ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Joan of Arcadia Season 1

Updated on June 12, 2010

"Joan of Arcadia" was one of those shows that wasn't really able to find enough of an audience to really spread to its full potential. I don't think I myself ever saw an episode when it was on TV--although I do remember the idea behind the show intriguing me. But, through the wonders of the internet, I have rediscovered it, and watched its first season.

The story concerns the Girardi family--father Will (Joe Mategna), who's just been hired as chief of police to the small town of Arcadia; mother Helen (Mary Steenburgen), who works as a receptionist/office aid at the local high school, eldest son Kevin (Jason Ritter), who was an accomplished athlete before being confined to a wheelchair after a car accident; youngest son Luke (Micheal Welch), a socially awkward scientific genius; and middle child Joan (Amber Tamblyn), our main character.

This is because, in the first episode, Joan is approached by a handsome young man who claims to be God and knows an awful lot about her. When all sorts of random people start appearing, all claiming to be God, and all giving her missions to accomplish, Joan eventually is reluctantly convinced, especially since good things usually result.

The portrayal of God is interesting in this show. As mentioned before, God has a tendency to manifest into the most random forms ever: a little girl, a goth kid, Mrs. Landingham from "The West Wing," the school mascot, all sorts of repairmen, etc. Despite being played by many different actors in many different roles, the writers of the show manage to keep a basic consisten personality to God: in pretty much all forms God is very nice and is never directly forceful in getting Joan to do his missions, but also incredibly insistent that Joan follow his instructions while simultaneously refusing to explain the logic behind them. As many of these missions revolve around Joan doing something that is either embarrassing or makes the people around her think she is insane, she often demands an explanation as to why she has to do them, but she hardly ever gets any sort of clarification. When we see the results of these missions (which more often than not turn out to be complicated gambits where Joan resisting the mission becomes a critical part of completing it, or the initial objective is a diversion from a more important goal), it helps undermine the omnipotence of the character.

Joan herself is really good as a protagonist, basically because Tamblyn is really good at playing a teenage girl and seeming believable. Joan is a kind and giving soul, but is no more selfless or competent than the next 16 year old who gets annoyed at her parents or just wants to hang out with her friends. She also proves to be quite adaptable, which is good given some of the ridiculous situations her God-given objectives get her into.

the rest of the Girardi family work relatively well, with only a few problems. Most of these revolve around the youngest child, Luke, who sometimes is written like Spock from the original "Star Trek," i.e. way too sciency for a 15 year old boy. Even real science nerds don't talk like that! Aside from that he works well, and Welch works hard to make him seem genuinely intelligent, not just a kid with glasses spouting off sciency sounding stuff. I also liked how he's none to happy to be the ignored sibling in the family, when compared especially to his former jock older brother. Speaking of Kevin, although I'm sure his depiction of a character who is mired in depression and anger is true to life, it doesn't make for particularly fun TV to watch. When he finally starts getting motivated is when he as a character starts to get interesting. Will is great as a character, but the problem with him is that pretty much all of his scenes not with members of his own family seem like they're in their own show, down to being tinted blue to make them distinct. It's like the creators wanted to do a cop show but couldn't, so they decided to squeeze their ideas into this show. It's very odd. Finally, Steenburgen is utterly believable as a mother of teenage children, trying to let go and yet finding difficulties with their new paths in life. And as a unit the Girardis work, really seeming like an actual family.

The three other main characters that should be mentioned are Joan's friends and lab partners Grace (Backy Wahlstrom) and Adam (Chris Marquette), and Vice Principal Price (Patrick Fabian). Grace is perhaps my favorite character on the show, a snarky nonconformist who takes no crap yet is nicer and softer as a person than she's probably care to admit. I liked pretty much every scene with her in it. Adam is also good, a somewhat slackery young artist who has great chemistry in three very different relationships with Grace, Joan, and Helen. My only problem is that he sometimes turns into this genius (mostly about art stuff), which is contrary to his more common character of a bit of a cloudcuckoolander who doesn't pay much attention to the world around him.  Price is delicious as a total jerkass who talks smooth while crushing the hopes and dreams of the students around him. It is very easy to love to hate him.

All in all, season one of "Joan of Arcadia" went well. It introduced us to some good characters, all of who get some form of character development over the course of the series, and to some interesting plots. Most of the plots worked, aside from a few that are a bit too aesop-y or seemed to have had something cut out of them, making them feel a tad unfinished. This also excludes the very last episode, which, while not bad, cranks the weirdness dial up a few notches with no warning. But aside from a few less than perfect episodes, I look forward to the second season with bated breath. 

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Auntie Em 

      8 years ago

      Hi Dave,

      I liked this one enough to go check it out! I'll let you know.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)