WandaVision: Don't Touch That Dial

“Wanda, who's doing this to you?”

It is fitting that WandaVision has ended up being Marvel Studios' first Disney+ show. What better way to kick off this new phase of small screen Marvel stories than with a show that is one big tribute to classic television?

This episode was one glorious love letter to the wonderful world of Bewitched complete with cute animated credits and the entire house changing to closer match the Stephens' house. Wanda and Vision, our Samantha and Darrin, are trying to do something normal to fit in with their neighbours, in this case take part in a local talent show for charity. But things go terribly wrong when Vision accidentally swallows some gum which messes up his robot insides and turns him into a complete drunk during the show. It also makes him 25% more cockney. In true Bewitched style, Wanda saves the day with her magic without anyone catching on.

If this episode proved anything, it's that if WandaVision was just a wacky sitcom about a suburban witch and her bumbling robot husband trying to live normal lives in small town America with nothing sinister going on beneath the surface, I would still enjoy it. The key to making a show like this work is the acting. Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany both nail the kind of exaggerated performing you expect from classic sitcoms without it ever becoming too exaggerated. They don't play it like they're in a parody of old sitcoms, they play it like they really are the stars of an old sitcom. WandaVision isn't a show trying to make fun of Bewitched. It's a show trying sincerely to be Bewitched.
Which makes sense if this is indeed a world of Wanda's own making. If she's using her powers to make her fantasy of sitcom happy families with Vision a reality, it stands to reason that she'd want it to be as authentic as possible. The voice on the radio keeps asking her who is doing this to her and the answer looks almost certainly to be herself. The magic show wasn't just a wacky sitcom plot for Wanda and Vision to play out, it was also a reflection of her real role in all this. Wanda is literally the one pulling all the strings. I don't think she has complete control over this world, but she has enough control that she can rewind and reset things when they start to go off script.

But what if this isn't all Wanda's doing? If there is some other force at work showrunning things behind the scenes, what are they ultimately after? This episode might've given us a pretty disturbing clue. Everyone keeps asking Wanda when she and Vision are going to have children. The talent show they enter is for local children and everyone kept chanting “For the children” in a very creepy way. But where are all the children? There were no children at the talent show for children. No one mentions having children. We don't see children playing in the neighbourhood. There are no children in this town. At least, not yet. Wanda's now suddenly very pregnant. Is that why all of this is being done? Is it all, quite literally, for the children?
I have no idea why anyone would want their children (besides the potential powers they might have), but if I had to guess who was responsible for all this, my money would be on Agnes. Everyone Wanda has interacted with so far has had a brief moment when they seem to glitch and become slightly aware that something isn't right before reality snaps them back into place. Everyone, that is, except for Agnes. We haven't seen her glitch once. She's also the most proactive in helping Wanda settle into her new environment. She even called Wanda “the star of the show” suggesting that she is somewhat aware of what is happening. And what about the often mentioned Ralph? Is he just your classic unseen character, the Maris of Westview, or is he going to be revealed as the diabolical mastermind behind all of this?

Notes and Quotes

--The show switching to colour at the end was fitting since Bewitched was a show that started off in black and white before changing to colour.
--Part of me wished they'd fully committed to the Bewitched tribute and had Vision played by a different actor halfway through the episode.

--The adverts in each episode reference key events in Wanda's life. The first referenced Stark Industries, the company that built the bombs that killed her parents and nearly killed her and her brother. The second referenced Baron Von Strucker and HYDRA, who were responsible for giving the Maximoff twins their powers. And why is it always the same man and woman in these ads? Who are they? Are they her parents or the people she believes to be her parents? The X-Men fan in me is hoping they'll use this show to introduce the concept of mutants and her father as well. I refuse to acknowledge the recent retcon in the comics because it was dumb and obviously driven by petty corporate politics.

--It's still not entirely clear if this entire town is something Wanda has created or a real one she hijacked for her extreme sitcom cosplaying.

--Because Marvel organisations are all about the branding, the toy helicopter Wanda found and the mysterious bee keeper were both sporting the same logo, which we saw at the end of the previous episode. Whoever they are (I know, but will keep quiet for all the non-comic readers out there), they're obviously trying to break into this world, but I'm guessing whenever something enters Westview it is quickly reworked to fit the world. The toy helicopter was probably a drone and the bee keeper a guy in a hazmat suit. What happened to him when Wanda hit rewind? Was he expelled from Westview or recast as a new character we'll meet in the next episode?
--The previous episode was entirely studio bound and filmed before a live audience. This episode made greater use of exterior locations.

--Like most TV couples at the time, Wanda and Vision initially slept in separate beds because censors thought it was indecent to have married couples sharing a bed.

--During the credits, there are bones between the floorboards along with the helmet of the Grim Reaper, a Marvel villain. This is a reference to Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta's 2015 Vision comic, which is one of the main inspirations for this series.
--Emma Caulfield Ford was great as Dottie. She's got the skill and the experience to pull off the multiple tones of this show. Hope the escaped bunny didn't freak her out.

Dottie: “The devil's in the details.”
Agnes: “That's not the only place he is.”

Vision: “Flourish!”

Wanda: “What do you see?”
Vision: “Only your lovely rose bushes.”
Wanda: “That's all? Are you using your night vision, Vision?”

Three out of four cabinets of mystery.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011 More Mark Greig

9 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Mark, this is an interesting read. A lot of these details were lost on me because I'm just not into the MCU, so these details were really helpful. I have no idea what is happening or where this is going.

sunbunny said...

Are we doing a decade an episode? The premiere was obviously the 50s while this ventured into the 60s. Was the first episode also an homage to a classic show? None that I recognized but I’m hardly an expert. Billie mentioned the Dick Van Dyke Show but I never saw that show. It wasn’t on Nick at Nite’s offerings when I was a kid haha. I agree with you, Mark, if this was just a retro style sitcom with little Marvel Easter eggs and nothing sinister going on I would be enjoying it. Actually maybe I should pull out my I Dream of Jeannie DVDs...

As for what’s going on, I’m not totally on board with the “It’s all Wanda” theory but she does seem to have some control over what’s going on. Love the commercials. I wonder if Pietro is going to show up in some form. The HYDRA logo on the Strucker watch filled me with geeky glee.

Mark Greig said...

Sunbunny, I think it is going to be a different decade and classic family sitcom per episodes. I'm guessing the next episode will be The Brady Bunch next and then maybe Family Ties for the 80s. I'm hoping they do Full House for the 90s for obvious reasons.

Mierzwiak said...

They're going from 50s to 00s in thefirst dix episodes, so in episode 7 things should go fully into the modern times and longer runtime.

Oh, this is gonna be a gas!

Mierzwiak said...

PS. Sorry for the typos!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I have a chance to supply some Useful Information on the Billie Doux site.

I can say that the first episode was certainly based on the Dick Van Dyke Show, which aired from '61-'66. I don't know why they started with the Sixties, rather than the Fifties. Both shows used so far have a husband/wife lead that is the focus of the show, rather than a family/children focused show, which makes sense since this is WandaVision. They could have used The Honeymooners or I Love Lucy, both from the Fifties, but both of those shows had a secondary couple that was integral to the stories.

It will be interesting to see if they switch over to family focused shows when/if they add a child

sunbunny said...

Anonymous, that is VERY useful information. I've never seen a single episode of the Dick Van Dyke show, hence the reference going over my head.

If this is all happening because of Wanda, does that mean she's seen these shows?

Billie Doux said...

Anonymous, yes, thank you so much for the information. :) The Dick Van Dyke Show was good; I rewatched most of it a few years ago when I remembered the episode about the thumbs called, "It May Look Like a Walnut."

That episode is freely available on Youtube, btw.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vU7Dzd16Tn4

Valkyrie30 said...

Amazing review!!

You included so many interesting points! The bewitched homage, and the thing about the children. That point you make about Agnes was something I had missed completely. I love that actress.

I hadn’t thought that Wanda may be making this universe herself- it made everything make a little more sense so thank you! My husband is wondering if it’s a bit like the Truman Show. Interesting...

Looking forward to more reviews!