Garth Marenghi's Darkplace

Dir: Richard Ayoade, 2004. Starring: Matthew Holness, Matt Berry, Alice Lowe, Richard Ayoade. Import.
Garth Marenghi's Darkplace

Ok, so Darkplace is a 1980's horror television show... no wait. It's about this horror author... no, that's not right either. You see, I have to pretend I don't know how to properly describe Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, not only as a silly writer-ly way to start a review but also because I genuinely have a hard time doing it.

Garth Marenghi is a creation of actor Matthew Holness. He is not a real person. Much like Stephen King, Marenghi is a horror novelist who specializes in turning the mundane into the horrific. But then back in the 1980's Marenghi grew tired of books and decided to turn his attention to television and Darkplace was born! Being the way-ahead-of-his-time writer that he his, Darkplace was pulled from television for being either too frightening or possibly too moronic (depending on who you talk to) and never shown again... until now.

See? I just confused myself there a little bit. Garth Marenghi's Darkplace is a spoof of all things horror, 80's, and just television in general. Lasting only 6 wonderful episodes, Darkplace was able to fully capture every little nuance of bad supernatural TV, creating a show that is the definition of required taste. Just trying to describe it to someone is like giving someone a rorschach test, having no idea if they'll see the same thing as you. The fake show Darkplace is about a doctor named Dr. Rick Dagless M.D. played by Garth Marenghi (all played by Matthew Holness) who is the best damn doctor in a hospital that sits over the gates of hell. As a result, Dagless and his crew have to confront the forces of evil week after week. It's kinda like The X-Files with no budget. And trust me, it's hysterical.

But something really weird happens to me when I watch the show. The show is meant to be laughed at; it's intentionally awful and terribly made, and I enjoy it on that level for sure. But it must be my inner-geek that actually, genuinely wishes Darkplace was a real show. I like the drama and the cheap sets, and I downright love the music! I don't know if it was the creators' intention to mock those kinds of shows while also creating a love-letter to them, but that's the way I look at it. Over-ambition is something that I've always enjoyed in both movies and television and Garth Marenghi is an artist who has so much ambition, he doesn't know what to do with it.

Posted by:
Eric Branscum
Feb 26, 2009 12:53pm
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