The people who decide DVD releases are baffling. You used to be able to buy three episodes of Doctor Who on a single disc, at the same time as you could buy the entire series boxset. But that was pure money-grabbing tactics. What’s more confusing is the fact that Asylum has never received a release, despite the subsequent success of the creative team. It was written by David Walliams (pre-Little Britain) and Edgar Wright, and stars Jessica Hynes and Simon Pegg. The next thing those three worked on together was Spaced, which put into motion the Cornetto Trilogy, which have to be some of the most successful British films of the past decade. And then there’s the other cast members, at least half of which are successful comedians in their own right: Norman Lovett, Bill Bailey, Julian Barrett, Andy Parsons...
Given that it’s so early on in everyone’s careers, it’s interesting to watch to see the genesis of some of the more distinctive styles that would make everyone involved famous. Take Edgar Wright’s famously referential directing, crammed full of pop culture references even in the way shots are constructed. That’s here in its infancy, from an echo of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to the Mexican standoff that ends the final episode. It’s not as quick and dynamic as his later work, which is generally made up of close-ups and quick pans to keep the action moving. Instead it’s slower, with more Dutch angles to mirror the unease and slight insanity of the inhabitants.
One day, Asylum might be available in glorious Technicolor for all to watch. Until then, if you can manage to catch it, go in with an open mind and don’t expect to see your run-of-the-mill sitcom.
Did you watch Asylum when it came out?
What did you think of it?
Let us know in the comments!