Sunday, December 7, 2008

Only the Good Get Cancelled Young- Part 2...

Garth Marenghi's Darkplace: Darkplace is a show within a show, and sadly, only lasted 6 episodes back in 2004. Here is the premise; Garth Merenghi (played by Matthew Holness) is a horror writer with a giant British ego (the rest of him is British too) who describes himself as a "dream weaver" and "shaman" among other things. Garth decided to adapt his books into a TV series based in a hospital, where strange and horrific incidents happen. It is a cheesy, cheaply produced, poorly written (by Marenghi himself) 80s drama. Sadly, the show Garth Marenghi created never made it to air. What we as viewers watch is Garth Marenghi (Holness) airing his lost 80s TV drama, which stars himself as the lead doctor Dr Rick Dagless (Holness plays Marenghi who plays Dagless), producer/costar Dean Leaner (actor is Richard Ayoade) who plays hospital admin Thornton Reed, costar Todd Rivers who plays Dr Lucien Sanchez (also played by Holness...) and Madeline Wool playing Dr Liz Asher (Alice Lowe in real life). We not only watch these characters play these characters, but they also do commentary of the original show, with exception of Lowe/Wool/Asher, who mysteriously disappeared after Darkplace was produced. Go ahead and re-read those last 2 sentences again, I understand.

The show is a spoof of itself, and makes no apologies. Imagine if Mystery Science Theater 3000 had the cast acting as other characters... that is the best way to describe Darkplace. It takes place in modern times, with Marenghi showing his failed 80s TV series, and complimenting himself and his "art" all along the way. Marenghi's ego is what really makes the show work, with his name appearing in nearly every credit, including the music "based on melodies originally whistled by Garth Marenghi." You can find the majority of the show on YouTube (HERE YA GO). This is one of those rare shows that may BENEFIT from a short lifespan, but I would love to see a few more hours of what Dr Rick Dagless, aka Garth Marenghi, aka Matthew Holness had in him.

Dead Like Me: Any TV show that has it's title based on a classic novel written by John Howard Griffin must be a winner, and Dead Like Me is no exception. This Showtime program aired in June 2003 through October 2004, for 2 seasons. We follow 18 year old Georgia Lass. George, as she prefers to be called, is a slacker who cares about nothing, lives with her parents and sister, and is being forced to get a job by her mother now that she is no longer taking classes. While on lunch at her first day of work at the Happy Time Temp agency, a toilet seat falls from the sky from Mir space station, incinerating young George where she stands. Instead of dying, George finds herself wandering around, and learns she must become a grim reaper. Her task is to take the souls of those who are about to die in painful and gory situations, and escort them to the other side. She must also lead a "normal" human life, however she cannot be harmed or killed again.

Georgia works with several other reapers. The incomparable Mandy Patinkin plays Rube, the eldest and leader of the reapers. She is also joined by Mason, a British stoner, Roxy, a hard skinned traffic enforcer, Betty, an upbeat woman who quickly befriends George, and later Daisy, a starlet from the 30s. George returns to her Happy Time job as her new persona Millie, and finds herself living life for the first time despite now being dead. She works with the wonderful Delores Herbig played by the hilarious Christine Willes. The show lost a lot of the zest that made it unique in the first season, especially after creator Bryan Fuller left due to arguements with MGM. While some reports say that the ratings were over three times higher than the average show on Showtime, the full numbers, and reason for cancellation, have never been released. A direct to DVD movie has been commisioned, but is now 18 months behind schedule. Dead Like Me remains one of the most petitioned shows online and continues to have a very strong fan base.


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