‘WandaVision’: The 1st Episode Has a Sweet Scene Inspired By ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’
Even before a moment of WandaVision aired, it was well known that Marvel Studios’ first TV show would spoof TV through the decades. The initial artwork showed Wanda and Vision in what appeared to be 1950’s domestic bliss along the lines of I Love Lucy or Leave it to Beaver.
There was another show, however, from another decade that turned out to be the key influence on WandaVision. That show featured a bona-fide Disney Legend, Dick Van Dyke, who helped the show in more ways than one.
How long did ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ run?
The show ran for five seasons on CBS from 1961 to 1965. While that may seem like a short run compared to other CBS stalwarts like The Beverly Hillbillies, which ran for nine seasons, or Gunsmoke, which ran for an astonishing 20 seasons, The Dick Van Dyke Show is arguably the most influential of the lot.
For one thing, it made Van Dyke’s name, and it also propelled Mary Tyler Moore to fame, with her going on to have her own very successful self-titled show in the 1970s, as well as a production company responsible for shows like WKRP in Cincinnati and Hill Street Blues. However, the reasons for its importance go beyond its stars.
According to a retrospective from Nola.com, “The influence of that show in direct and indirect ways can’t be overstated, ” said Vince Waldron, author of The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book: The Definitive History of Television’s Most Enduring Comed “It rewrote the book on quality television so profoundly that its DNA has been absorbed by every group show done since.”
A number of people who worked behind the scenes went on to create or help shape other shows and movies. The primary creative force on the show was Carl Reiner, who would go on to direct movies like The Jerk. Garry Marshall, who would create many fondly remembered shows of the 70s, including Happy Days and Mork and Mindy, also worked on The Dick Van Dyke Show.
What was the scene inspired by ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show?’
The conceit of WandaVision, for the first few episodes at least, was that each show would pay tribute to a decade of television. The first episode was a parody of the 1950s, the second the 1960s and so on.
The show didn’t always follow a straight line, more or less skipping the 1990s, but it still took Avengers Wanda and Vision on a journey through television history combined with more typical Marvel heroics.
Per BuzzFeed, the very first episode of WandaVision was influenced by The Dick Van Dyke Show – specifically when Vision carries Wanda into their house, and he almost trips over the chair. This was a reference to the credits of The Dick Van Dyke Show, with Van Dyke stumbling over an ottoman.
However, Marvel wasn’t content merely to pay tribute. They truly wanted to get the feel of sitcoms right. So they called in none other than Dick Van Dyke himself to help them with that process.
Dick Van Dyke is still going strong
Marvel President Kevin Feigie and WandaVision director Matt Shakman met with Van Dyke at Disneyland to discuss WandaVison. Shakman recalled: “We learned from Dick Van Dyke that their number one rule for how they approached anything [on the show ] was that if it couldn’t happen in real life, it can’t happen on the show, Which is this idea that you need to ground what you’re doing in real-life stories, but then that gives you the permission to be incredibly silly and to fall over the ottoman and do pratfalls.”
It’s enough to make one wish that Van Dyke could have appeared in the show himself and have him be the legend that Paul Bettany always wanted to work with. Even though it was not to be, Van Dyke’s place as a Disney legend, and a legend period, only gets more valuable as time goes on.