This month on Dispodopolis, we discuss the Disney+ release of "WandaVision." There is a lot of hype surrounding the first Marvel production created for Disney+. We were able to dive into the first two episodes on our latest podcast. We cover all the fun, jokes, and symbolism that flows through both episodes. We also talk about the theories that are flying around the internet. There are many, and we help explain how some may be correct, and some may be far fetched. Is it worth the hype? Let's find out.
"Episode One: Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience" brings back an era when they would advertise certain aspects of their recording to encourage viewership. It is something you still see with ma and pa hotels in small towns. You can still see the signs outside the hotels offering "Color Television" and "Heated Pool." This episode is a step back in time to the beginning of the family sitcom that graced the air in the early fifties to the early sixties. There was even a sit-down session with Dick Van Dyke to receive his guidance with "WandaVision." In 1961, Dick Van Dyke got his start on television and headlined a show called "The Dick Van Dyke Show," with Mary Tyler Moore. We see Vision walk through a chair where Dick Van Dyke tripped over an ottoman. That show was in black and white using a 4/3 television ratio, and so does the first episode of "WandaVision."
The episode is full of dad jokes and miscommunications, which were familiar tropes that they would commonly use in early sitcoms, and these persist today because of their usefulness. We are introduced to Wanda Maximoff and Vision as they pull up in their "newly married" decorated car and arrive at their perfectly decorated new home. The miscommunication between them starts the next morning when they discover a heart on the calendar. Each doesn't know what it is for, but the other acknowledges that they do know. As the day unfolds, so do the misunderstandings.
Here we are introduced to Agnus, their next-door neighbor, helper in a pinch, and confidant. Some think she is Wanda's mentor Agatha Harkness. Agatha Harkness is also a witch that mentors Wanda and her talents. She may well be her mentor, and she proves to be beneficial to Wanda in the first two episodes. During the first episode, she helps Wanda plan a romantic evening for her and Vision. Then, she helps Wanda switch it to a business dinner to impress the boss, Mr. Hart, and his wife. Agnus' husband, Ralph, is never shown and could never live up to the description, but we know that he looks better in the dark.
We soon realize that Wanda and Vision don't have a back story, and they don't know how to present themselves. This becomes painfully evident during the dinner party. Mr. and Mrs. Hart start to wonder if they will ever be feed. When dinner is served, the Harts start asking questions, and all turns for the worst when Mr. Hart starts choking during his line of questioning. Mrs. Hart can only sit in despair, laughter, and repeat over and over, "Stop it!" We wonder at this point if Wanda isn't responsible for the situation that has befallen Mr. Hart. Is she trying to stop the obsessive questions? Does she feel guilt for the way she handled the situation? She eventually breaks character and tells Vision to help Mr. Hart. Once Vision removes the obstruction, they all return to their characters as if nothing had happened. The Harts excuse themselves to leave after a lovely evening.
Wanda and Vision end their evening trying to create a back story, rings and pick out a song. Many questions are raised with the first episode, and additional questions sprout up as we close out with the credits. We pull back to see they are on a television screen being watched with someone holding a remote and a journal with the SWORD emblem on it. SWORD (sentient, weapon, observation, and response division) seems to be watching over what is transpiring.
The closing credits display the science of color television. The pixels break down into their RGB (red, green, and blue) form. They create a three-dimensional form that emphasizes some of the objects that adorn the episode. Learning about the colors that create light is a fun experiment you can do at home. You can take a red, blue, and green translucent film and hold each one in front of a flashlight and see how they reflect the color. But if you layer the films, the color changes and becomes lighter. You can also visit a website called the Physics Classroom to duplicate that experiment online.
"The Second Episode: Don't Touch that Dial" beckons a time when televisions had knobs and dials that turned, and you had to stand up to change your channel or the volume. It also reminds us of the perfection that was expected of individuals in social situations during the sixties. We are introduced to some new characters and upgrades in our television viewing.
It opens with Wanda and Vision sleeping in separate beds, and this opening scene ends with the beds pushed together and Wanda switching them to one. This is a direct influence from "I Love Lucy" and how the show developed over the years, starting with separate beds and then the television board, several years later, allowing them to have one. This scene leads to opening credits for this episode deeply rooted in the show "Bewitched." This is purely intentional, even down to the scriptwriting of WandaVision that echoes Bewitched exactly. It also reminds one of the "Jetsons" opening. The Jetsons was an animated television show that was played during primetime in the early sixties.
We soon find out that the town of Westview is having a talent show "for the children." Wanda and Vision have transformed themselves into Illusion and Glamour and created a cabinet of mystery box with a painted motif to match the Mind Stone. After a quick rehearsal, Wanda heads to the ladies' committee meeting, and Vision heads to the neighborhood watch committee. These meetings, the practice, and the talent show are all held within a couple of hours.
At the ladies' committee meeting, we are introduced to a cast of characters that round out the town of Westview. Agnus is there to guide her through the introduction and meeting with Dottie. How do you explain Dottie? She is definitely straight out of the Stepford wives with psychotic undertones. Wanda allows her to put her in her place, or is somebody else controlling this situation? She also meets Geraldine at the meeting. Who is Geraldine? She isn't actually Geraldine, she is Monica Rambeau, the daughter of Maria Rambeau, the best friend of Captain Marvel. Does Geraldine know who she is?