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How WandaVision Almost Dropped The Sitcom Format For A CSI-Inspired Episode

Marvel's WandaVision

The end of Marvel’s WandaVision is now a bleak reality to fans, as there won’t be any new episodes dropping on Disney+ anymore. Even so, we can take comfort in the fact that the wacky series that consistently created mass confusion for audiences has now been pretty neatly wrapped up, with a lot of the initial puzzles solved. Though the sitcom vibe stayed mostly intact, one of WandaVision showrunner Jac Schaeffer's original TV tribute ideas was pretty different from what made it into our screens, with the comedic vibe almost being dropped in favor of an episode inspired by CBS' former hit crime drama CSI.

If WandaVision wasn’t confusing enough for viewers, the idea of watching the Dick Van Dyke Show and Modern Family aesthetic give way to a police procedural seems a bit shellshocking. Creator Jac Schaeffer told The New York Times that in the early going, she almost broke up the sitcom format and switched things up for something more dramatic and CSI-esque. Here's how Schaeffer put it:

In my pitch, the ‘rewind’ episode was a C.S.I. episode. I thought, how interesting to do sitcom, sitcom, sitcom, and then shatter that and be in a different genre. But once we got in the writers’ room, we stayed with family sitcoms and sitcoms that were on the brighter, optimistic side of the spectrum because it is a fantasy.

It sounds like the idea was shot down once the writers really cemented the concept of utilizing cheery sitcoms, without wanting fans to slip into a Wanda-like delirium from such a tonal shift. Or, as Schaeffer put it, they just wanted Wanda’s fantasy to be more optimistic, considering how tragic everything else was in her life.

As cool as it would have been for Wanda to shoot off a couple of classy one-liners while sliding on some sunglasses (even though it’s night) as The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” played in the background, we should probably thank the writers for saving us from that abrupt change. It’s hard to really imagine the show shifting away from its sitcom tributes, and if the CSI episode did happen, it would be tough to fit that into the flashback to Wanda's childhood that explained the TV format.

Wanda viewed American sitcoms as an escape from the horrors of her surroundings, having enjoyed watching older sitcoms for TV Night with her family, which are probably some of her most dear memories, while just about everything after that, from her Hydra experiments to Pietro's death, was horrible in comparison. So rather than putting those already devastating flashbacks through a dark and gritty Crime Scene Investigation prism, Episode 8 sidestepped the “more aspirational family sitcom” angle and just let Kathryn Hahn's sardonic Agatha Harkness guide Wanda along.

As far as unused concepts go from the sitcom side of things, Jac Schaeffer also shared that they nearly built one episode around another classic and highly inspirational 1970s sitcom, though it got phased out for not being a family-focused show.

Things like All in the Family and Roseanne got shunted to the side. I had an episode that was The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and it was about Wanda’s work-life balance. Those are spectacular shows and say so much about our culture and ourselves. But we stayed in the zone of aspirational family sitcoms and that helped us find the focus of the show.

I honestly could have watched an unending spiral of WandaVision taking on the format of every sitcom out there, but like all good things, the Marvel show of course had to come to an end, and the writers had to be strategic about which TV projects they chose to imitate. While it certainly felt like I was in an episode of CSI myself when watching WandaVision and trying to figure out what the heck was happening, I’m certainly glad the series stuck with its sitcom angle. Even though WandaVision has wrapped up, we’ve got a lot to look forward to from Marvel’s Phase 4 films and new series. (As well as CBS' in-development CSI revival, which probably won't feature a WandaVision-inspired episode.)