It's tempting to imagine the first Joan of Arcadia story pitch to network executives: "Think Joan of Arc meets Rock & Roll High School! The Supreme Being—sometimes disguised as a slab of adolescent beefcake—drops in for heart-to-heart chats! Every TV-loving teenager will love it!"

It's a pity the show airs on Friday nights, when few self-respecting arbiters of teenage cool would be anywhere near home or the family television set. Nevertheless, Joan is garnering healthy enough ratings to attract some glowing coverage from entertainment magazines, and is likely to win renewal into a new season.

Don't be fooled by the lovely and befuddled Joan Girardi (Amber Tamblyn): Joan of Arcadia uses many teen-friendly elements in its recipe, but it's a show adults may watch without shame.

There are no gauzy images of angels on this show. Instead, God visits Joan directly, appearing as a stranger on a bus, a sassy server in the high school cafeteria, an overly frank guest speaker on teenage sexual hygiene. After the first such visitor convinces Joan he is the Almighty in a non-distressing disguise, she soon learns to recognize God in whatever form comes next.

The God we worship, the God Scripture describes at great length, sometimes does use extraordinary means to call people into his kingdom. In our own day, we see it in Muslims who inexplicably encounter Jesus in their dreams and set off in search of him, or in countercultural heroine Anne Lamott's saying that Jesus simply appeared in her bedroom one night, thus making her possibly the most reluctant convert in Western Civilization since C. S. Lewis.

Then again, Joan requires that Christians check their credulity at the door. God's instructions to Joan often are so mysterious—try out for ...

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Our Rating
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Average Rating
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Directed By
Run Time
1 hour
Amber Tamblyn, Joe Mantegna, Mary Steenburgen
Theatre Release
September 25, 2003
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