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"Joan of Arcadia"
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Reviews & Ratings for
"Joan of Arcadia" More at IMDbPro »

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104 out of 116 people found the following review useful:

Shame on CBS

Author: dealingdreams from United States
17 June 2005

CBS recently canceled this truly original and uplifting show because it had lost viewers, and the age of the typical viewer (according to the lovely Neilsen ratings system) was over 50 years old. So what does CBS do? Say that a show about ghosts would "skew younger" than one about talking to God. Shame, shame, on you CBS. You promised that the show would be moved to another time slot before you canceled it, and you canceled it after making Barbara Hall introduce a new character that would hopefully bring in more viewers, while leaving the exit point for the show all the more sloppy and unresolved.

Some other network needs to pick this show up now. It's been nominated for an Emmy, which it also might be again this year, and won the People's Choice Awards. It's got an estimated eight million viewers, which is pretty good considering it was up against Dateline and in a time slot when people are out and about (early evenings on Fridays, also not a time when a lot of the teenagers are home, so that also explains why the average age of the viewers was so high). It's really sad that a show which makes you think, feel, cry and laugh at the same time can be thrown away so easily, while all the reality TV junk and crime dramas that are all-too-similar are thriving. This show was the finest ever to grace TV, and I highly recommend it to anyone that is sick of the few choices left to watch on television anymore.

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88 out of 104 people found the following review useful:

Best show on TV

Author: littlewriter50 from United States
11 December 2004

It was disheartening to see that the first review was the one negative review in the bunch. When I opened the rest a sigh of relief echoed my quiet office. I think "Joan of Arcadia" is hands down the best show on TV. It has excellent actors, great writing, and each episode is more entertaining or satisfying than the last. This show touches me every time I watch it. The vehicle used is entertaining, the characters are wonderfully written, and a profound message is sent out without ever preaching. Having just been through the most faith-rocking year of my life, the truths illuminated in this series have provided comfort, insight, and peace. With all the faithless programming available, this show is a breath of really fresh air!

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53 out of 61 people found the following review useful:

A godsend in an otherwise lackluster season...

Author: Terminal Madness ( from
14 February 2004

In a season filled with terrible reality shows and cookie cutter sitcoms, a small show from CBS made its way into the territory of classic television in the making. While I'll admit the show drew me with the charming previews and attractive main star; I was rather hesitant to watch this but stumbled upon a gem in television, one of the rare gems in television in a shallow and short attention span audience.

Joan is the middle child in a middle/low class family who begins getting messages from god through the various forms of people who come to her asking her to perform certain deeds.

While she's not always sure what god's intentions may be for her she always manages to perform the deed and learns something that affects her life.

Many religious themed shows have rarely ever been able to send out watchable storylines with the religious undertones without completely botching them. "Seventh Heaven" a recent hit show with religious themes fails in every aspect possible by preaching of love, family, etc. while coming off as cheesy, campy, and very sappy. While that show continues to run out of steam with its horrible storylines and characters, this one manages to push it to the side.

Somehow "Joan of Arcadia" is real and that is due to many winning aspects including the excellent cast of actors who give this show the kick it needs. The often under rated Joe Mantegna gives an excellent performance as the father and leader of the family who works as a police officer while being forced to confront his rapidly feigning power, Mary Steenburgen plays the mother who often rules the household in the father's absence with a soft voice but a hard fist, Jason Ritter son of the late John Ritter plays the paralyzed oldest brother who must confront his disability while adjusting to life as disabled, Michael Welch plays the brainy youngest child who must adjust to his families problems while living as an individual, and best of all Amber Tamblyn stars as the title character who is extremely likable and charming; Tamblyn is excellent as Joan who takes God's often vague directions in stride and a sarcastic and often witty one-liner.

It'd be easy to make the character of Joan whiny and self-absorbed but the excellent writers pull her character off well and make her a heroine for the female viewers and eye candy for the young male viewers.

The writing is what make this series a joy with its often gripping and heartbreaking storylines and refreshing wit; while the earlier episodes in the series were mired in sloppy continuity and lack of any true direction, it picked up thankfully and has managed to achieve its purpose with amazing plot twists and often heart breaking character development.

"Joan of Arcadia" preaches themes without becoming preachy and becomes natural in its story telling while the excellent actors get into character flawlessly. Each character is likable and each character is more realistic and involving than any bargain basement reality show, and by the numbers sitcom and manages to mark its territory into classic television.

What make this the quintessential drama is that despite its religious backdrop it never preaches to people and never tells people that one religion is true, it only shows a young distraught girl being led by god personally and comes of age.

This is surely a godsend.

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49 out of 56 people found the following review useful:

GREAT show!

Author: magicbeauty from Buckeye State!
12 November 2004

I stumbled upon Joan of Arcadia near the end of the first season and quickly found one thing out: This is a great show!

God speaks to Joan to have her try to make a DIFFERENCE in this world. The show is all about the choices we make in our lives that make a difference in the world around us. Through the choices Joan, her friends and her family make, we can learn something. Don't worry, it doesn't come off as all about religion, or all preachy. There is a great cast (especially Amber Tamblyn, Joe Mantegna and Mary Steenburgen), solid story lines and some really great music in between. I have been extremely impressed with Amber Tamblyn; she is perfect for this part.

Sometimes sad, very often funny, there is always something you can relate to. Give it a chance; you will enjoy it!

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47 out of 55 people found the following review useful:


Author: tamasin105 from Massachusetts
19 November 2004

This show is nothing like Touched by an Angel or anything insipid delivered on the Pax network. It is instead a deep reflection on how complicated it is to to be human. How do we find moments of consolation in those dark moments of desolation? How do we connect to ourselves and others?

It just so happens, Amber Tamblyn as title character Joan Girardi, (one of my personal favorites since her days as Emily Quartermaine on General Hospital) plays a cynical teenager who sees God. But God doesn't perform miracles. And he/she looks a little different every week. Joan is just trying to figure out who she is, like any of us she's digging around "in the trash trying to find something that matters." Joan's family is going through some real stress in Season 2 with the lawsuit against the oldest son Kevin who was left permanently paralyzed after a drunk driving accident...

Not being particularly religious, I feel incredibly drawn to the questions and issues this show raises every week.

Incisive writing, compelling acting. I can't remember what I was taping Friday nights.

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48 out of 58 people found the following review useful:

Modern day Joan of Arc(adia) is good food for the mind.

Author: TxMike from Houston, Tx, USA, Earth
12 December 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It should have been no surprise to me that Barbara Hall, responsible for 'Joan of Arcadia', also had a hand in writing and directing some of the episodes of that great TV series, and one of my all-time favorites, 'Northern Exposure.' The two series seemingly have nothing in common, but a closer look reveals a connection. Each focuses keenly on the human spirit, and how that spirit plays out when humans interact with each other. In the real world, seldom does one person's actions (or omissions) impact only that person. Instead, it has a type of 'butterfly effect', and the impacts are often far-reaching. In this TV series we have a unique character, God, who apparently interacts directly with Joan Girardi. I say 'apparently', because at the close of the 2003/2004 season, Joan was hospitalized, and even she believed afterwards that her conversations with God were just in her mind. I suspect the inspiration for the show's title, Joan of Arc, had the same kinds of doubts.

While the story lines generally use Joan as the human focus, the whole Girardi family have issues. Joe Mantegna is the dad, Will Girardi, now a detective and formerly the police chief. Mary Steenburgen plays his wife, Helen Girardi, who also has become a member of the high school faculty, teaching art. Amber Tamblyn is Joan Girardi, Jason Ritter (son of recently deceased John Ritter, descendant of Tex Ritter) is Kevin Girardi, in a wheel chair, scripted victim of an automobile accident before the series began, and Michael Welch is Luke Girardi, the geek brother. Out of the family, Chris Marquette is Adam Rove, art student and friend of Joan's, who recently has become her love interest.

Why do I like this show so much? Because it takes a totally different approach to family dynamics and high school life. I'm obviously not in high school anymore, haven't been for over 40 years, but I suspect that this show does it a bit more realistically than all those throw-away 'teen' movies. Plus it places God, a character we don't usually see in movies or TV shows in a realistic manner, right in the thick of things. When each episode is over, there always remains a few baskets of food for thought.

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38 out of 45 people found the following review useful:


Author: PopRox9139 from Toledo, Ohio
19 January 2004

After Buffy the Vampire Slayer was canceled, I was also on the outs with every other show I had previously watched, and had almost nothing left. There was a great big void in my TV watching schedule, and it was filled with this show. If I had only heard the description for Joan of Arcadia, I know that I would never have watched it. Let's face it, the premise alone sounds pretty lame. Fortunately, I saw a commercial for the show one day while flipping through the channels, but was still skeptical. The commercial was on again and again, incessantly telling me to watch this show, and finally I decided to give in and watch the show, even though I probably wouldn't like it. The pilot episode was good, and the episodes that followed were good as well. The Girardis are a realistic portrayal of a family, not too perfect yet not overly exaggerated either. The kids are funny and intelligent, from the snippy Joan to the dorky Luke to the sarcastic Kevin, and the parents actually seem to love each other and their kids. Joan's friends, Grace and Adam, are another highlight. Grace is great as the rebellious girl without a cause and I liked her instantly, even though I did think she was a boy. Adam, on the other hand, took me a little more time. I recognized him from when he huffed paint on 7th Heaven, which did not exactly endear me to him. By the end of the very first episode he was in, however, I fell in love with his character. What is unique about this show is that the main character talks to God, who appears in various forms and assigns Joan tasks. The tasks always have unexpected results, and there is always a message in what Joan has to do, a message that is thankfully not beat into the audience with a sledgehammer, but is subtle and genuine. This is a moving show that deals with human experience quite well. Without a doubt this is the best new show this year.

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32 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

can't get enough of this show.

Author: emily37 from brooklyn
20 February 2004

first off: yay CBS for actually making a good show!! I mean, what, are we in our 10th season of JAG?

this show reminds me of My So-Called Life. and that's nothing to sneeze at. it's certainly not _as_ good, but it has the same feel with its realistic characters (and not just the main characters, but the supporting ones, too). it seems like kids who are teenagers now would relate to this show like kids of my generation related to MSCL in the 90s. I think the writers need to make the parents a little more accessible, but the way they show the many facets of the younger characters, especially Joan and her brothers, is really impressive.

the x-factor: Joan hangs out with God. I'm not a religious person, and if there are supposed to be religious overtones in this show, I'm not feeling them. It's almost like God is the trusty alien sidekick or something like that. It's cool, because even though I personally don't believe in God, I certainly have friends who do, and who knows? They might talk to God, too. It's nice that a TV show can address religion, which is such a part of so many people's lives, in a non-preachy way.

the show, however, isn't about religion. it's about a middle-class white suburban family and their personal struggles. I feel like the show could go up or down from here. there have been some really unique and interesting story lines (Joan's tame relationship with the "stoner"/artist Adam, the questioning of Grace's sexuality, the art-teacher mother's rediscovering of the art she created after being raped) and even the story lines that seem more boring and uninspired seem to be coming around (the condescending-macho chief of police dad being demoted, the wheelchair-bound former-star-athlete older brother regaining his confidence and returning to "player" status, despite his disabilities)

I think the show's sometimes-slow pace is a testament to how long it might last. I hope it stays around for a while, at least, even if I do have to keep staying in for a while on Friday nights :)

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29 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Excellent, high quality program

Author: AllisonLVenezio from Jersey shore, USA
10 November 2003

Television itself is a barren wasteland of programming upon the ushering in of each new fall season. So many choices, each one with less and less quality to them. Hence, there is one show that pushed past this.

"Joan of Arcadia" is about 16-year old Joan Girardi (20-year old Amber Tamblyn), who is visited by beautiful stranger who calls himself "God." He tells her that because he let her wheelchair-bound brother Kevin (hottie Jason Ritter) survive a car crash that paralyzed him, Joan has to listen to him. Each week, he has her do something new (hold a yard sale, get a job, try out for cheerleading, take AP Chem). It's a weird world out there, and Joan's just got a little weirder.

I remember CBS rolling out the commercials for this program in July, and I was fascinated immediately. I knew I was compelled to watch this show, since I wanted to try to get into shows geared toward my age brackett (the elusive 18-25 group--I'm 21). Joan herself is completely relatable to myself (I wrote an essay on her for a college course 1 1/2 months ago--I got an A). I see that sarcastic personality in her that I had in high school. She's just trying to survive there--that's what I did.

My favorite episode was when Joan was told by God to try out for cheerleading. That cheer at the end was priceless. I was laughing and clapping. Jason Ritter (the son of late legendary John Ritter) is great as Kevin. I really think he's hot, and he reminds me so much of his dad. Thankfully, Jason will carry on the name. As Joan's parents, Joe Montenga and Mary Steenburgen are wonderful--they're like everyone's parents, and aren't most just slightly neurotic??? Absolutely. Michael Welch, as Luke Girardi, reminds me of a young Anthony Michael Hall that I came to know in the Brat Pack movies I fell in love with in the late '90s when I was a love-struck teenager in high school. I know, it wasn't THAT long ago, but still...

All in all, this is quality programming. If CBS knows what they're doing (and what's good for them) they'll keep this show on the air. This is good for whether you're religious or non-religious (I'm non-religious). I'm so glad a program this high-caliber came along. People need shows with a little faith. This is the one!

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22 out of 29 people found the following review useful:


Author: jwrowe3 from Tampa, FL
20 October 2003

I discovered this show, just this last week. My 9 year old daughter had watched once or twice before and seemed to really enjoy it. I make it a point to watch what my children watch, to see if it's acceptable viewing. Surprise! Great Show!

Without going over all the obvious details, I'll say this: Take the time for "Family Viewing" and have a look at this charming CBS Friday night show.

9 out of 10 on my scale.

2005 UPDATE....

Yup, the goons at CBS have pulled the plug. What a shame. Quality DOES equal probable cancellation, I guess.....

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