Director Matt Shakman, Chief Writer Jac Schaeffer, and Production Designer Mark Worthington clearly have tons of affection for these TV classics, and virtually every detail here serves as a tribute. There is undoubted solace to be found in these recognizable storylines and in the clear pleasure of Olsen, Bettany, and the supporting cast, especially Hahn’s sneaky assault as a curious neighbor (his performance of ‘How Someone’ one doing that sober (the particularly painful women’s committee meeting is fantastic) and the warm and reliable Teyonah Parris as Wanda’s quick friend, Geraldine. But there are only so many ways to joke about Vision not eating food, and the couple using Wanda’s Sarkovian ancestry to explain their weirdness, and Vision not understanding the details of human sex. And once “WandaVision” starts recycling the same content in each episode, it becomes hard to ignore that the show’s main interest is to play with form rather than propelling its story.
To be fair, the series is relatively different from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, which darken as Phase Three of the franchise comes to an end, and the Marvel series on Netflix, like “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones, ”and“ Luke Cage, ”which were interconnected within themselves, but which weren’t really related to the movies in general. In “WandaVision”, however, the characters laugh! Wanda and Vision can be in love! Vision makes a joke about confusing “chewing” and “masturbation”! For these low-stakes pleasures alone, “WandaVision” delivers. But the question remains: what do we learn about Wanda and Vision by recreating the proportions, costume design and special effects of the past? What is the point of placing them in the suburbs of yesteryear, and what singular insights are really provided of these times and this place? “WandaVision” doesn’t explain why its titular characters would retreat into this nostalgia, and without this background knowledge, its recreations seem increasingly empty. Perhaps the series will explore this in the remaining six episodes that have not been provided for review. But until then, “WandaVision” asks the question “What exactly is your story?” of its titular characters, but has no answer for that.
“WandaVision” will air on Disney + on Friday, January 15. Three out of nine episodes are screened for review.