I may be the last to have found about about this short-lived British TV comedy from ten years ago, but I want to give a TV Tuesday heads up just in case you too were left in a dark place when it comes to the weirdness of Garth Marenghi. Set in a haunted hospital, and presented as a “fauxtro” lost 80s TV series, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace manages to mockingly pay homage to bad horror movies, cheesy paperback horror authors, Lars Von Trier’s The Kingdom, The Stone Tape, The House By The Cemetery, Planet of the Apes, soap operas, Sean Connery, Miami Vice, Kenny Rogers, the porn industry, Carrie, and broccoli, along with about a thousand other references I won’t catch until I either view the whole thing several times or become culturally British. And it does it all in six half-hour episodes! Expect to see oddly framed shots, continuity errors, obvious cue card reading, dubbing so inept an Italian schlockmeister would spit J&B through his nose, and insanely bad special effects…and like it!
Best of all, the show is framed by bogus interviews from the actors, so basically you have writers and stars Matthew Holness and Richard Ayoade playing, respectively, the title character Marenghi and his shady publisher Dean Learner as “themselves,” and then those guys as characters Dr. Rick Dagless and hospital administrator Thornton Reed on the show within the show. They’re also joined by comedian and musician Matt Berry as actor Todd Rivers as Dr. Lucien Sanchez, and Alice Lowe as Madeleine Wool as Dr. Liz Asher, along with cameos from such British comedy names as Julian Barratt, Noel Fielding, and Graham Linehan. Plots range from an exploding man who opens the gates to hell, to an attempted hostile takeover by Scottish ghosts, and all points in between.
Topping the whole thing off in the final episode with a fromage flourish is a fake 80s love song, featuring the worst rap break ever committed to tape, a song which I love so much I’ve made the bridge of the extended cut into my ringtone. If there’s anything about Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace that isn’t a horror and comedy fan’s dream it is only that it was not renewed for a second season, but the few episodes they made are infinitely re-watchable. Highly recommended for everyone with a brain and a childish sense of humor.