Netflix’s “Midnight Gospel”: The podcast, the show, the bore

Netflix’s new show “Midnight Gospel” bills itself as a spiritual successor to creator Pendleton Ward’s “Adventure Time.” The show proudly displays a classic CalArts animation style, complete with neon colors and a gauzy filter. However, “Midnight Gospel” is actually a clumsy translation of its star Duncan Trussell’s podcast into an animated sci-fi fantasy format.

“The Duncan Trussell Family Hour” features Trussell interviewing everyone from actors to authors on trendy subjects like mindfulness and Eastern spirituality. “Midnight Gospel” features a self-insert of Trussell in the character of an alien named Clancy who travels through space, time and dimensions in various goofy avatars to find people to interview for his space podcast. This serves as less of a plot and more of a loose framework that provides space for Trussell to insert clips of his podcast synced up to animated characters or for droning, senseless dialogue that may as well be from an SNL NPR skit. 

The show is beautiful, giving you plenty to look at while you listen to the podcast guests drone on and on. There is never a boring frame. However, the aesthetics are not enough to sustain the show; without even reading any background information on it, I was able to easily tell what it really was—a visual accompaniment to a podcast. What Disney’s Fantasia is to classical music, “Midnight Gospel” is to “The Duncan Trussell Family Hour.”…

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