JOAN OF ARCADIA is a new CBS television series that attempts to make the spiritual connection of TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL relevant to teenagers. CBS was first in the television ratings at the end of last year, but CBS’s audience skews older so CBS can’t get as much for its ad time as NBC. Therefore, CBS wanted a program that kept its family image, but reached out to teenagers.
In this program, a teenage girl named Joan Girardi, played by Amber Tamblyn, meets God at various different points during her daily life. God appears to her as a handsome young boy, an old man, and a black cook at the school cafeteria. She’s not particularly religious and finds it hard to believe in, much less to find time for, God in her life. Her parents, the police chief Will Gerarde, played by Joe Montagne, and his wife, played by Mary Steenbergen, are perplexed and disturbed by Joan’s conversations with God.
In this episode, God tells her to go work at a bookstore. At the same time, there has been a man sexually abusing and killing young teenagers Joan’s age. When she comes out of the bookstore, the man attempts to get Joan into his car. The episode ends without any resolution of this issue.
JOAN OF ARCADIA is not a story of overcoming like TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL. Angels do not appear to help people learn how to solve their problems. More questions are raised than answered when God appears. Some of the elements are very dark and frightening. In fact, at points the program borders on a thriller.
The good news is that the program helps bring up the issue of God in a concrete way, and it adheres to sort of a Judeo Christian dialogue about who God is. The not so good news about the movie is that it fails to show that we know who God is in the flesh: He is Jesus Christ. The orthodox biblical view is that every epiphany or appearance of God is Jesus Christ, although God acts in and through people, and we become His hands, feet, and voice as His church. When he appears in the flesh, He is Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, the writers of the program have included Islam in the Judeo-Christian mix, and some of the dialog gives the impression that Islam has the same faith in the same God whom Jews and Christians worship, which is not the case.
For those who are looking for TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL, they may not be satisfied with JOAN OF ARCADIA. Martha Williamson, who is a committed Christian, is “the brains” behind TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL, whereas in JOHN OF ARCADIA, its executive producer, Barbara Hall, says she is still searching and takes the position that this could be a psychological phenomenon.
In this regard, CBS is skirting on thin ice. The vast majority of people in the United States believe in God and adhere to a Christian belief system. Several shows that have tried to introduce God have failed because they have not respected the views of Christians. So far JOAN OF ARCADIA seems to be on target, but there are some elements in the first episode that could go awry in future episodes.
Also, although there is no sex in the program, there is the threat of violence and scenes of the aftermath of violence.
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SUMMARY: JOAN OF ARCADIA is a new CBS television series where a teenage girl named Joan, played by Amber Tamblyn, meets God at various points during her daily life. The episode we saw helps bring up the issue of God in a concrete way, but could be more redemptive and Christian.
(BB, V, M) God-centered worldview where God appears as different people to a young teenage girl; no foul language; threat of violence; no sex; no alcohol; no smoking; and, some minor rebellion.