Joan of Arcadia : Season 1

  • Network: CBS
  • Series Premiere Date: Sep 26, 2003
Season #: 1, 2
Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34

Critic Reviews

  1. Philadelphia Inquirer
    Reviewed by: Jonathan Storm
    Jun 21, 2013
    100
    The best that the new season has to offer, an elegantly written, splendidly acted, spiritual and moving family drama. [25 Sept 2003, p.D01]
  2. San Francisco Chronicle
    Reviewed by: Tim Goodman
    Jun 21, 2013
    100
    This is a series that was completely unexpected, and Hall has hard-and-fast rules about what Joan and God can do. She's not making up the story arcs on the fly, which gives confidence that this unusual creation is in good hands. [25 Sept 2003, p.E1]
  3. Miami Herald
    Reviewed by: Glenn Garvin
    Jun 21, 2013
    100
    An intelligent and supremely entertaining meditation on the nature of faith...Neither Touched by an Angel nor Bruce Almighty, Joan of Arcadia manages to be wry, spellbinding and theologically challenging all at once. [26 Sept 2003, p.6E]
  4. St. Louis Post-Dispatch
    Reviewed by: Gail Pennington
    Jun 21, 2013
    100
    Joan of Arcadia is smart, entertaining and never heavy-handed, one of the season's best. [26 Sept 2003, p.E8]
  5. Cleveland Plain Dealer
    Reviewed by: Mark Dawidziak
    Jun 20, 2013
    100
    Amber Tamblyn (yes, she's the daughter of "Twin Peaks" star Russ Tamblyn) shines in the title role. Her Joan is a delightful adolescent mix of hope, doubt, joy, anger, anxiety, yearning and skepticism...Viewers searching for a promising new drama will do no better this season than Joan of Arcadia, which walks that tricky line of being spiritual without becoming preachy, touching without turning treacly, humorous without going for the cheap jokes. [26 Sept 2003, p.E1]
  6. Orlando Sentinel
    Reviewed by: Hal Boedeker
    Jun 20, 2013
    100
    In Joan of Arcadia, the inspiration creeps up on you, the plot pieces fall effortlessly into place. This miraculous drama is the one new show not to miss. [26 Sept 2003, p.E1]
  7. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    Reviewed by: Rob Owen
    Jun 20, 2013
    100
    If you like family dramas ...If you like cop shows ...If you like fantasy series ...If you like quality programs with complex characters, intelligent dialogue and a unique point of view, then you need to get acquainted with Joan of Arcadia, the best new broadcast series of the season. [26 Sept 2003, p.41]
  8. Seattle Post-Intelligencer
    Reviewed by: Melanie McFarland
    Jun 21, 2013
    90
    I know it doesn't sound too cool, but really, it's great - not at all obvious like "Touched by an Angel," and far more intelligent... Everyone in this cast is nothing short of brilliant, but Tamblyn's really the one that glows. She's believably snarky in her secret interactions with what may or may not be God; she's well aware she could be crazy. [26 Sept 2003, p.E1]
  9. Kansas City Star
    Reviewed by: Aaron Barnhart
    Jun 20, 2013
    90
    The most promising new network show of the year...One part family drama, one part crime drama, one part internal metaphysical whatever, Joan of Arcadia draws us immediately into its slightly off-kilter universe. [26 Sept 2003]
  10. Arizona Republic
    Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jun 20, 2013
    90
    Joan of Arcadia is one of the fall season's finest new dramas. It's a show whose charms defy easy description, even after you've seen a couple of episodes -- which is a plus. The story, as well as Amber Tamblyn's portrayal of Joan, is so compelling you'll be hooked. [26 Sept 2003, p.1E]
  11. USA Today
    Reviewed by: Robert Bianco
    Jun 21, 2013
    88
    The thought and care Hall has put into her premise carries over to the casting. Every choice is near ideal, starting with the remarkable Amber Tamblyn, who is so fabulously right as Joan, and including Joe Mantegna and Mary Steenburgen as her parents and Michael Welch and Jason Ritter (son of the late John Ritter) as her brothers. [26 Sept 2003, p.1E]
  12. Houston Chronicle
    Reviewed by: Mike McDaniel
    Jun 20, 2013
    83
    If handled as carefully as the pilot, Joan of Arcadia promises to be the most intriguing show of the season. [26 Sept 2003, p.1]
  13. Dallas Morning News
    Reviewed by: Manuel Mendoza
    Jun 20, 2013
    83
    Beneath the humor, Joan is a dark, daring drama with the guts to explore what God might be thinking. [26 Sept 2003, p.1E]
  14. Newark Star-Ledger
    Reviewed by: Alan Sepinwall
    Jun 21, 2013
    80
    The only real sin of "Joan" so far is the presence of Joe Mantegna as Joan's police chief father. Mantegna, as always, is great, but his presence in what should be a small role apparently freaked out someone at CBS. So Hall tries to give him more to do by devoting a good chunk of each episode to unrelated crime stories - very mediocre ones, at that. [26 Sept 2003, p.57]
  15. Reviewed by: Alessandra Stanley
    Jun 20, 2013
    80
    It is an odd and intriguing look at crime scenes, forensic labs and interrogation rooms as a backdrop to the family crises and growing pains of an unhappy teenage girl.
  16. Los Angeles Times
    Reviewed by: Robert Lloyd
    Jun 20, 2013
    80
    The real miracle here is how deftly the show avoids the soggy cliches of redemption so many of its forerunners have embraced. [26 Sept 2003, p.E1]
  17. The Hollywood Reporter
    Reviewed by: Staff [Not Credited]
    Jun 20, 2013
    80
    Exec producer James Hayman understands the importance of understatement, portraying God with a light touch but a solemn purpose. Equally important, he smoothly shifts the story's tone, going from dark and menacing to wryly skeptical, as the story dictates. [26 Sept 2003]
  18. Deseret News
    Reviewed by: Scott D. Pierce
    Jun 20, 2013
    80
    Certainly one of the more intriguing new shows of the year. [26 Sept 2003, p.C08]
  19. Baltimore Sun
    Reviewed by: David Zurawik
    Jun 20, 2013
    80
    But Joan of Arcadia has one other thing none of these had - a hard edge and a savvy sense of humor that keeps the drama from ever feeling saccharine or sappy. [26 Sept 2003, p.1E]
  20. Chicago Tribune
    Reviewed by: Steve Johnson
    Jun 20, 2013
    80
    It's all brought home with realism in the family relations and humor. [26 Sept 2003, p.C1]
  21. Reviewed by: Terry Kelleher
    Jun 28, 2013
    75
    Joe Mantegna and Mary Steenburgen are fine as Joan's parents, but the series shouldn't go out of its way to play up the dad's role as small-city police chief. Keep the emphasis on God's plan, not man's law.
  22. New York Post
    Reviewed by: Adam Buckman
    Jun 20, 2013
    75
    God only knows where they're going with this. The producers have made Joan's father the police chief of the small city of Arcadia, but I'm praying that CBS won't turn the Almighty into some sort of cosmic crime fighter...Whatever happens, I'm inclined to give Joan of Arcadia the benefit of the doubt. [26 Sept 2003, p.122]
  23. Detroit Free Press
    Reviewed by: Mike Duffy
    Jun 20, 2013
    75
    It's a fascinating, leap of faith start. [26 Sept 2003, p.8E]
  24. Chicago Sun-Times
    Reviewed by: Phil Rosenthal
    Jun 20, 2013
    75
    A success in that it exceeds expectations. It sets up the challenging premise that God -- in the personage of a hunky classmate, a cafeteria worker or who knows what -- might ask us to do things for reasons we can't immediately comprehend, and successfully straddles the razor-thin line between sacrilege and sacred. [26 Sept 2003, p.53]
  25. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    Jul 1, 2013
    70
    [Joan is] the most extraordinarily average teen to crop up on a TV show in years--yet after a few episodes, you realize you would watch her story even if God stopped showing up.
  26. Newsday
    Reviewed by: Noel Holston
    Jun 20, 2013
    70
    A sentimental new series whose flaws are fairly easy to forgive. [26 Sept 2003, p.B03]
  27. New York Daily News
    Reviewed by: David Bianculli
    Jun 20, 2013
    70
    The gimmick sounds dreadful. The series is anything but. It's actually one of the best and smartest new series of the season, and could survive just fine, on its acting and characters, even if the divine-intervention plot were removed. [26 Sept 2003, p.126]
  28. Boston Globe
    Reviewed by: Matthew Gilbert
    Jun 20, 2013
    70
    The show's setup has some charm, especially since Joan's reactions are anything but beatific. [26 Sept 2003, p.D4]
  29. Reviewed by: Ken Tucker
    Jun 17, 2013
    58
    [A] mechanically contrived show ... [but] it sure can be cozy, and cozy tends to get better ratings than clever.
  30. Newsweek
    Reviewed by: Devin Gordon
    Jun 21, 2013
    50
    Dialing back the cop stuff, or cutting it out entirely, would make Joan of Arcadia more cohesive and more fun. But it wouldn't help the fact that it's on the wrong network. [22 Sept 2003, p.85]
  31. Variety
    Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Jun 21, 2013
    50
    A mixed bag both creatively and conceptually. [24 Sept 2003, p.2]
  32. The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
    Reviewed by:  John Doyle
    Jun 20, 2013
    50
    It's a strange blend of piety and precious family drama. [26 Sept 2003, p.R2]
  33. Washington Post
    Reviewed by: Tom Shales
    Jun 21, 2013
    40
    Joan of Arcadia may mean well, and it showcases a charming new star, but the premiere suggests viewers are being asked to wade heart-deep into a drearily portentous muddle. [26 Sept 2003, p.C01]
  34. San Diego Union-Tribune
    Reviewed by: Preston Turegano
    Jun 21, 2013
    40
    In its premiere, Joan of Arcadia comes off fragmented and aimless. [26 Sept 2003, p.E-11]
User Score
tbd

No user score yet- Awaiting 1 more rating

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Feb 23, 2013
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Joan of Arcadia is an amazing show that didn't make it, because of bad marketing, and a bad time-slot. Think about this show, what do you know about it? A high school girl sees God and speaks to him, in his many different forms. That's it right? That's because that's how CBS choose to advertise this show, but it's so much more! Joan's father, Will (Joe Mantenga), is the Arcadia Chief of Police and there were many episode and background stories involving, crime, corruption, and the police. Her brother, Kevin (Jason Ritter), was in a horrible accident and is dealing with being paralyzed. That's just two of the many things about this show that you didn't know about. There are probably about ten other things I could mention, that could, alone, be the basis for a good TV show or film. Amber Tamblyn is amazing as Joan Girardi. Normally when you hear teen drama and young unknown cast, you expect the acting to be sub-par, but Tamblyn is exactly the opposite. She makes the show and gives energy and meaning to the other actors working with her. Take Chris Marquette, who plays her boyfriend, Adam Rove. I've seen him in many things and didn't like him. Working with Tamblyn makes all the difference for him here. He grows from a guest star into one of the most engaging and mysterious characters in the show! I cannot stress to you how good this show is and how it's so much more than what was advertised. There are so many stories and side angles, twists and turns, and while not a minor thing, Joan talking to God is not the focus of the show, many times it's just a scene or two, defiantly not the basis for the show. This show is the story of the Giardi family moving to a new location, following Kevin's accident, and dealing with all the struggles that come along with it and adolescents. It shows how there are still good people in this world, that not every teenager drinks, and while it sounds corny, watching it has actually cheered me up during some rough times I've had recently. It really is a great show and I can't possibly recommend it enough! Full Review »