Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dark. Place.

A friend of mine recced me this show, and wow…just…amazing. A 6-episode series, originally on Channel 4 in the UK, it's a fictitious writer's equally fictitious vanity project. Matthew Holness plays horror writer "Garth Merenghi", the lead in a sf/horror medical drama based on his own books, taking place in "Darkplace Hospital". It aired in 2004, just before Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital series debuted in the US, and I wonder what the story is there, since the two are very close in concept.

This short series is distinguished by deliberately bad acting and deliberately bad special effects, along with Merhengi's ponderous monologues and obvious tendency to portray "himself" as a Gary Stu. Merhengi also cast his publisher (played by Richard Ayoade) in another of the lead roles, too. Episodes are broken up by short interviews with the actors, addressing their show-within-a-show characters and the universe it plays in. It's all very meta on meta. It's also meant to be shot as a 1980s series, despite airing in 2004, and the film has that gauzy, soap-opera look that matches its contents.

Stephen King is probably the man parody target, both because Merhengi is a horror writer, and because of King's penchant for making cameos in media based on his books. However, Holness also bears a striking resemblance to a young Harlan Ellison, and my friend also suggested that his billing himself as a "dream weaver" might be a reference to Neil Gaiman.

The humour is simple, but it works, and I'd recommend anybody give this a shot. There is also a small website.

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