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Millions of people speak to God. What if God spoke back? Life just got a hell of a lot more confusing for teenage Joan Girardi, who already deals with feeling out of place in her family : her police chief father, her somewhat overbearing mother, her geeky younger brother and former football star older brother, now paralyzed. They'd never believe her if she told them that God is talking to her. Does Joan have a higher purpose on earth, or are these strange conversations just in her head?Written by
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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