WandaVision Episode 1 – Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience Review
Filmed before a live studio audience, the first episode of “WandaVision” seems purposefully – and mischievously – designed to catch its audience completely off-guard. A monochromatic (for the most part) homage to the likes of “I Love Lucy” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show”, its twee 1950s suburban setting, replete with all the trappings of a multi-camera sitcom set up, is literally and figuratively a universe away from the cosmic cataclysms of “Avengers: Endgame”. And therein lies its strongest appeal.
Happy couple Wanda and Vision move into the idyllic suburb of Westview and set up home. Despite the occasional nagging suspicion that something isn’t quite right, there’s no time to dwell on it because today is an important day – only neither Wanda or Vision can remember why.
It has to be said, when the MCU commits to a genre, they fully commit and so episode one of “WandaVision” is absolutely a by-the-numbers 1950s domestic sitcom, right down to the nosy neighbour (Kathryn Hahn) and fearsomely judgemental boss (Fred Melamed). The main plot, that of Wanda preparing for a special anniversary evening while Vision brings the boss home for dinner, is straight out of the big book of sitcom classics, a trope so reliable it’s almost as old as television itself but here, shadowing the whimsical black and white comedy, there’s still an undercurrent of unease and a subtle, uncomfortable surreality that promises big things from this series as the weeks progress.
Both Olson and Bettany seem to be revelling in the chance to play something lighter, and frothier, than the super-heroic melodramatics they’ve had thus far – with Bettany providing further evidence of his comic chops while Olson positively channels Lucille Ball at times. The most intriguing aspect by far is that in this most conventional of settings, their power sets remain
Of course, this initial “WandaVision” episode does little to nothing to answer any of the big questions fans – and audiences in general – will bring to this MCU Disney+ vanguard (especially the $64,000 dollar question mark hovering over Vision’s resurrection) but it is absolutely stuffed with Easter Egg references to the wider Marvel pantheon which may or may not be hinting at things to come not just for this series but the wider franchise as a whole (for a half-hour of television, it’s unfeasibly packed with content to pore over). Of course, just as you think it’s going to conclude with no real tip of the hat to the audience that all is very much not as it seems, it throws in just enough of a discordant tease that you’ll likely find it nigh on impossible to resist watching the second episode immediately.
Rodney Twelftree January 18, 2021
If this is the MCU’s soft reboot back to 2008 ground-floor entry, I’m all-in!! Can’t wait for this mystery to unspool!
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