REVIEWED: SEASON 1 (ALL EPISODES) | WHERE TO WATCH: NETFLIX
Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward has teamed up with comedian Duncan Trussell to deliver something truly unique, a show that sometimes feels like it could be unwatchable, but instead turns into something deeply moving and thoughtful. The Midnight Gospel follows Clancy (Trussell), a 'spacecaster' who travels to worlds about to experience an apocalypse so he can interview people for his show. He travels using a forbidden universe simulator, and is based in a dimension called 'the Chromatic Ribbon'.
While he converses with his guests on everything from meditation to listening and deep existential philosophy, most of the time it looks like someone gave a toddler some acid and watched what they came up with. The visual style is utterly bewildering. It is a task to keep up with the depth of conversation Clancy has with his guests when there is so much vivid nonsense happening around them. Yet it doesn't feel like a distraction. Rather, this demand for focus is central to the show's purpose. Clancy's journey over eight episodes takes him in a direction of, if not enlightenment, then deep spiritual learning. This is best seen in the final episode, which guest stars Trussell's real-life mother and features the most powerful emotional crescendo.
It's visual eccentricity, sci-fi expressionism, and characters all contribute moments of light relief and joy amidst some serious discussions. The philosophy doesn't overpower the weirdness, but embraces it. Sometimes it is hard to see where the series is going, but it feels very suitable to have more of a focus on where things are, rather than where they are going. It means you can sit back and enjoy this crazy, crazy universe for what it is, from the last giant zombie to the spaceship cat crew.
The Midnight Gospel trips hard, and sometimes you will be wondering what the hell you are watching. But if you stick with it, you are rewarded with a resonating and fulfilling experience, as good as any you could hope to get from a TV show. It will not be for everyone's tastes, but you can stand to gain a lot from Ward's most recent stroke of genius.