The Midnight Gospel: The Midnight Gospel
April 21, 2020 9:55 AM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

A new Netflix animated series from Adventure Time’s creator Pen Ward, and podcaster Duncan Trussell. It follows Clancy, who travels to simulated universes and conducts deep, philosophical interviews with its inhabitants. Released on 4/20.

Starring Phil Hendrie as Clancy’s computer, and a cavalcade of semi-famous interview subjects. Art direction by Jesse Moynihan, who storyboard many of the trippiest Adventure Time episodes.

The Midnight Gospel is not an adult Adventure Time, except it totally is
The Midnight Gospel succeeds by subverting expectations of what one might expect from adult Adventure Time — and then subverting them again for one last emotional punch. This surprisingly emotional thread combined with stunning (and sometimes disgusting) visuals, makes The Midnight Gospel transcendent.
‘Adventure Time’ meets a metaphyiscal podcast in Netflix’s extraordinary new ’toon
Visually, “The Midnight Gospel” is reminiscent of Ward’s previous series (Clancy, like Finn, has no nose), yet it has its own style, beginning where “Adventure Time” gets surrealist and psychedelic and heading on from there. There are textured, painterly backgrounds; the sky subtly changes color. I detect notes of Max and Dave Fleischer’s “Koko the Clown,” comic artist Jim Woodring, “Yellow Submarine” and Hieronymus Bosch.
Netflix's 'The Midnight Gospel' pulls the ripcord on reality
What truly makes it sing for me, I can't be sure. Regardless, this experience — because that’s really what it is — astounded me. Profound, funny, and painful, The Midnight Gospel preaches a knowing message of love and terror that I won’t soon forget. I didn't always enjoy it, but I know it will stick with me.
The Midnight Gospel Turns “The Duncan Trussell Family Hour” into Psychedelic White Noise
For all its talk of mindfulness, active listening, and the like, the show is seemingly designed to defeat its own well-intentioned buzzwords. It’s aesthetic self-contradiction. While there’s plenty of merit being preached in The Midnight Gospel, I don’t find the delivery method of its sermon particularly convincing, digestible, or enjoyable. But, hey, as someone who watched the show stone-cold sober, your religious mileage may vary.
posted by 1970s Antihero (17 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks! Loved the 1st 2 episodes, will continue.
posted by kingless at 11:59 AM on April 21, 2020

This is weird and beautiful and somehow I didn't know about it until today. I am here for this.

It feels like it shouldn't work but somehow it's just so engaging and gorgeous.

I want more bizarre, thoughtful, wonderful, inventive animation that's solidly aimed at adults but not in the general lowest common denominator way (but to be fair, this does have its fair share of violence/gore and bad language but it also didn't feel like it was trying too hard there).

Pen Ward is excellent at wearing his influences while transforming them into something else.
posted by darksong at 3:56 PM on April 21, 2020

Unfortunately I had to turn it off in disgust when I heard Dr. Drew's voice, but I'm sure I will try it again.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:17 AM on April 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

Watched the first couple of episodes the last couple evenings, and Mrs. Fedora and I both commented on how it gave us weirdly strong Dr. Katz vibes, like they'd just taken these unscripted conversations and added animations and maybe occasional little semi-scripted interstitials about the world around them.

Definitely intrigued so far, and trying to figure out if I actually like it or not.
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:05 PM on April 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

It's totally Duncan Trussell's weird conversations just pasted onto random Pen Ward cartoon. They don't even bother removing sections where they call him Duncan instead of Clancy (particularly in the finale).

It was somewhat entertaining, but not really a story.
posted by Marticus at 2:18 AM on April 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

My fourteen year old just texted me and said "Dude I found a show we should watch. Think Adventure Time mixed with High Maintenance. " They loved Adventure Time as a young kid, and they were surprised just now when I told them it's made by Pendleton Ward. Guess I'll be watching this with them this weekend.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:51 PM on April 23, 2020

>Unfortunately I had to turn it off in disgust when I heard Dr. Drew's voice, but I'm sure I will try it again.

I couldn't place the voice until the credits rolled. Such a garbage person he turned out to be.
posted by Catblack at 4:30 PM on April 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

I was bummed about Dr. Drew, too - I don't think the other guests are as problematic but it doesn't bode well.

Still the concept of the show is intriguing and reminiscent of Dr. Katz.
posted by alrightokay at 4:45 AM on April 24, 2020

Three episodes in. I love the animation and the little off-kilter worldbuilding segments at the start are intriguing, but totally lose interest once the "podcast" starts. The conversations just feel so rambling and surface-y, name-dropping philosophical ideas and magic and drugs and religion like a stoner freshman in a college dorm. The near-total disconnect with the visuals is also distracting, but maybe it would be more so if the dialogue wasn't such filler.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:45 PM on April 24, 2020 [5 favorites]

I tried to watch it. I couldn’t finish the first episode. I found it really boring and annoying.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:21 AM on April 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

The visuals are sometimes amazing (particularly the second episode, which is as far as I got) but the conversations are banal and fail to generate any real frisson with the visual narrative. Ah well.
posted by chortly at 7:39 PM on April 26, 2020

The weird stoner vibe of this show just made me think “I’m to old for this shit”. I gave another episode a try anyways, as I hate it when things make me feel old (for the record I am old, just in denial). Made it halfway through before I gave up. Oh well.
posted by fimbulvetr at 8:56 PM on April 26, 2020

I've watched the first three and felt like the contrast between the peace, love and understanding of the dialog with the often horrific visual story was more like wry commentary on boomers' obliviously looking for universal truths while the world around them turns to a shit sandwich. But I don't know anything about Duncan Trussell.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 2:24 PM on April 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

The last episode where he interviews his late mother, who was dying of breast cancer at the time (I think it was recorded in 2013) is really beautiful and comforting, anyone who felt meh about any of the conversations in other episodes should feel free to skip to that one. It's much more personal and emotional and while I enjoyed all of the episodes to an extent (even if Dr. Drew definitively sucks) the finale was the show I was hoping for when I had read about it.
posted by windbox at 8:55 PM on April 30, 2020 [3 favorites]

Agreed about the irony, and not just in the contrast between the interviews and the visuals. Outside of the interviews, Clancy is repeatedly shown to be a pretty awful person, just comically irresponsible and inconsiderate. Then he goes through all these heady philosophical conversations and spiritual awakenings, but none of them make him a better person. He can "become enlightened" and still be completely self-absorbed.
posted by baf at 9:50 AM on May 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

I mean, even the way Clancy operates the universe simulator bears a strong visual resemblance to putting his head up an ass.
posted by baf at 10:02 AM on May 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

The last episode where he interviews his late mother, who was dying of breast cancer at the time (I think it was recorded in 2013) is really beautiful and comforting, anyone who felt meh about any of the conversations in other episodes should feel free to skip to that one
It took me a long time to get around to finishing this, and I'm so, so glad that I did. For anyone who is at all on the fence after some of the initial episodes, I strongly recommend skipping to this one.
posted by Cogito at 6:05 PM on November 6, 2022

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