Saturday, March 25, 2023

WandaVision: Review of season 1, episodes 1 and 2

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Was a scene featuring Vision singing a rendition of Coasters’ “Yakety Yak” on your MCU wishlist? Almost certainly not. But WandaVision’s two-part premiere effortlessly proves why it should have been. Marvel’s first attempt at a sitcom is a delight, and much of that success is due to Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen’s wonderful handling of his vintage-style script. Upon exiting, WandaVision makes it clear that the series is a sitcom. . Yes, there’s also the tantalizing mystery that SWORD can possibly pull the strings (more on that later), but the majority of WandaVision’s runtime – at least in these two episodes – is spent in situational comedy. Writers Jac Schaeffer and Gretchen Enders provide some fantastic gags, although they work in what can sometimes appear to be outdated settings due to the slavish replication of settings from the 1950s and 1960s. Vision’s joke that the chewing gum was meant for chewing, for example, made me scream, both at the pun and at the old-fashioned response of his friends. The “ drunken ” robot performance that follows, combined with the authentic Hanna-Barbera style animations, only makes the humor worse. Who would have thought that the ethereal Paul Bettany from the Avengers could be such a natural comedian?Of the two episodes, the second is clearly the funniest, as it spins fewer plates than the opening half hour and can therefore focus more on testing Wanda and Vision’s talent show. In contrast, the early ’50s storyline, aside from being a loving tribute to classics like I Love Lucy, does a lot of work to get the show’s rather meta concept off the ground. Through the use of a delicious theme and self-aware title cards that use the names of the characters rather than their actors, this firmly establishes the show’s false reality, generating a sense of unease around the vintage style. The couple’s confusion over the calendar date of August 23 helps fuel the mystery, while also serving as a fairly typical sitcom plot to pay the tribute. That so many elements in this first half hour can work on both the show universe and the meta-levels is a writing feat. Perhaps the best example of this is Wanda’s comment on Vision’s indestructible head, which functions as a cute housewife quip while acting as a grim dramatic irony, as we viewers know her head has been. torn apart by Thanos in Infinity War. like the elements of the sitcom and marvel at the show’s dedication to that unlikely format, the darker side of WandaVision is what really pulls me through this first part. Particularly noteworthy are the visual techniques that the series uses to handle this, such as splashes of bright red color injected into the monochrome palette. It’s rather striking when Dottie cuts his hand on broken glass, and his response is muted enough to keep it a mystery as to whether the people of Westview are in the know or not. The best example, however, comes from the first episode, when Fred Melamed’s Mr. Hart begins to choke on his food. Director Matt Shakman goes from a classic multi-camera sitcom setup to a more dramatic single-camera format, bringing the lens straight to the dinner table and performing slow, eerie zooms. It’s a fascinating way to shatter the fourth wall that’s practically Lynchian in design, and serves as a promise that the show is much darker than most of its twees would suggest.At this point though, that is largely what it is: a promise. Because as enjoyable and mysterious as this two-part premiere is, everything is set up and very little in the form of plot development. It would seem less complicated if this premiere wasn’t two separate episodes, but rather a one-hour intro. But as it stands, the second episode – while more fun and confident – walks on almost identical ground to the first. The meta-level reveals minimal progress on the episode’s cliffhanger mystery, and so it almost feels like the series has stalled for a while. We can only hope that this is a design decision to make sure audiences are comfortable with the high concept premise (which admittedly may require some bedding for more viewers. occasional). The slow progression of more traditional elements of the MCU, however, provides space to introduce Wanda’s pregnancy, an event that seems to indicate we should invest in the sitcom itself, rather than pin all expectations on the underlying mystery. to propel the plot of the series.

But what a mystery! At the end of the first episode, a mysterious observer introduces us to WandaVision, surrounded by equipment displaying the SWORD logo. Apparently teased for inclusion in the MCU at the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home, the Sentient World’s Observation and Response department (or whatever in the MCU) is one of Marvel’s key organizations in the comics, and essentially functions as a cosmic counterpart to SHIELD. Exactly how this relates to Wanda and Vision is far from clear at this time, especially since none of the characters fall under the organization’s typical jurisdiction in the comics. Additionally, SWORD’s presentation so far portrays them in a much more sinister way than the comics, especially the Agent surrounded by… bees? Does SWORD have a bee division now?Additionally, while Wanda appears to be trapped in a sweet TV nightmare that reunites her with Vision, it appears that she has some control over this reality, as evidenced by her ability to rewind Agent SWORD and add color. in the world. Is Wanda imprisoned or is this a world she created? WandaVision may be keeping its cards tight to its chest right now, but it has certainly provided enough mysterious fuel to keep us engaged.


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