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  • Series Premiere Date: Sep 26, 2003
Season #: 1, 2
Joan of Arcadia Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics What's this?

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Joan of Arcadia is a drama that follows a typical family facing atypical situations, not the least of which is their teenage daughter's conversations with God. A tough but soft-hearted police detective in Arcadia, Will Girardi (Joe Mantegna) dreams of providing a safe haven for his familyJoan of Arcadia is a drama that follows a typical family facing atypical situations, not the least of which is their teenage daughter's conversations with God. A tough but soft-hearted police detective in Arcadia, Will Girardi (Joe Mantegna) dreams of providing a safe haven for his family and community. An outbreak of serious crime in his idyllic new town has challenged Girardi's desire for order, as have the ups and downs he faces with his family. Daughter Joan (Amber Tamblyn), an average teenager, has been acting a little strange. Most don't know that it has to do with the unusual way various people keep popping up, introducing themselves as God and then giving her specific directions to do things, such as get a job, join the debate team or volunteer with children. The appearances are hard for her to believe, even more so as she never knows who's going to turn up next. One minute it's a cute boy her own age, the next it's the lunch lady or a little girl. She'd been keeping it a secret from everyone, though she has finally revealed it to her artistic and generally sensitive boyfriend, Adam (Christopher Marquette), who believes she's been experiencing hallucinations.

    Rounding out the Girardi family are her art-teacher mother, Helen (Mary Steenburgen); her 16-year-old science-geek brother, Luke (Michael Welch), and her older, newspaper-writer brother, Kevin (Jason Ritter), a former high-school sports star who is in a wheelchair as a result of a car accident. Joan's unlikely new best friend is her publicly caustic and rebellious, but privately insightful and supportive classmate, Grace (Becky Wahlstrom). Unsure of what God wants--if God exists--and if she's even sane, Joan tentatively follows God's cryptic directives, all the while trying to retain a normal teenaged existence. Theme Song:

    "One of Us" Performed by Joan Osborne

    CBS Broadcast History:

    September 2003 - May 2005 --- Friday 8:00 pm

    Awards and Nominations:

    2003 - Won - People's Choice Awards - Favorite New Dramatic Series
    2003 - Won - American Film Institute - Top 10 TV Programs of the Year
    2004 - Nominated - Golden Globes - Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series (Drama): Amber Tamblyn
    2004 - Nominated - Golden Satellite Awards - Best Performance by an Actress in a Series (Drama): Amber Tamblyn
    2004 - Won - Golden Satellite Awards - Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series (Drama): Mary Steenburgen
    2004 - Won - Saturn Awards - Best Actress on TV: Amber Tamblyn
    2004 - Nominated - SyFy Genre Awards - Best Young Actor: Amber Tamblyn and Michael Welch
    2004 - Won - The Humanitas Prize - 60 Minute TV Category: Pilot episode
    2004 - Nominated - The Humanitas Prize - 60 Minute TV Category: The Uncertainty Principle episode
    2004 - Nominated - Television Critics Assn. - Outstanding New Program
    2004 - Nominated - Teen Choice Awards - Best TV Show: Drama, TV Actress Drama: Amber Tamblyn, and Choice Fresh Face: Amber Tamblyn
    2004 - Nominated - Emmy - Outstanding Drama Series; Outstanding Lead Actress in Drama Series: Amber Tamblyn; Outstanding Guest Actress in Drama Series: Louis Fletcher (Do The Math episode)
    2004 - Nominated - Artios Awards - Dramatic Pilot Casting: Vicki Rosenberg
    2004 - Won - The Family Television Awards - Best Drama Series and TV Actress: Amber Tamblyn
  • Genre(s): Drama
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. Philadelphia Inquirer
    Reviewed by: Jonathan Storm
    Jun 21, 2013
    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. Cleveland Plain Dealer
    Reviewed by: Mark Dawidziak
    Jun 20, 2013
    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]
  3. Kansas City Star
    Reviewed by: Aaron Barnhart
    Jun 20, 2013
    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]
  4. Deseret News
    Reviewed by: Scott D. Pierce
    Jun 20, 2013
    Certainly one of the more intriguing new shows of the year. [26 Sept 2003, p.C08]
  5. New York Post
    Reviewed by: Adam Buckman
    Jun 20, 2013
    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]
  6. Newsday
    Reviewed by: Noel Holston
    Jun 20, 2013
    A sentimental new series whose flaws are fairly easy to forgive. [26 Sept 2003, p.B03]
  7. San Diego Union-Tribune
    Reviewed by: Preston Turegano
    Jun 21, 2013
    In its premiere, Joan of Arcadia comes off fragmented and aimless. [26 Sept 2003, p.E-11]

See all 34 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Feb 23, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click expand 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! Expand