By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com December 6, 2011 at 10:37AM
1996's "The Dana Carvey Show" lasted only seven episodes, but it's fondly remembered by comedy fans, not least because it proved something of a Ground Zero for talent for years to come. The Fox sketch-show vehicle helped give big breaks to cast members Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert, as well as featuring Louis CK, Charlie Kaufman, Robert Smigel and "Moral Orel" creator Dino Stamatopolous among its writing staff, a list of names that perhaps only the similarly short-lived "Freaks and Geeks" can compete with, in terms of watching big names early in their careers.
Increasingly, it looks as though the 2004 British series "Garth Marenghi's Darkplace" will serve the same function for talent across the pond. Based on the 2001 Perrier-award winning live show, focusing on an egotistical Stephen King-style horror writer and the short-lived 1980s supernatural medical drama in which he wrote, directed and starred, the series lasted only six episodes, but has gone on to gain a cult following. And those who were behind it have gone on to bigger and better things over time: Matt Berry cropped up in Duncan Jones' "Moon"; Alice Lowe has co-written and starred with Steve Oram in the upcoming "Sightseers," Ben Wheatley's follow-up to "Kill List"; while Richard Ayoade directed music videos before making a striking feature debut with this year's coming-of-age tale "Submarine."
But Garth Marenghi himself, Matthew Holness, has been relatively quiet, aside from small supporting roles in Ricky Gervais projects and the U.K. version of "Free Agents." But it looks like he's set to follow in the footsteps of Ayoade, with comedy site Chortle reporting that Warp Films, who were behind "Submarine" as well as "Tyrannosaur" and "Four Lions," are backing "The Reprisalizer," a film written, directed and starring Holness.
Like Garth Marenghi, the project follows a pulp novelist, in this case Kent crime novelist and his "Equalizer" style vigilante hero "The Reprizalizer" (Holness will play both roles). An official synopsis says that Finch writes "tall tales of brute force and rough justice from his isolated caravan, treading a thin line between reality and fantasy in an attempt to exorcise painful memories of his brother's death. When his ailing writing career grinds to a final halt, Terry’s compulsive and cathartic visions of violent retribution refuse to die with it, and a dark new chapter in the story of The Reprisalizer unfolds - where actions speak louder than words..."
The whole thing is based on Holness' debut short "A Gun for George," which premiered at the London Film Festival this year, and producer Ally Gipps ("Kill List") suggests that it'll be more serious fare than Holness' breakthrough character. The film is "not an out and out comedy...Matt is moving away from comedy." It sounds like there could be a sort of "Taxi Driver" sort of feel, and some viral marketing is already underway thanks to a site dedicated to Finch's fictional work with E-books and podcasts promised soon. Shooting will get underway in Kent next year for a 2013 release, and this will certainly be one to keep an eye on in the meantime, given the track record of both Warp and Holness.