A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although this creepy show is ultimately a spoof, it has some very disturbing images that are inappropriate for children. Though many of the effects are obviously fake, the copious quantities of blood, the sudden camera angle shifts, and the grating sound effects all combine to create some startling scenes that could give anyone bad dreams.
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What's the story?
In GARTH MARENGHI'S DARKPLACE, Marenghi (played by Matthew Holness) is a Stephen King-esque horror writer who once starred in an ill-fated TV series that was never broadcast, Darkplace. Decades later, the show is finally hitting the airwaves, in all its cheesy '80s glory. Marenghi, channeling Masterpiece Theatre, introduces the Darkplace episodes and tells way over-the top behind-the-scenes stories of a production that went very, very wrong. In the show-within-a-show, Holness-as-Marenghi stars as Dr. Rick Dagless, a dashing (in an '80s kind of way, which is now rather repellent) doctor and chief ghost hunter. Marenghi's manager, Dean Learner (Richard Ayoade), also pulls double duty as loyal sidekick Thornton Reed, and Madeleine Wool (Alice Lowe) supplies the necessary love interest as Dr. Liz Asher, a powerful psychic trapped in a frail female body, who tends to faint for no particular reason. As Marenghi reveals, Wool vanished mysteriously during filming and hasn't been heard from since.
Is it any good?
The show is faithful to the '80s mystique, complete with intentionally bad acting, cheap sets, gallons of fake blood, and costumes heavy on the polyester. Much like other horror shows from the period, Darkplace features oddly timed zoom shots and piercing sound effects during dramatic moments, which might be disturbing to some viewers.
It's not quite clear whether this parody is meant to be funny or scary, but it doesn't really matter, because the supposedly terrifying lost Darkplace episodes aren't scary, nor is Garth Marenghi's Darkplace funny, and the overall result isn't much fun to watch.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about ghosts and telepathic powers. Darkplace Hospital is a magnet for the spirit world, attracting all kinds of demons, ghosts, and spirits, many of whom aren't in a good mood. One of the characters possesses strong psychic abilities, which helps the cast battle evil, but also makes her especially vulnerable to the powers of the underworld. Do you believe in spirits and extrasensory abilities? Why or why not? Families can also talk about the nature of spoofs -- is parodying something a form of mockery or a tribute? Or some of each?