TV review: WandaVision
Break out the pinboard, red string and wild theories – WandaVision is a televisual escape room for mystery lovers.
Aside from being the welcome return of Marvel content after the pandemic-enforced gap year, the show is also a left-field venture that will confound those only expecting action-adventure.
This is a return of the clue-laden mystery serial, the likes of which we haven’t seen since Lost’s heyday in the late 2000s.
It’s a mix of that seminal series, Legion, Pleasantville, Life On Mars and the many odd town shows that came after Twin Peaks.
Now, we know WandaVision is not officially available in Singapore until Disney+ launches here on Feb 23.
But given that plenty of people here know all the details about that streaming service’s The Mandalorian, why wait?
On the face of it – based on the first three episodes shown to the media – WandaVision is a series of faithful recreations of mid-century US sitcoms, with I Love Lucy and Bewitched being the most prominent inspirations.
The scripts are indistinguishable – full of very gentle gags, contrived set-ups and laugh tracks.
All while skirting around the elephant breaching their world’s fourth wall.
Not to dish spoilers, but Vision (Paul Bettany) did not make it out of 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War.
Yet here they are, Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision blissfully together in a neatly manicured (and strangely child-free) suburbia – no clue how they arrived there, when their anniversary is or what Vision does at work.
But these questions are brushed off with a happy sitcom shrug and a smile – most of the time.
Olsen and Bettany seem to relish their sitcom personas. Their tipsy magic act in the second episode is great fun.
Yet there, concurrent to the kitsch, is the mystery. Why are they there? Is Wanda a prisoner or a jailer?
Next-door neighbour Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) seems to know more than she lets on. Some conversations stand out for their incongruity.
And each episode is loaded and packed with clues.
Every prop, every logo, the fake adverts, the songs on the radio – even the second episode’s theme tune, an outwardly fun riff on the Bewitched title animation – point to sinister goings-on.
Half the fun of WandaVision will be poring over episodes (there’s already a wealth of YouTube deep dives).
The biggest question with any mystery tale is: Can the big reveal stick the landing?
But until that crash into reality, it's going to be a fun ride sleuthing.
Hopefully, there are no massive reveals until the series properly hits screens in Singapore.
STARRING: Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Kathryn Hahn, Teyonah Parris
DIRECTOR: Matt Shakman
THE SKINNY: Marvel superheroes Wanda Maximoff (Olsen) and Vision (Bettany) move into a new home in the idyllic 1950s suburbia of Westview, but all is not what it seems.
SHOWING: Premieres Feb 23 on Disney+