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WandaVision Title Sequences, Ranked
Obviously, as someone who has 11 hours of TV theme songs in his iTunes library and who spent much of childhood watching TV Land and Block Party Summer on Nick @ Nite… I was going to have to watch WandaVision at some point.
I mean, goodness, my favorite episodes of half my shows are the ones where they change the opening credits. And WandaVision changes the opening credits every week? In homage??? Yes, this is a program for me.
And WandaVision was, in fact, worth it just for the opening credits.
Here they are, ranked. I tried to keep spoilers out, but it's impossible to avoid discussing WandaVision's basic format... and clicking through to actually watch any of these videos will absolutely spoil you. Now, rankings:
#7. Episode 1, "A Newlywed Couple." The past is a foreign country, and WandaVision tried very very hard but could not quite grab the wholesome energy of the era. It's a technically and artistically impressive credit sequence, and I love it for that… but it lacks soul, and one of these has to end up ranked in last place. (This, incidentally, doubles as my review of the entire first episode.)
#6. Episode 5, "Making It Up As We Go Along." This is really, really right for the era. I can't dispute that. And the artists aren't struggling to get in the mindset the way they were when trying to handle the 1950s. But… eh, it had all the ingredients, then fizzled. That happens. But these credits aren't a patch on the credits they were riffing on. (That song, unlike this one, will stick in your ear for days.)
(UPDATE 29 March 2021: I must confess that "Making It Up As We Go Along" did, in fact, end up stuck in my ear for about a week. Also, the absolute perfection of the shots of Vision and Wanda at 1:09-1:11 have grown on me. I'd rate it at #3 today.)
#5. Episode 6, "Let's Keep It Going." As far as I know, this is both era-appropriate and beautiful, but I never cared for the sitcoms of this decade and I never much cared for its music, either. But it's nevertheless catchy enough to land squarely in the middle of the pack.
#4. Episode 7, "W-V 2000." This one was a gimme, because this time period was so recent and easy to remember and imitate. They put maybe 10% as much work in on this one as they did on Episode 1's "Newlywed Couple." But, you know what? It looked good, it sounded good, it felt good, and that's what we all want, in the end. If you can be more beautiful in a modern idiom than a 60-year-old one, that's fine and normal.
#3. Episode 7, Act 5, "All Along." Yes, this is the one that everyone will remember. This is a brilliant twist. It lends itself perfectly to memes. It does a great job visually answering a lot of questions about the series in short visual clips. It's a charming riff on a classic genre, one we didn't expect to see at this point in the series. It went to #1 in soundtracks on iTunes, which is pretty impressive for the fake opening of a fake TV show-within-a-show-within-a-show. It's got a great laugh at the end. But, scrape away the impressive presentation, and it's pretty shallow. Not a great hummer, pedestrian lyrics -- although it will certainly stick in your craw! It's great work, but it's not the best work in WandaVision.
#2. Episode 2, "Wan-da-Vision!" This is an excellent tune, and needed to be to get ranked this high… but the obvious standout here is the animation, which is as gorgeous today as it was when the shows it's riffing on premiered. In fact, more beautiful -- our animators are simply able to make this stuff look better than you could back then. Compare to the source material, and it's really incredible how good they made this look for a one-off.
#1. Episode 3, "We've Got Something Cooking." This is perfection. This era had a lot of terrible sitcoms with fantastic, stylish opening credits. This fits right in. It's pretty, it's smack-on for the era without being derivative, it establishes the setting and a surprising number of key characters… and, above all, it slaps. Tell me you aren't humming that for days. And how about that subtle harpsichord line? Really nice, subtle touch. Sent me straight back to my youth watching "Assignment: Earth" reruns.
BEST EASTER EGG: Episode 1, Vision walking through the chair that Dick Van Dyke used to trip over.
DISHONORABLE MENTION: Episode 8/9, No Title Sequence.
Absolute copout. I let it go when you did it for Episode 4 as a frame-breaking device, but, no, c'mon, this is the series finale. You force to me to watch that interminable, insufferable Marvel logo animation (it's a 30-second flex that, yes, you built a shared universe, we know, please tell me something about the show I'm actually watching), and you don't even have the guts to give me a title sequence after as a reward? And you expect me to see these episodes as the so-called "climax" of the series?
Lemme tell you, buckos: it didn't work for Gravity Falls (one of the great theme songs of the 2010s) when they (temporarily) switched to a 15-second title sequence to fit in more plot, and you don't even have the excuse of a 22-minute time slot.
You know what Gravity Falls DID do for its final episodes? Made a completely new and EXTREMELY WEIRD AND UNSETTLING opening credits to signify the world falling apart. YOUR OPENING CREDITS FRAME YOUR STORY. They're not optional! They're key to the medium! Not that I'd expect a franchise that uses orchestral scores as wallpaper to understand that.
Anyway, still a worthwhile program for at least 7 episodes. :) If this were one of my Should I Watch? features, I'd rule this a WATCH.