WandaVision has has completely flipped everything we expect to see from Marvel on its head and brought us into a superpowered sitcom world. Matt Shakman, director of the new Disney+ series, talked with Disney about some of the advice he got from sitcom and Disney Legend Dick Van Dyke.

  • Back in 2019, Shakman and Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige with the Disney Legend to get some advice on how to creat a sitcom:
    • “The chance to talk to him about tone, about style and about the day-to-day of that show and how they put The Dick Van Dyke Show together was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Shakman said.
  • The trio met for lunch at Club 33 in Disneyland during the D23 Expo in 2019.
  • Shakman has pointed out one piece of advice he got from Dick Van Dyke multiple times while promoting the new series:
    • “I wanted to know how they created a comedy that lasted that long. And his answer was very simple. He said, ‘If it couldn’t happen in real life, it wouldn’t happen on the show,’” Shakman said. “[The Dick Van Dyke Show creator] Carl Reiner would begin every week by asking the cast what had happened in their lives and the funny things that had happened to their families. Then, he would take those stories and would weave them into the show; it was ripped from the family headlines. That grounded it and it allowed for there to be wild and crazy comedy, because it was always built on something that really happened in people’s family lives. That was really important.”
  • Shakman also touched on the fact that they filmed the first episode of WandaVision in front of a live studio audience. He explained that followed the model The Dick Van Dyke Show used for that as well:
    • “What I found especially interesting about how they put on The Dick Van Dyke Show is that they rehearsed it, and then when they did the performance for the audience, they didn’t stop and go back and do a “take two” of a scene or make any changes, which is very common now when you go to a live taping. The emcee who’s there, one of their big responsibilities is to keep the audience engaged take after take,” Shakman explained. “But the Dick Van Dyke Show was filmed from beginning to end—straight through—without any breaks. It was like watching a play, which I think is a tremendous gift to the live audience and in turn allows the live audience to give a giant gift to the actors. The audience was watching it like a play; they were invested and giving their whole energy to the process. And the actors in turn would feed off of that. That’s what we wanted to do as well. [For the WandaVision pilot, the crew] dressed up in costumes and the audience did, too. We treated it very much like it was happening in the late ’50s.”
  • Coincidentally, The Dick Van Dyke show began its run in 1961, but seemingly served as the primary inspiration for the series’ 50s-themed episode.
  • The series seems to be moving through various eras of classic sitcoms as it moves forward. You can watch the first three episodes of WandaVision on Disney+ now.
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