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Primetime Show Reviews

"Joan of Arcadia" Review by Staci 7/29/03

Joan of Arcadia picture from http://www.hollywoodjesus.com/joan_of_arcadia.htmWhen I was in high school I actually donned armor made out of cardboard to play Joan of Arc for a history assignment. Thankfully, Amber Tamblyn doesn't have to wear such gear. Tamblyn (ex-Emily, General Hospital) stars in the title role of Joan in "Joan of Arcadia" on CBS this fall. She is the daughter of police chief Will Girardi (played by Joe Mantegna) and wife Helen (Mary Steenburgen). Older brother Kevin (Jason Ritter) is a former high school sports star who is now in a wheelchair following a car accident, while 15-year-old brother, Luke (Michael Welch), doesn't ever seem to want to move away from the computer screen.

I watched the pilot, along with other CBS pilots, during a "Pilot Night" organized at my lovely apartment and including several friends. We all agreed this was the best of the CBS bunch, although the clip montage of David E. Kelley's new project, "The Brother of Poland, N.H." looked pretty good.

The show's premise revolves around Joan, an average teenager, who suddenly starts to meet God in the guise of everyday people. First, he's the cute teenage boy on the school bus. Next, he's the lunch lady asking Joan why she didn't get the job at the music store like he asked. The constant switch nearly lands Joan in trouble when she's almost kidnapped by a murderer she mistakes as God's latest incarnation. It'll be interesting to see who else God becomes over the course of the show and what his plan is for Joan. Right now he seems intent on Joan helping her father solve crimes, the most recent of which is an unknown murderer who's claimed at least two lives.

It will also be interesting to see how Joan's family dynamics play out. The pilot episode makes it obvious that Mom is stressed out, both by her crippled son's refusal to get a job and her perceived notion that her family ignores her.

The casting of this show is right on the money with Mantegna and Steenburgen as Joan's parents. Both have numerous credits to their names, as well as awards, including a Tony for Mantegna and an Academy Award for Steenburgen. Those who pay close attention to the opening credits will note Jason Ritter's name. He is the son of John Ritter of "Three's Company" fame and star of ABC's "Ten Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter."

The only downside I see to this show is its timeslot, Fridays at 8 p.m. Who knows, maybe God's watching.I know I will.


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