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October 9, 2015

Short-Lived Shows: Garth Marenghi's Darkplace - VIDEOS

by Annie Wu, posted Feb 3rd 2007 6:02PM
Garth Marenghi's DarkplaceLast month, I started taking a course in basic video techniques. The first day of class, the professor gave us a large packet on all the number one no-no's of amateur filmmaking. The next evening, I happened upon a few episodes of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace and suddenly, I saw everything in that twenty-four page packet spring to life before my very eyes. The hilariously cheesy effects, poor acting, and continuity so awful that it would have made even Ed Wood weep... Somehow, within six short episodes, this show had done every television "don't".

Of course, the creators purposely made everything outrageously crappy, so the low-quality was totally acceptable. See, here's the story behind the show: Garth Marenghi (played by Matthew Holness, whom I recognized as Gareth Keenan's annoying IT buddy from BBC's The Office) is a 1980s horror novelist who developed and starred in his own scary television series about a haunted hospital. In the program, Marenghi played Dr. Rick Dagless, MD, the smooth-talking doctor with a dark past. Again, Marenghi's a writer and not really meant to be doing much in front of the camera, but unfortunately, he's a real ham and can't stay away.

My favorite is Marenghi's publisher, Dean Learner (played by Richard Ayoade from the original IT Crowd and the upcoming American version), who has had even less acting experience but stars in the program anyway. Ayoade's voice is so nasal and weird, it skips "annoying" and goes straight to "soothing". Am I the only one that feels that way? Probably. Plus, Learner seems to get all the best lines, like "When I heard my wife died, I could barely finish my lunch!" and "The main reason I went into medicine was for the laughs. That and the pussy... But that dried up ten years ago, if you'll pardon the expression!"

The show's two other stars, Todd Rivers (played by Matt Berry) as Dr. Lucien Sanchez and Madeleine Wool (Alice Lowe) as new Dr. Liz Asher, are also hilarious. Rivers has an absurdly low voice and brilliantly over-exaggerated dramatic delivery. As the only woman, Asher is treated as an inferior, but the funniest bit is how, since the show is so dated, looking down on women is a very normal thing.

I saw this show a few weeks ago and it has already become one of my top ten favorites. It's one of those shows that you really have to see to understand because, as you may have noticed, it's a real bitch to try and explain. Check out these clips and see for yourself.

These are the opening credits for Garth Marenghi's Darkplace. The very beginning, with the explosion and the baby, always leaves me in stitches.

This bit is from the very last episode. Sanchez (the deep voice guy) has feelings for Liz, but he just can't seem to get her attention. So, he breaks into a kick-ass 80s song to express his emotions.

.Slow-motion. It makes everything better. That is all.

Poke around YouTube and experience some of this goodness.

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In it's original run here in the UK it was on a Friday night at 10.30pm. Just late enough to switch over a bit tipsy and think "what the hell?"

I remember there was a hilarious episode about a massive eyeball, what was that all about!

February 19 2007 at 2:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Pretty much the first thing you see in the course of the series (after the intro) is Madeline wool encountering a cat (which is thrown onto the set by a stagehand), which then tells her telepathically to "JUST LEAVE!!!"

That pretty much sets the tone.

February 04 2007 at 12:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought Man to Man was overstretched & would have been good if it had just been the Garth Meranghi episode. It was a shame rreally, because I think the characters are brilliantly odd. Actually, I liked the guy who played shit songs on guitar.

Dark Place is one of the most brilliantly observed surreal period comedies ever made. The one with the woman who turned into a brocolli is my favourite

February 04 2007 at 4:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike K

The show was shown on SciFi a couple of months back. Brilliant. One of my favorite bits was the bicycle chase but with motorcycle sound effects.

February 03 2007 at 8:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You want to also look for "Man to Man with Dean Learner" ... you'll get more Garth Marenghi and more Richard Ayoade. It was their 2006 collaboration in the form of a chat show. Richard played the Hugh Heffner style host and Matthew played the guest, each week a different character, one of which was Garth.

February 03 2007 at 7:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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