A few minutes into the goofy sitcom homage of Marvel’s WandaVision and suddenly … it’s Sy Ableman! The always-mellifluous Fred Melamed wanders into the show to play Vision’s boss at his nonsensical, 1950s-sitcom-husband job of “number-crunching.” Vision had promised to have Fred and his wife over for dinner, but in some Dick Van Dyke Show–style shenanigans, he and Wanda have forgotten about the event. Vision assumes Wanda is going to prepare a nice dinner for his serious boss. Wanda, thanks in part to her meddling neighbor Kathryn Hahn, assumes she and Vision are celebrating an anniversary, turns off the lights, and gets into a nightgown. Fred and his wife (the great Debra Jo Rupp) show up, and the chaos spins out from there.
What makes the episode, and indeed the best parts of WandaVision, work is that it really commits to the sitcom premise. Vision and Wanda run around trying to pretend to be a normal human couple while she tries to put together a complicated meal with magic in the kitchen and he tries to suck up to his boss in the living room. The episode was filmed in front of a live audience, and everyone’s performances play right to them. Especially Rupp and Melamed. Especially Melamed’s patented grumble, while he complains about Wanda’s strange “European” customs and mutters about the Bolsheviks. Sitcoms are where actors can get really grandiose and fun, and while it’s exciting to watch Olsen and Bettany try their hands at new genres, it’s really the pros like Rupp and Melamed that serve up the ham this dinner needs.
Sadly, neither Rupp nor Melamed appear in the next two episodes of WandaVision sent out to journalists in advance, though Buffy’s Emma Caulfield does pop up in episode 2 as a tightly-wound queen bee for which we can be thankful. Still, the resounding success of that first episode especially gives me a chance to advance my thesis that every show should, in fact, employ Fred Melamed for one or more episodes in order to spice things up a bit and lend an air of both gravitas and fun. Here are some proposed situations in which Fred Melamed could be used.
Fred Melamed provides the voice of hope, a thing with feathers (would require some sort of Big Bird suit).
Fred Melamed plays a powerful local baron who rules some planet and has Mando and Baby Yoda over for dinner before sending them on a task. Hijinks ensue when Baby Yoda doesn’t know which fork to use.
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series
Fred Melamed is a substitute teacher who loudly announces, “I do not understand your silly teen love triangle.”
Fred Melamed and Brian Cox shout insults at each other, hitting increasingly low notes over the course of an unbroken 15-minute shot.
Emily in Paris
“But Emily!” Fred Melamed will shout resonantly over video chat with Emily (of Paris). “You have to come back from Paris!” I’m not sure what else his character should be, but I feel strongly that he could deliver that line well.
Fred Melamed provides the voice of Lord Whistledown, a rival gossip rag that one of the young brunette Bridgertons you can’t tell apart is writing.
And Just Like That … (the name of the Sex and the City revival)
Fred Melamed voices the fourth main character who replaces Samantha … the city of New York.
Fred Melamed plays a connoisseur of classic music who wanders into the record shop and complains to Zoë Kravitz about her limited selection of Haydn on vinyl. This would have the benefit of un-canceling High Fidelity, a very good show that should have lasted longer.
If you have any other suggestions for guest appearances by Fred Melamed in American television programs, please let us know. Specifically on Twitter. Get #ShowUsMelamed trending. There is nothing more important to discuss online right now.