Friday, January 25, 2008

Garth Marenghi's Darkplace

Happy New Year Sporefans. After a not so brief vacation, Spored to Death Publishing is back with our first review of the new year. We're going to start off in a new direction this new year with our first review of a television series. I first became aware of this series in an inebriated haze after watching a movie for review. After flipping through the channels for a few minutes, dissatisfied with Sci-Fi's late night infomercial barrage, G4's late night leftovers which lead into an infomercial barrage, and HBO's... well, you know...

And then I found "Garth Marenghi's Darkplace".

No, that's not a porn. Darkplace is currently running on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block, but seeing the edited version of Darkplace just wasn't enough for me. I needed to see the raw, uncut, uncensored version so I could hear all the naughty words that you can't say on TV. So we bought the DVD.

Did I mention that this is a British show?

Yes, Darkplace was made in England, which means that the DVD is a region 2 format. But wait! We're a region 1 country! Which means that the Darkplace DVD shouldn't play in my DVD player.

The caring doctors of Darkplace hospital will pop a cap in your ass if you're not careful.

Luckily Sporefans, I have the technology to crack the code on my DVD player and make it an "All-Region" player. Neat, huh? With my newly found power I popped the DVD into the player and we began a 4 hour trek into the mind of Garth Marenghi, otherwise known as Matthew Holness. To celebrate our victory over the regionalization of entertainment and the spread of global comedy, I will now conduct the rest of this review in a British accent.


In Darkplace Matthew Holness plays Garth Marenghi; an author, director, and actor who in turn plays Dr. Rick Dagless on the show within the show. Darkplace hosts many of these dual roles as the "actors" have commentary that was supposedly added after the show's first run in the 1980's. I say supposedly because the show was actually created and released in January of 2004, and merely appears to be a show from the 80's. In reality, Darkplace is an elaborate spoof on 80's television, horror writers, and Peru.

Darkplace hospital. Dark, isn't it?

The show within the show centers on Darkplace hospital, a facility that rests on a nexus of evil which leaks from a doorway to Hell; which happens to be located in Romford, England. Rick Dagless is the Protagonist and very obviously the extension of Marenghi's massive ego; and ego so massive it rivals my own. My ego is still bigger though, so you can imagine what a character Dagless is.

Richard Ayoade (I dare you to pronounce his name, DO IT!!!) plays Dean Learner who is both Garth's publisher and the actor who portrays Thornton Reed, Darkplace's Administrative official. Reed is constantly plauged by the mysterious and unseen "Won Ton" who controls Darkplace hospital. This is an obvious allusion to Charlie from Charlie's Angels. No, not the remake, although John Forsythe was the voice in both... I'm getting off topic again, but its an allusion to an unseen character who controls the plot. Like God. Or authors. Did I mention my ego recently?

"Garth Marenghi" and "Dean Learner".

The third player in Darkplace is Matt Berry who plays the actor Todd Rivers who in turn plays Dr. Lucien Sanchez. River's and Sanchez's most notable characteristic is the "Supervoice" which never quite syncs up with his mouth. There is some debate as to whether this is actually Matt Berry's voice, or if the lip-sync is just off to further the dazzling illusion of the 1980's. In any event, be sure to check out the music video shot in Darkplace with River's and Learner here.

The final member of the cast is Alice Lowe a.k.a. Madeleine Wool a.k.a. Dr. Liz Asher. She's psychic.

What, you want more? OK, Liz spends most of her on screen tenure at Darkplace either being put down by Dagless and Reed, or as a monkey. Luckily Alice Lowe is skilled at playing the part of a monkey and it shows in the episode where everyone turns into monkeys. No, no one throws any poo, they're mostly just hairier. This episode also features the requisite chase scene which, as we all know, was required to be on at least one prime time show in every channel in the 80's. It's a fact, look it up!

Right! Pull over! Pull over right now!

Darkplace is a scant six episodes long, but each of these six episodes is jam packed with great content that any fan of bad movies would love. In a scene from the first episode object's change in Thornton Reed's hand back and fourth from a bloody shovel to a Styrofoam coffee cup. For those of you more experienced readers, keep an eye out for something I like to call the "Premonition stop". This takes place when one character is dramatically walking away from another and stops in front of the camera before their name is called out. Darkplace is full of subtle and not so subtle humor that allows the viewer to catch something new each time they watch an episode; or at least until they've discovered everything. These things are finite, you know.

She's turning into broccoli.

So, should you watch "Garth Marenghi's Darkplace"? Well, you could watch it for free on Cartoon Network, but you'd have to put up with censorship and commercials; two things I hate and not necessarily in that order. No Sporefans, you should get the DVD, and I even suggest you get it from a reputable dealer like and not that shady guy who hangs out at the docks. Why?

Because these people deserve your money.

I do not say that lightly. Most of the crap I buy I would never recommend that you also purchase. I would not want to encourage the producers of drek to produce more drek. I'd like to think that my input on a movie slightly increases or decreases the amount of revenue it receives. It doesn't, but that's not the point. The point is, if I'm telling you that you should actually shell out $30 American for something that they're giving away on TV and that you could easily acquire by setting your DVR to record it, that it is my highest form of praise. Also, the extras are pretty funny, if you're into that sort of thing.

Also, unlike the shady guy from the docks, is unlikely to try and steal your organs and sell them on the black market.

Sure you could get by on one kidney and save yourself $20 or even $21 dollars, but I recommend you keep the kidney and spend the extra money on an official copy of "Garth Marenghi's Darkplace". It's worth it.

On a final note, cartoon network hates having their stuff pimped out on youtube, but their embed code sucks and causes my post to crash. So here's a small bit from darkplace on youtube.

Once again, buy it!