WandaVision Season 1 Review

Rating:

WandaVision: Now in Color

Main Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Kathryn Hahn, Teyonah Parris 
Created by: Jac Schaeffer

Chorus:She’s a magical gal in a small town locale
He’s a hubby who’s part machine
How will this duo fit in and pull through?

Oh, by sharing a love like you’ve never seen.”

WandaVision!” – “Filmed Before A Live Studio Audience” (Season 1, Episode 1)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is no stranger to long shots, but WandaVision takes the cake. Creating a show starring two of the less popular Avengers that swaps out the grandiose action for sitcom antics and romantic drama? Having this departure from the norm be the first MCU release after a year of nothing? They’re really playing the odds now.

WandaVision is an ambitious experiment, but will that be enough to get the ball rolling on the MCU’s Phase 4? Let’s find out.

The Good

Daydream Believer

Vision: “Well, Dr. Nielsen, I hope you’re still able to make your trip.”
Doctor Nielsen:Ah, yes, my trip. I don’t think we’ll get away after all. Small towns, you know? So hard to… escape.

“Now in Color” (Season 1, Episode 3)

Scarlet Witch and Vision have settled in the small town of Westview. They try to keep to themselves and pretend to be normal, despite the antics that keep occurring around them. Wanda might struggle to find excuses for her powers when a nosy neighbor is visiting, while Vision prepares for an important dinner with his boss.

It doesn’t take long to find out something is off. Neither Wanda nor Vision remember their wedding or how they got to town. None of Vision’s friends know what he does at his job. Strangers keep wondering who Wanda is or subtly hinting that something is wrong. And every now and again. a message will appear asking Wanda who is doing this to her.

It becomes apparent that the sitcom trappings are a disguise. WandaVision is a psychological horror show. Someone or something is manipulating the Scarlet Witch, who seems to have power over the show itself. Something happens that she doesn’t like? The scene rewinds and it goes away. Black and white shifts to color TV? The characters notice. But who is behind the show?

The Times, They Are a-Changin’

Darcy: [Watching WandaVision] “1950s, 1960s, and now the ’70s. Why does it keep switching time periods? It can’t be purely for my enjoyment, can it?

“We Interrupt This Program” (Season 1, Episode 4)

WandaVision is one part TV show and one part retrospective of classic sitcoms. Starting as a black and white show with a laugh track, the setting advances one decade with each episode. Outfits, decorations, and character traits shift to reflect what was popular on television in that era.

The show begins by parodying older sitcoms like the Dick Van Dyke Show. Later episodes feature different styles of sitcoms, like the destructive shenanigans of Malcolm in the Middle or the Very Special Episodes that were so prevalent in the Eighties.

If changing WandaVision’s aesthetics and style of humor wasn’t enough, every episode also gets new opening credits in the style of that decade. The Seventies episode parodies The Partridge Family opening while an episode set in the 2000’s features minimalist credits like The Office.

The throwbacks are nostalgic for older viewers and might get newer fans interested in yesteryear’s comedies.

A Little Help From My Friends

Woo:All right. Brass tacks, Dr. Lewis. What are we looking at here? Is it an alternate reality? Time travel? Some cockamamie social experiment?
Darcy:It’s a sitcom. A 1950s sitcom.
Woo:But why?
Darcy:Hey, man, we’re working with the same scarcity of intel.

“We Interrupt This Program” (Season 1, Episode 4)

Scarlet Witch and Vision may have the sitcom side of the show under control, but there’s another side to this equation. People outside of the sitcom are aware that something is happening to the town and investigating. That’s where the supporting cast enters the picture.

First is Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s counterpart S.W.O.R.D. A younger version of the character previously appeared in 2019’s Captain Marvel. Monica is sent to investigate the missing town, even entering the affected area to get a firsthand look at the situation.

Next is Jimmy Woo (Randall Park), a dorky FBI agent who serves as a liaison to S.W.O.R.D. He previously appeared in Ant Man and The Wasp. Agent Woo serves as the everyman who needs advanced concepts explained for the audience’s benefit. He also investigates S.W.O.R.D. once he notices one of the higher-ups acting sketchy.

Rounding out the reunion trio is Kat Dennings’ Darcy Lewis, reprising her role from Thor. The former intern has become an astrophysicist and discovers that WandaVision is being aired in-universe. She is recruited by S.W.O.R.D. to study the disappeared town, which she nicknames The Hex. Darcy and Agent Woo study the characters and episodes to figure out who is manipulating Wanda and Vision, inadvertently acting like a lot of real viewers.

The Bad

Slow Ride

Mr. Hart: “You know, I owe my success to being a keen judge of character. No skeletons in your closet, eh, Vision?
Vision: “I don’t have a skeleton, sir.
Mr. Hart: “Glad to hear it. Your future in this company depends on it.” –

“Filmed Before A Live Studio Audience” (Season 1, Episode 1)

WandaVision‘s dramatic and horror scenes are excellent, but the show takes its sweet time getting to them.

The most noticeable pacing problems are in the first few episodes when they play the most hackneyed sitcom tropes completely straight. There are one or two “something is wrong” scenes, but the rest of the episode invariably acts like an old-fashioned sitcom to mixed results.

As fun as awkward dinners with your boss or screwing up a talent show can be, they aren’t why most MCU fans watch. You would get whiplash comparing the first few episodes of WandaVision to Avengers: Endgame or Spider-Man: Far From Home. The problem mostly clears up in the third episode and is gone by the fourth, but the slow start may turn away fans before they reach that point.

Devil In Disguise

Wanda:Why so formal, honey?
Vision:Oh, it’s just a precaution, really. I had a hunch someone might pop over…
The Villain:Hi, kiddos!
Vision: … With exactly the item we require.

“On a Very Special Episode” (Season 1, Episode 5)

One of WandaVision’s biggest mysteries revolves around learning who is manipulating Wanda. Unfortunately, the show is not subtle about shoving the villain in the viewer’s face. Don’t worry, we won’t say who it is.

The Villain debuts as one of Wanda and Vision’s friends alongside other in-universe supporting characters. The friends soon fade into the background while The Villain’s own role increases. They always find an excuse to drop in for some screen time and to help out with the episode’s dilemma.

The writers seem to realize that The Villain was too obvious. When they are finally revealed, The Villain launches into a villain song set to the The Munsters theme about how they have been manipulating everyone the whole time. The Villain is one of the more entertaining additions to the MCU It’s just a shame that the mystery’s solution was so obvious.

The Verdict

WandaVision is an excellent drama and creepy horror series. It explores two of the less popular Avengers while giving popular side characters time to shine. It suffers from a slow start, and the villain could have been more subtle, but Wandavision is a strong start for the MCU’s next phase.

Elizabeth Olson as Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany as Vision in Marvel Studios’ WANDAVISION exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marv3el Studios. (c) Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved..

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