I don’t know whether it’s a symptom of lockdown (as well as crying, obsessively weighing myself and burying my entire head in a packet of Walker Sensations poppadum crisps), but recently I’ve been getting nostalgic for the TV programmes of my youth. When I came home from school as a bored 12- year-old, my favourite programme was that fun, misogynistic tale of housewifery and black magic, Bewitched.
God, I loved it, even though I could never figure out why somebody like Samantha, who could orchestrate chaos with one cutesy little nose wrinkle, still had to play second fiddle to Darrin, a sweaty and useless advertising exec who always seemed one step away from total nervous collapse. But, like the plotline of its often-repeated counterpart I Dream of Jeannie (woman in a bottle wearing a bikini does nice things for a man) there wasn’t much point in thinking too hard about it. It was just magical, enjoyable, fluffy escapism, with terrifying and unknown female superpowers at the centre of the action.
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These days, kids aren’t allowed to go to school, but they do have WandaVision, which is essentially Bewitched if Samantha and Darrin were trapped in a retro simulation, masterminded by sinister forces within the Marvel Universe. It stars Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff, AKA the Scarlet Witch (Marvel’s answer to Samantha, but with goth-night-at-Spiders-nightclub-in-Hull vibes) and Paul Bettany as Vision (annoying android with unwieldy head). Their idealised suburban adventures follow all the tropes of a classic episode – nosy neighbours, dinner magicked out of nowhere, hilarious misunderstandings with the boss – except something is REALLY NOT RIGHT.
Having spent the last 10 years being forced to take on board various aspects of the Marvel Universe as part of the parenting contract, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it. Chris Hemsworth isn’t even in it, and there’s no hilarious stoned space raccoon either. And it really is quite a departure, in that the show’s old-fashioned qualities don’t just extend to the concept. Marvel fans, despite being perfectly capable of sitting through almost four hours of Thanos fondling a bejewelled glove, are complaining that the pace is too slow.