Garth Marenghi's Darkplace Review

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by Casimir Harlow Oct 22, 2006 at 12:00 AM

    Comedy is surprisingly subjective. Some people find The Office too painful to watch, there are those that simply do not find the surrealty of something like Monty Python in the least bit amusing. Even Dodgeball does not appeal to some. Garth Marenghi's Darkplace takes humour one step further.

    “I have never exploded. But I know what it would be like. Don't ask me how. I just know. I've always just known.”

    Garth Marenghi is a horror writer whose life's work, the 80s show Darkplace, was banned after its original commission and was not released until now. A horror TV series set in a hospital in Romford, which happens to be situated over the Gates of Hell. Finally, after over twenty years of relegation to the Channel 4 dungeons, Darkplace is being released, complete with video interviews with Marenghi and his crew, who reminiscence about the ground-breaking show.

    “What I couldn't work out was how he'd managed to make another man pregnant. I guess we'll never know. So, just to restate, that is something we'll never know, you're not going to find out later.”

    It is, of course, a great big spoof. A spoof of every horror that came out during that period, taking itself desperately seriously so that you don't have to. Matthew Holness created the character of Garth and portrays him here as a ludicrously egotistical horror writer who believes his work would have changed the course of human evolution had it not been banned. His mock-latter-day comments to intersperse the episodes only serve to extend the hilarity, offering supposedly serious observations on the cheap production. The stories themselves are, of course, ridiculous - with men giving birth to giant eyes, nurses being possessed, patients exploding, flying cutlery, extra-terrestrial broccoli and plenty of gunfights, all within the wards of this cursed hospital.

    “You're the most sensitive man I know, and I know god.”

    The three main people who take you through the proceedings are Matthew Holness, Matt Berry and Richard Ayoade. Holness of course plays Garth, who in turn plays the on-screen character of Dr. Rick Dagless M.D. Matt Berry plays Todd Rivers, the fictional actor who portrays Dr. Lucien Sanchez and Richard Ayoade plays Dean Learner, the fictional producer and actor behind the boss Thornton Reed. They are all great in their respective multi-roles and fans will also recognise Julian Barratt (from Nathan Barley and The Mighty Boosh) as the dubious Padre. Overall they have come up with quite a scarily authentic eighties piece of rubbish which takes itself so seriously that you cannot help but laugh throughout.

    “I've always loved the great tragedies, King Lear, The Poseidon Adventure, Superman 2.”

    Episode listing:
    1. Once Upon a Beginning
    2. Hell Hath Fury
    3. Skipper the Eyechild
    4. Apes of Wrath
    5. Scotch Mist
    6. The Creeping Moss from the Shores of Shuggoth

    “As a horror writer I don't ask for much. I just hope I've changed then way you think about life.”

    The Rundown

    OUT OF
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