REVIEW: WandaVision – Episode 1

VERIFICATION: WandaVision – Episode

Oh, it’s gonna be a gas!

Television ratingsЭпизод 1.jpg

Marvel launched its Disney+ programs – and hopefully a more financially stable year – with WandaVision, its ode to television history.  The first two episodes came out on January 15, with a weekly show planned for the future. I’ll go through them separately for a cohesive experience that Marvel strives for, so I’m writing this without having seen episode 2 yet. WandaVision is undoubtedly an experiment, and while it’s too early to tell how successful it will be, the first episode is very amusing and captures the feel of classic television with a slight Marvel flair.

Episode 1 (apparently they don’t give a title to each entry) dives straight into the world of the sitcom that was teased in the trailers. Basically, it’s an episode of a 1950s comedy series in which Wanda and Vision are a married couple with superpowers leading the prototype comedy series. After a few silly allusions to their powers, they both notice that the heart was drawn on the calendar that day, but they don’t remember its meaning. A crazy neighbor, a strict boss and the boss’s grumpy wife help them understand in 22 minutes.

And I’m not kidding, the episode ends after exactly 22 minutes, which is the usual length of a half-hour show, not including the commercials. It’s a nice touch and one of the many elements WandaVision brings in to keep it a true sitcom. If you want to nitpick, that’s technically inaccurate; the 22-minute length didn’t start until the 1990s, when corporate greed led the networks to sell more advertising time and shorten the standard length of episodes. An episode of I Love Lucy or The Honeymoons would have lasted over 27 minutes in the 1950s. But it’s not necessary to be an idiot; 22 minutes is now commonly referred to as sitcom time, so it works. There are other embellishments: the aspect ratio, the outfits, the playful music, the idea that no one on the calendar is on a day that is not the 14th. February is, in connection with the anniversary.

And it’s just the characters, all of which are perfectly represented. Kathryn Hahn is her new roommate, Agnes, and that’s what looked unnerving at the time. A more experienced voice, with her head in the clouds, Wanda needs to fix her comical mistake with the situation. Fred Melamed is Mr. Dur, the boss of Vision (in an office Vision cannot see through), constantly angry and always looking for reasons to fire people. And Debra Jo Rupp – the eternal Kitty Foreman, and God bless her for it – is Mrs. Hart, the boss’s wife, more open and friendly. Each actor fits their character perfectly, and the world of sitcoms comes to life just as well as the cosmetic set.

In the middle are Wanda and Vision herself. Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany could probably have played these characters in their dreams, but at least in the first episode of WandaVision, they don’t play the same versions of Scarlet Witch and her cybernetic soulmate as they do in the movies. These characters are suitable for sitcoms. Wanda is a little June Cleaver by Lucy Ricardo, while Vision is the male archetype of the time, very generic and awkward, while his more colorful wife is a lot of fun. Both actors fit the set very well, with Olsen reacting just enough to feel authentic without making the comedy too broad, and Bettany playing the straight man convincingly even when he has to make a fool of himself. The way their powers blend with their surroundings is also nice and gives the episode a bit of an enchanted atmosphere (bad times, I know, but maybe they should skimp on that), and some of the special effects even give the impression that they might be from a bygone era.


Of course, we know that something must be happening below the surface, and there are very slight indications of this throughout the WandaVision pilot. The ridiculous plot – a married couple must give a dinner party for Mr and Mrs. Organizing hard that impresses them – or firing the vision rather than promoting it – has produced some epiphanies. For example, Wanda and Vision don’t know when they got married or where they came from to live in their current home. In fact, they don’t even have a wedding ring. And they seem to know it, because Wanda uses her magic to make golden bands for them at the end. And those old special effects give way to more modern film techniques when Vision suddenly has to go through a blocked esophagus and rescue his boss. Then there’s Mrs. Hart, who acts like a failing robot when Mr. Hart starts to choke; is it because she’s some kind of automaton that’s in high gear, or is it some kind of program where she’s given time to resolve the situation?

And the final scene, when the credits at the end of a sitcom confirm that they are being watched in some sort of program by people taking notes on their behavior. This seems to destroy my hypothesis that this is all an alternate universe that Wanda created for herself to deal with the Vision’s disappearance. We don’t know who these people are, what they want, or why they turned Wanda and Vision into regular programs, but their sense of Cabin in the Woods certainly permeates the remaining eight episodes, evoking a sense of dread for what is probably more fun.

Judgment: Large

And it’s fun, at least for now. The first episode of WandaVision is funny, well done, and is a nice tribute to the history of television, in keeping with the intentions of the producers. I imagine we will focus on a different era of television each week, at least initially, and I have a lot of fertile ground in that regard. If they’re that good, WandaVision may just expand the parameters of what we think Marvel can do with its film and now television properties.

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