'The Midnight Gospel' Review: A-grade animated show will drown you into a hypnotic world of drugs and death
Each interview is an exploration of different beings, different worlds with discussions ranging from drugs, death and enlightenment to meditation practices and life philosophies
Spoilers for 'The Midnight Gospel'
"Hey, you mind if I interview you for my video spacecast? It goes into space," Clancy (voiced by co-creator Duncan Trussell) asks at the beginning of every new adventure he embarks on in Netflix's latest animated offering 'The Midnight Gospel'.
First impressions of 'The Midnight Gospel' are along the lines of other sci-fi 'interdimensional', 'intergalactic' adventure series such as say, 'Rick & Morty', or 'Final Space', but Pendleton Ward (of 'Adventure Time' fame) and Trussell's series explores factions that animation on Netflix never has. Created by Ward and Trussell, the series animates some of the most intriguing conversations Trussell has hosted on his very popular podcast 'Duncan Trussell Family Hour'.
Clancy is a spacecaster with a malfunctioning multiverse simulator that allows him to leave his home on something called the Chromatic Ribbon and interview beings living in other planets. Each interview is an exploration of different beings, different worlds with discussions ranging from drugs, death and enlightenment to meditation practices and life philosophies. An inquisitive soul by nature, Clancy asks his subjects one question after the other on topics that have not only tickled his [Duncan's] fancy but that have also ailed you and me at some point in our lives.
The protagonist's exploration into any subject begins with ease and the steady delving that follows immensely informative conversations simply blows your mind. Clancy's curiosity and queries are organic, exploring subjects of human existence, suffering, pain, moksha (transcendence) and meditation - as Trussell does on his podcast - with an earnest eagerness that is contagious through the screen. We want to know more - mull over the teachings, devour more of the awareness that Trussell prods his audience to develop.
Perhaps the best part about the series is its hypnotic, serene, visually enticing world created by the animation house Titmouse. Clancy travels from one world to the other interviewing subjects, but the backdrop behind you pulls you into the conversation, making you an important part of the exploration of said subject. Entering Clancy's world - and by extension, the bizarre world created by Ward, Trussell and Titmouse with strange creatures is akin to being enveloped by a blanket, a safe space where no thought, no idea is the wrong idea and where every instinct has validation.
For those who find it difficult to concentrate on podcasts owing to their audio nature, might find it a tad difficult to follow 'The Midnight Gospel' despite its awe-inspiring animation style. For one, there is simply so much happening in one particular scene that the audience must sift through the rubble to focus on the matter that forms the foundation of each of the eight episodes. It is distracting - you might find yourself compelled to go back and rewatch scenes, perhaps entire episodes to fully grasp the concept, but we also found it was so because of the sheer brilliance the show packs in.
Each episode sees Clancy embark on one sci-fi adventure after the other with episodes varying in length - some standing at 20 minutes long, other at 30, none longer than that. Clancy meets a new subject every episode - Dr Drew Pinksy, who talks about drugs and meditation, Anne Lamott and Raghu Markus discuss death. He talks to Damien Echols about magic and enlightenment and explores forgiveness with Trudy Goodman. With Jason Louv - in what is also our favorite episode - Clancy talks about suffering, existentialism and rebirth. Mortician Caitlin Doughty delves into death via a gripping history lesson on the death industrial complex and its impact on turning mortality into a taboo. And lastly, in a heartbreaking episode, Clancy [Trussell] discusses the cycle of life with his late mother Deneen Fendig - this one had us bawling like a baby.
There is hardly any surprise why 'The Midnight Gospel' releases on 4/20 with its several contemplations of love, life and everything beyond. Trussell and Ward's project is now in a league of its own - no other Netflix animated original has ever attempted to delve into matters this well. And now the bar set high - so high that even Netflix's animated original 'BoJack Horseman' is nowhere to be seen.
Do not miss 'The Midnight Gospel' - A-grade animation accompanies some very quality content that will leave you content, mesmerized and definitely teary-eyed.
All episodes of 'The Midnight Gospel' are currently streaming on Netflix.