Friday, December 19, 2008

DVD/Joan of Arcadia

What if God was one of us? asks the 1995 song sung by Joan Osborne . She goes on:

If God had a face, what would it look like?
And would you want to see
If seeing meant that you would have to believe

In things like heaven and in Jesus and the saints
And all the prophets and...

These are big questions. And unanswerable unless perhaps we do see the face or hear the voice, as Joan Girardi does in Joan of Arcadia. She is a teenager whose family has moved to Arcadia, Maryland where her father is the new chief of police. Her older brother's legs are paralyzed from a car accident, and her younger brother is a science genius. She's a girl with adjustments to make; to a new school and to a family changed forever by the accident. She doesn't shine in any particular area - she's an average girl in every way. Except one: she sees God, in the guise of many people; sometimes a boy of Joan's own age, sometimes a little girl, sometimes an older woman. They are walking amongst the people in Joan's world. They are students and repairmen and cupcake sellers. Sometimes we the viewers expect them, and other times we are as surprised as Joan.

However God appears, there is a message and a mission. Get a job, pass a test with an A, ask a troubled boy to a dance. She doesn't understand but she does her very best to do what is asked of her. As an episode goes on, we see the why. In one of the most riveting shows we've seen so far, there isn't a great outcome - rather what she accomplishes is the lesser of two evils. God explains what would have happened had Joan not acted as she did.

This is a deep show. It makes us think and talk about what we've seen. The writing is superb. The show is not unrelated episodes; something that happened a while back may not be solved until much later. People from past shows come back in others. The characters seem real to us. Joan's family really tries in the face of problems. We see that love and caring make a difference in the world even when bad things happen.

Tom and I love this show. We'd never heard of it, but a while ago I read about some song that was played on Joan of Arcadia. I wondered what it was, looked it up on Netflix, tried one disc, and off we went on a great television adventure. As with too many really good tv shows, it was canceled after two seasons, but we still have a ways to go, and this thought provoking program will stay with us for a long time.


  1. We loved that show, and watched it faithfully when it was on. One thing I liked was that our teens liked to watch us with it. It seemed pretty realistic to them, without being preachy at all.

  2. Thanks for this recommendation, Nan. This does indeed sound like a series worth watching. I'll add it to my queue right now.

  3. You're right, Joyce, not preachy at all. And I love some of the "Gods." :<) I love how they have jobs and get on with them after talking to Joan.
    Patrice, I do love this show. I'll be interested to hear what you think about it.

  4. name is Peggy and I found your blog on Kays blog, Musings.
    Beautiful picture...oh my gosh!
    I am starting to take some pictures...not very good yet but hopefully Santa will bring me a surprise and i'll get better!
    I used to also watch Joan of Arcadia...

  5. Peggy, thank you for coming by. I do have a good camera, but honestly my 'good' pictures are pure luck. I don't know any of the controls on the camera, and I take a lot of photos to get one good one, and often none. You should see all the ones I delete! I've just been over to your blog, and will be back. You're coping with so much right now. I remember Kay mentioning you recently.

  6. We were fans of the show when it was on -- and really disappointed when it was canceled. It seemed like it was approaching a really interesting place at the time...

  7. sprite, lots of good shows don't last long enough or don't come out on dvd. I'm still waiting for thirtysomething. :<) They only offered the first season of American Dreams and Everwood, two other shows I loved.

  8. My daughters and I watched every episode of this during its first run. We were very disappointed when it was cancelled - without resolving some of storylines, I might add.

  9. I read about this show awhile ago and wanted to see it - and forgot. Thanks for the review. I dropped Netflix awhile back and have been making due with what I can get from the library. Maybe I'll have to sign up again (or persuade the Librarian that this series should be added to their collection).

  10. I had almost forgotten that show! Always interesting...very unusual for television. I was taken with a show called Six Degrees last year, but it didn't last very long and probably will never be on video. Interrelated characters and plots, people that didn't know each other but their lives overlapped. Plus, it featured Campbell Scott, one of my favorite actors.

  11. This sounds very interesting. Thanks for the tip.

  12. Aisling, maybe that's okay - maybe this is a situation that can't be resolved. It makes me wonder if there are people out there who've had this happen to them, and of course they don't tell anyone, just as Joan doesn't. (or hasn't as far as I've gotten)
    KSV, Netflix is our main source of entertainment other than reading. I couldn't live without it. :<)
    Mary Lois, thanks for the tip. I put it in my queue at Netflix. It is a 'save' right now, meaning they don't know when it will be available, but at least the title came up! I saw Hope Davis is in it, whom I like.
    Kay, it really is a good show.

  13. I loved that show and was sad when it was cancelled.... the song it great, I had it as a theme song one day and was surprised by how many folks didn't know of it....

    nice to hear that the show is out on dvd's although I probably caught most of the episodes when they aired, they are worthy of watching again....

    a very different 'take' on the same theme is tnt's show saving grace....I wasn't as religious (pun intended) about watching that as joan, but liked all the episodes I saw...I took enjoyed that six degree show that one of the other commenters mentioned.

  14. I can count on one hand the number of times I watch TV in a month. I haven't followed a show since "China Beach" and a few years later, "Homefront", both sadly, unavailable on DVD (someone please prove me wrong!). Then "Joan of Arcadia" was aired and I just happened upon it while on the treadmill. I became a faithful viewer and was glad when it won several awards. Two of my kids were in high school at the time and thought it was fairly realistic. Some shows were better than others but I really enjoyed it and wish it were still on.

  15. Kimy, I always thought the song would be good sermon material. I wonder if any ministers ever based one on it. I'll look into Saving Grace. Of course when I read the title, I first thought of the Brenda Blethyn movie, Saving Grace. :<)
    Joanie, that's what we love about Netflix - shows we never got to see or never heard of, we've watched on dvd. No ads, one disc right after the other if we want. We've seen some great, great television this way. I checked at Netflix and China Beach is a 'save' which means they don't know when it will be released. :<( No mention at all of Homefront.


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