Dick Van Dyke influenced and assisted this Marvel hit show
He even convinced them to film an episode in front of a live studio audience!
WandaVision took TV by storm in 2021. It was a critical darling, leading to 23 Emmy nominations, and after each episode fans flooded the internet to disuss and speculate about where the series would go next. One of the most unique things about the show was how each episode paid homage to different eras of television, from the 1950s to the mid-2000s.
The very first episode, "Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience," would go on to set the tone for the whole series. This black-and-white domestic setting brings comparisons to I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, and, of course, The Dick Van Dyke Show.
That was no accident. In fact, director Matt Shakman went right to the source for help: Dick Van Dyke himself.
"I asked him for the secret sauce, what made that show work so well," Shakman said. Van Dyke told him how every week the stars would sit down with Carl Reiner and talk about things happening in their lives, and some of those things would make it into the show. This, Van Dyke said, was what made the comedy still feel genuine.
"Everyone believed in that relationship between Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke as a couple. That’s what we needed too," Shakman said.
The creative team was so taken with Dick Van Dyke's words that they decided to take it a step further and do something that isn't frequently seen anymore: filming in front of a live studio audience. "It had a real lightning-in-a-bottle feel. We did that for our first show. You are holding hands and jumping off a cliff."
Stars Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda) and Kathryn Hahn (Agnes) were unsure about this step out of their comfort zone. Paul Bettany (Vision) was especially skeptical. "When Matt said we’re going to do it in front of a live audience, I thought, no we’re not," Bettany said.
However, once he felt the same magic that Van Dyke had when he filmed his sitcom, he came around. "But he was right. It gave us a project quality that feels very similar to that era, which I don’t think I was clever enough to achieve, to be somebody who works for an audience."
So the next time you binge-watch this Marvel show, see if you can spot that special Van Dyke touch in the first episode.