stand-up comic, known for his podcast “The Duncan Trussell Family Hour.” I expected the show to be based on the podcast, not just to present an animated form of the podcast. Ward and Trussell could have worked together to create stories or small plotlines that encapsulated the content of the podcasts and still maintained originality, but, unfortunately, they did not. Instead, it seemed as though there was always a podcast dubbed over a visual story taking place in each episode.

What I mean by this is that there is a visual storyline while the characters talk in the podcast.  On screen, the characters would be engaged in a battle or running away from a zombie invasion, while the characters still chatted about nonsense. In the fourth episode, for example, Clancy goes along with a warrior to avenge her lover’s murder. While the audience watches the duo fight battles and face dangerous paths, they talk about the concept of forgiveness and giving yourself space to heal. The audience is driven to divide their attention in order to fully take in the show’s narrative. The visual storyline provided in each show is the majority of the “acid trip” that is described of the show with visuals of entirely new worlds, some filled with creatures and floating islands. It seems criminal to have to divert your attention away from these visuals in order to follow the podcast placed over the show. If this is confusing to understand, then imagine how confusing it was to watch. The show would have benefited greatly from incorporating the philosophies and discussions of the podcast into each episode’s visual storyline. There is some degree of incorporation in the visual and verbal plotlines, but it seems unnecessary to keep the podcast aspect in the show’s execution at all. 

Despite the negative qualities of the show, there are still enjoyable aspects. The show maintains its own design and individuality, even with the “Adventure Time” influence. The content of the podcasts are very informative and retrospective, and some of the topics include personal healing and giving yourself space to heal, death and rebirth, ego, meditation and its benefits, forgiveness and the power of support, and even some metaphysics and philosophy. These topics were refreshing to hear and interesting to listen to throughout the show, even with the intrusive moments of unnecessary vulgarity. 

All in all, “The Midnight Gospel” is definitely a show to watch if you love listening to podcasts and have any form of interest toward metaphysics and “deep” conversations, but if you do not enjoy dividing your attention or having to rewatch shows to completely take them in, this is not the show for you.

Grade: C+
Creator: Pendleton Ward and Duncan Trussell
Starring: Phil Hendrie, Duncan Trussell, Joey Diaz
Release Date: April 20, 2020
Rated: Rated TV-MA

Image Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly.