Regardless of being canceled after six episodes and one season over 15 years in the past, the information that Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was added to the Amazon Prime database is noteworthy for a small, however ardent fan base. The present is a true cult traditional in each sense of the phrase, residing lengthy within the reminiscence of those that have seen it regardless of its quick lifespan.
Darkplace stands out for a lot of causes, however one of many ways in which it does so is much less celebrated than the writing for the longer term comedic stars that emerged from the episodes. It’s also an instance of a profitable cinematic universe nicely earlier than the Marvel machine was a glint in Kevin Feige’s eye. Garth Marenghi and his cadre of characters started life on the stage earlier than shifting to the world of tv.
Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace is one of the best comedy you’ve by no means seen
Darkplace takes a honest love of old-school horror films and turns these tropes into a wildly inventive and hilarious comedy. The present takes the type of a mockumentary across the Marenghi character. Performed with acceptable pomposity by collection co-creator Matthew Holness, Marenghi is a celebrated author of horror novels regardless of the present presenting nothing however proof on the contrary.
Think about a mixture of Stephen King and latter-day Kanye West: most auteur vanity mixed with a complete lack of self-awareness. (Within the first episode, he brags about having written extra books than he has learn.)
Darkplace itself is a present Marenghi created within the Nineteen Eighties for Britain’s Channel 4 (the identical channel the present appeared on in actual life) that by no means made it to air outdoors of a temporary run in Peru. Segments of the collection are interspersed with interview clips with Marenghi and his publicist, Dean Learner.
The show-within-a-show takes place at Darkplace Hospital, the place Rick Dagless (performed by Marenghi himself) and his group of medical doctors struggle in opposition to no matter supernatural prevalence is inflicting havoc that day. The absurdity of every episode’s premise and the deliberately shoddy manufacturing make for a few of the finest examples of deadpan humor on the market, with jokes popping up in practically each line of dialog.
The forged of Darkplace was small, however a lot of them have gone on to grow to be common sources of comedy within the years since. Richard Ayoade, who performs as Dean Learner and hospital administrator Thornton Reed, starred in one other extremely rated British sitcom with The IT Crowd, performed supporting roles in a lot greater initiatives, and directed two well-received films in Submarine and The Double.
Matt Barry, who performs Dr. Lucien Sanchez, additionally performed a half within the IT Crowd, co-created the present Toast of London, and stars within the What We Do In The Shadows present as Laszlo Cravensworth. Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt, future creators of The Mighty Boosh, make an look within the fourth episode.
However inventive excellence is not any match for low rankings. Darkplace was aired late at night time with little promoting, so the present didn’t discover its viewers till it was over.
The present started life as a weird and beloved stage present
Darkplace was truly the third rendition of the Marenghi character. He was first portrayed to the world through a stage present in 2000. Garth Marenghi’s Fright Night time starred Holness, Ayoade, and Alice Lowe, who additionally performed the identical Liz Asher position within the TV present.
They carried out on the Edinburgh Pageant Fringe, the place it was nominated for the Perrier Award thought-about probably the most prestigious comedy award in the UK. However even then, it was clear that their standpoint was not for everyone.
Right here is an excerpt of a evaluation from The Guardian’s Lyn Gardner, who says upfront that she will not be a fan of horror usually:
“But it soon becomes clear – as Garth squares up to face the Fright Knight who has kidnapped his muse, does battle with the hag who makes ice-cream from her own breast milk and subdues the forces of evil – that this is a very slick and very funny spoof on the whole tacky genre. It’s just been nominated for the Perrier, so leave your incredulity and good taste behind, and prepare to be truly terrified by the fact that one man can single-handedly inflict such devastating damage on the English language.”
Nonetheless, the principally optimistic reception led to Holness and Ayoade signing a take care of Avalon Leisure that led to the creation of Darkplace. In addition they made a sequel present, Garth Marenghi’s Netherhead, to carry out a 12 months later.
The present, which tells the story of a man inadvertently residing out the plot of a Marenghi novel, received the Perrier Award outright and acquired a way more optimistic Guardian evaluation from a totally different critic. The origin story for Garth Marenghi makes it appear extra becoming that the present by no means lasts lengthy in any of its displays. Delighting a small group of individuals has at all times been a a part of the deal.
Plans for spin-offs and sequel exhibits didn’t absolutely come to fruition
After Darkplace was canceled, there have been stories that Holness and Ayoade had been requested to jot down a script for a movie within the Marenghi universe, however that by no means got here to move. What did occur is that the Dean Learner character acquired his personal present, Man to Man With Dean Learner.
The present was an interview spoof the place Learner spoke to 1 new visitor every episode, all performed by Holness. (Garth Marenghi is the interviewee within the first episode.) Man to Man, very similar to Darkplace, solely caught round for six episodes. Clearly, it was extra necessary to the creators to have a good time, not a very long time whereas they had been on the air.