Joan of Arcadia (“Silence”)

Season 1, Episode 23
Date of airing: May 21, 2004 (CBS)
Nielsen ratings information: 8.5 million viewers, 5.6/11 in Households, 2.2/9 with Adults 18-49

Whatever this episode tried to do, it was confusing the hell out of me. Of course, the notion that God was just a constant hallucination within Joan’s imagination was always a potential twist for the writers to come back to, especially when JOAN OF ARCADIA was about to be cancelled or closed for business after this episode, and of course, the notion that there must also be a devil here, when God really exists in this series universe, but throwing those two elements into the mix at the same time fried my brain a little bit. On the other hand, ending this season of television, which could have been the only season of JOAN OF ARCADIA, with Joan telling herself (and her parents) that God doesn’t exist is not only a nice way to have potentially ended the show just in case, but to also move ahead to the second season, as Joan and God will have a bit of a difficult relationship from now on. After the Lyme disease situation, Joan will think differently of God, and when you include evil yellow eyes that of Mr. Pryce in this episode, there is even the chance that God will ask Joan to act against the devil, potentially making this episode the beginning of God showing that there is evil in this world and that it will be her mission to stop it. Kind of like in TRU CALLING, when Eliza Dushku’s character was trying to act against someone who hoped to see the people die instead of saved by her (Jason Priestley’s character in the very shortened second season of that show). JOAN OF ARCADIA is still a family show though, so I can’t imagine it ever going so dark as TRU CALLING sometimes did. Except of course the second season of JOAN OF ARCADIA will deliver a Jason Priestley type actor to counter everything God asks of Joan.

This egg run won’t end well for Joan.

It was a solid season finale, albeit less exciting than some of the executives might have wanted it to be. Joan and Adam aren’t at risk, even if Adam figured he shouldn’t be believing in Joan’s story of her interactions with God, making Joan think she is at risk of losing her boyfriend over that. Kevin didn’t have a story in this episode, so he goes into the next season with a fresh slate, maybe even as a reworked character. The only story that can be considered part of a finale was the thing between Luke and Grace – their relationship has begun, and this at the time the season has ended, which means the writers had all the opportunities in the world to let them have a summer fling, but be separated by the end of it, which means the writers could jump over the summer months and not do anything with that relationship they have just created. That reminds me of the season three finale of the Disney Channel show LIV AND MADDIE, which brought together Joey and Willow after three seasons of it being a running joke, but the fourth season premiere had them separated already. Television makes for terrible history and comparisons sometimes. But hey, since Grace will officially be a main character with the next season, maybe something will come out of that moment with Luke.

Anyway, there must be a reason for Joan to have gone through the Lyme disease spectacle. First of all, she obviously had the illness, and who knows, maybe God was saving her life with something they did or didn’t do (like forcing Joan to do the egg run, so she can quickly grow unconscious, for everyone to notice, which might not have been the case if she had been by herself later — exhaust yourself to save your life), but all in all, I still don’t get why God needed to be so cryptic and mysterious in this episode, all while Joan was unable to do anything. That scene in the hospital with some of the Gods that have appeared throughout the season may have been a interesting way to close the season with (by looking back at some of the actors who have portrayed God this season), but I really have no idea why God needed Joan to have a crisis of faith and why they had to be silent all the time Joan asked questions or grew annoyed. Was this all to let Joan walk back from God on her own terms, just for them to return in the second season and weird out Joan anew? Now, I can buy that God appeared in front of Karen and Will (I assume that Mrs. Washington was another version of God, leading Will to the right clues before another life gets destroyed), because otherwise only Joan’s current health status would have affected them both and I believe they needed a much weirder day for the sake of character development, let alone figure out something important in their lives — Will needed to find the scars and Helen needed to find out she believes in God. Although all of it does make me ask why God was so interested in taking action now, when situations like the hostage taking in the precinct shouldn’t even be in their peripheral vision. I mean, does God really care about a 5-minute hostage taker getting abused by his pregnant girlfriend? Does it really have a purpose in the greater picture of what’s going on in this world and in Joan’s life?

Gods have assembled.

But yeah, the notion of Joan’s crisis of faith is great, especially since it’s gonna be the starting point for the season premiere, although it kind of looks like a repeat of how Joan reacted to God showing up in the series premiere. Then again, I have no idea if this can be considered a crisis of faith in the first place, since Joan isn’t much of a believer to begin with (she only started to talk about whether God exists or not, because God showed up for regular conversations), and because who would have a crisis of faith during a moment of illness? Lyme disease is kind of serious, and trying to put that in connection with God giving you the illness for whatever reason is pretty far-fetched, especially for a spiritual show like JOAN OF ARCADIA. So, maybe the writers overshot a little bit with this episode?

Joan of Arcadia (“The Gift”)

Season 1, Episode 22
Date of airing: May 14,2004 (CBS)
Nielsen ratings information: 7.9 million viewers 6.4/11 in Households, 2.0/8 with Adults 18-49

“Shampooing the rug” — I understood the double entendre of those words when Will was pulling those out of his mouth the second time around, and I think my childish mind was laughing his ass off about those words, and how Will was about to go berserk over those words, because he was thinking the worst that could have happened to Joan after she mentioned those words, confusing the hell out of her father. Things got a little dirty in my and in Will’s mind. I am wondering what went through the writers’ heads when they came up with the line, and how much trouble they might have gotten into with Standards & Practices, because I am sure they were a little worried about this joke-y line.

This was a good episode. JOAN OF ARCADIA being part teenage drama, it was only a question of time until the writers would come around with a plot that resembles a real teenage drama in the vein of THE O.C. or DAWSON’S CREEK, in which the characters talk about sex (or masturbating) or are about to do it, but then emotions got in the way and the writers used those to stop the sex in its tracks, because you can’t just have two major characters have sex for the first time without some major foreplay story-wise. Then again, this episode was pretty close to (being) the season finale, so it would have made sense for Joan and Adam to take each other’s cherries, especially since the aftermath of it had room to be depicted in the next episode, and the viewers didn’t have to wait for the entire summer to see whether the sex ruined Joan and Adam’s relationship. Because the fact is, the two won’t be in love with each other for the rest of eternity. These people are teenagers, they will quickly fall out of love over a stupid thing and move on to the next big thing. There is still another season in play and the writers can’t just keep the main couple together for the rest of their lives, because it doesn’t help them in the greater narrative. It’s not good for their character arcs, which is why on-off relationships are a dime a dozen in scripted television.

Girlfriends talking about boyfriends.

I was a little more interested in Luke’s dilemma this time around, as he seemed like he was in the middle of a teenage midlife crisis himself. Gone from one girlfriend, in love with the other girl, and in-between he doesn’t know what to do or say, because he obviously thinks of Glynis being a waste of time for him, while Grace is still the locked gate he is constantly crashing into, with no hope of the two ever figuring out their feelings for each other. While it is an interesting story for Luke, simply because it’s a complex one for his teenage mind, it’s also an intriguing story to make Grace a real character in the show. First, she had a memorable talk about sex with Joan in the park, during which Grace was the best girlfriend she could have been for Joan: Truthful and emotionally honest, helping Joan without actually giving her the answers Joan was looking for by telling Joan she has to come up with the answer herself. Then that scene in the library with Luke, during which she was real as well, simply because she decided not to be her aggressive, rebellious self and instead be a character who was supposed to become a regular for the next season, therefore she had to behave like such a character. As if the writers wrote this episode and Grace’s story with the fact in mind that she is a main character in the next season – a decision made before the season ended, which by itself is noteworthy.

And the rest of the episode? Well, for once one of Will’s crime stories connected with one of his kids, and it kind of looks like Kevin is about to move up the ladder of his paper, having been moved from factchecking to a specific beat, which might be something that explains why Rebecca isn’t around any longer (it’s also easy to just forget all about her, since she isn’t Kevin’s boss anymore and Kevin neglects to mention her). It’s a pretty neat story development, and one I approve of, simply because it does move Kevin along in his quest of becoming an adult, and the writers haven’t forgotten that Kevin has a job he might be able to do well. I mean, he obviously got a feature at the paper, which should help him get his name out, even if it means he has to step on his father’s toes. Also, it’s a career move for him. It’s almost like he could be a great journalist one day — he found his “thing,” which is something Joan has been looking for quite a while now.

Kevin learns what it’s really like to have a story affect a human.

By the way, I find it a little weird how contradictory Will has been on his job. The guy wants to arrest people and make them pay for what they have done (with prison time), but this time around he actually wants to help a criminal, because that criminal mastermind had a kid. And the thing is, both Kevin and Will are right. Will is reasonable in thinking that a plea deal would help the guy not losing his daughter and get his life around after these crimes, but Kevin can’t be faulted for seeing a story here, especially when it can go a little further than what the episode depicted and you compare the numbers of white criminals being given plea deals to the number of black criminals being given the same opportunity to turn their lives around. Arcadia doesn’t seem like a town full of minorities though, so I can excuse Kevin for not writing his feature about that. I could also be sure that the writers were thinking about bringing that angle into the episode, but CBS said no, as JOAN OF ARCADIA was not supposed to be a show depicting racism and bigotry — it’s a problem CBS probably did not want to look at in 2004.

And finally, there was something about how Adam saw his future as an artist, which reminded me about how Helen saw her own future as an artist very recently. He was scared that he is a nobody and he could not move forward with his artistic work, as he forced himself to do some real money (okay, his father’s illness kind of forced him as well). Helen was sort of in a similar situation, when she painted a painting that was about to sell, yet she was stuck between a rock and a hard place, as she couldn’t come up with anything artistic. I’m not so sure those similarities were put into the show on purpose, but it can be reasoned that Helen and Adam are going through the same art life crisis at the moment, and that the two may have more in common than everyone thinks. That brought me to realize that it doesn’t necessarily have to be Joan who gives Adam faith. It could also be Helen, who could push Adam back into the art ad force him to come up with something. After all, Helen understands art a lot more than Joan does.

Joan of Arcadia (“Vanity, Thy Name is Human”)

Season 1, Episode 21
Date of airing: May 7, 2004 (CBS)
Nielsen ratings information: 8.2 million viewers, 5.7/11 in Households, 2.1/9 with Adults 18-49

It seems like all the fun and excitement and pure drama of the first few episodes has vanished, now that the show has gotten average or slightly above average with its stories that don’t excite a lot of the characters any longer. Episodes that have God tell Joan to do something with a larger-than-expected outcome, as well as episodes like the one with Ramsey almost shooting up a school were exciting, because they were dramatic and emotional, but when JOAN OF ARCADIA was renewed for a back-9 order, it’s like the writers decided to tone down the show and go at the stories with a softer tone, because apparently not every episode of the show can be this highly dramatic and emotional, and every once in a while Joan doesn’t need to be the social worker and instead just has to learn a specific lesson, even when I don’t know why Joan needed to learn that lesson about superficial looks and beauty ad make-up.

Joan going to make-up class wasn’t at all exciting for me, even if I could identify the morale of the story here. The thing is just, beauty standards will almost always exist, and not even a show like JOAN OF ARCADIA can make me think otherwise or different for an hour, simply because the show itself is quickly forgotten after being watched, and the morale of the story gets lost in the shuffle, especially when you have tons of other shows to watch, and definitely when the morale wasn’t that strong to begin with. Even more so, I don’t even believe the story changed Joan at all, especially since it only seemed to have been an attempt at making Joan grow as a character (when it comes to God’s mission), as well as making the Joan/Adam relationship more complex and faulty, maybe even give it some ripples here and there (when it comes to the writers’ missions). So, maybe this episode was here to give Joan and Adam’s relationship some color, or maybe this episode was here to give Joan a perspective on a human standard she wasn’t even aware of to begin with. In retrospect, it was an easy story to get past an episode and get closer to the season finale, because maybe something else was supposed to happen then, but not now, and all the show needed to do at this point was waste some time.

Making your eye darker gets so much shocked excitement out of the women.

At least the other stories were a bit more meaningful. Luke goes through his first break-up, and shockingly it wasn’t even that dramatic, although I am expecting Glynis to be part of the equation at one point and “give back” to Luke for what he did here, even if I never believe that Glynis is the person to dish out as it was given to her. It would be nice and funny though if Glynis happens to become a more popular girl at school, simply because she puts make up on (delivering the morale of “hide your true self, become more mainstream, and maybe you become popular”) and discontinues being herself. By the way, if Friedman really becomes Luke’s successor in Glynis’s love life, there is a good chance that a conflict between Luke and Friedman is being created, and I wouldn’t say no to that. As the season is about to close, and the writers were figuring which recurring characters to carry over to the next season, there is an idea to escalate Luke and Friedman’s friendship, in case the latter is about to be written out of the show during the season finale.

Meanwhile, Kevin apparently had a girlfriend during senior year of high school, and now he hates her. Beth seemed like a character created to deliver back story, and while I don’t mind, it did come over a bit stereotypically, especially after Kevin realized he didn’t know something he maybe should have know. On the other hand, the writers sort of created a premise, in case they needed more stories to come back for and haunt Kevin – up until this episode it hasn’t been established that Kevin can’t remember what happened in the days around the accident. So, he dropped his girlfriend after he was cheating on her, and he behaved like an asshole. The question is, what else could have happened around that time that might come back to bite him in the butt later? And is Beth potentially a character ready to return and give Kevin a run for his money? Maybe a sexy reunion or something like that? Will she be a recurring character in the very near future (as in: the season finale), just so Kevin can get back to being himself (he kind of lost himself after the accident), and we can all forget that Rebecca ever existed, like Kevin has?

There are always tears during a break-up scene.

Helen and Will also had stories, but neither of them were interesting enough for me. Granted, Will’s TV interview brought back some previous story moments, making the show look like it has a bigger level of continuity than it might have appeared during the beginning of the show, but it’s not like blowing up a teenage prostitution ring was changing Will’s life or career. In addition, Helen didn’t go through much either. Here I was, wondering if the sudden realization of being an overnight painter slash artist would change her life, but at the end of the day she retreated. Maybe because she was scared, maybe because she might not be an artist at all, and everything she brought to paper was sheer luck. Fact is that the writers tried making it look like the lives of the parents were about to change, but then nothing happened. She just burned the painting and she was back to status quo. What did she get out of the experience at the end of the day?

Joan of Arcadia (“Anonymous”)

Season 1, Episode 20
Date of airing: April 30, 2004 (CBS)
Nielsen ratings information: 7.6 million viewers, 5.2/10 in Households, 1.9/7 with Adults 18-49

In which Grace will turn into a literary genius, because apparently in this show, everyone finds their thing ever before Joan does, since Joan hasn’t come to the realization that “not giving up” is a thing as well, and it has been her thing ever since God came to her. Although no one knows how much failing Joan did in the past, and how many times she decided to not give up, which is why God decided to come to Joan for minor and major tasks.

Anyway, this episode was good enough. I am getting a little tired over the fact that Joan always thinks God’s tasks are for her own development, when she had to realize by now that Joan is the focal element of people’s lives changing for the better, while sometimes nothing changes for Joan herself. I was annoyed by Joan wanting to find her thing with the yearbook, trying to force herself to a talent, just so she can keep up with all the other students around her. I guess that made for a better moment between her and Adam at the end, before the drop of the very colorful copies of Grace’s poem, but realistically speaking, Joan should have realized her talent a long time ago, and having her still act like a ten-year-old girl who wants to have that one specific thing seems just a little bit out of character. One can only hope Joan knows now what good she is for, and how good she actually is in what she is doing, and that she will never have to question any one of God’s tasks ever again, let alone believe that they are for her own good. Sometimes they are (getting some extra money in her wallet with a job is a good thing for her), but she should have realized by now that God’s tasks are here to help other people, too. Maybe someone should tell Joan that she is going to be a great social worker one day, and most of the times those people are heroes. You just never know, because no one seems them as important people in this society.

Back to being friends, and ow it’s time to kill digital zombies!

I also think that Helen’s disappointment and sadness in Joan not following the JERRY MAGUIRE moment of stepping out with Helen was a bit too much for me, but here I believe that the writers added it, due to the fact that the episode came in short. Kevin obviously had no story in this episode, showing up twice or thrice to react to Joan’s life, just to roll away a minute later, and for whatever reason that happened, the writers needed to replace his storyline with something else, hence Helen’s disappointment. I don’t even know why she believed that she would lose Joan, just because Joan happened to stay with the yearbook project, instead of blindly following her mother into the unknown and unexpected. It’s sort of in contrast with the moment Helen mentioned that she isn’t allowed to make decisions for the yearbook team, let alone influence them to make certain decisions. Yet here was Helen, trying to influence Joan into leaving the yearbook team for her own sake, which was a failure. So, Helen wasn’t allowed to influence the yearbook team, but when she really wanted to do so (with Joan), she was unable to? I don’t really see why that is the message of her character arc. It’s a great conflict, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a little weird that Joan would follow one rule and then just throw it to smithereens.

The rest of the episode was a bit forgettable. I was glad to see that Iris is still part of the show and that the writers didn’t just retcon her out of existence, now that Joan and Adam are an item, but the way the writers handled Iris’s existence during this hour was a bit lame. Although I have respect for the girls to not go all bitchy and furious on each other, just because of a boy, one could have thought that there was a premise behind Iris and Joan’s love for the same boy. The two girls are way too nice to each other, especially after what happened. And still, Iris’s back story has not been made use of ever since her crying moment episodes ago.

Someone is happy that their poem got released.

Meanwhile, you could think that both Kevin and Will didn’t have a story in this episode, because maybe you forgot they were ever in this episode. Will’s story of catching a husband giving money to an assassin should be major for any other CBS crime procedural, but JOAN OF ARCADIA being the successor to TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL, it’s a crime plot almost entirely forgotten, as soon as you have grown some distance to the episode. I did however realize that the writers have recently begun to create police procedural stories for Will that have him reflect on his own family, like he elevator birth making him think how he could ever miss the birth of his own kids. And now the premise of a husband hiring a killer to murder his wife, which makes Will think twice about how screwed up some people’s marriages must be. But yeah, Kevin didn’t have a storyline, right? Is he still looking for feelings inside?

Instead, that amount of screentime went straight to Luke, who sort of got a mature way to develop his character. That thing with Friedman was pretty good, and I appreciated it, as Luke’s story didn’t happen to be about love, but about friendship. It’s a premise JOAN OF ARCADIA hasn’t dived into much lately (basically, only Joan and Grace are friends right now, but not even their friendship is being defined by friendship things), so it’s about time for the show to go down that route again, especially since it seems too real. Hanging around with your girlfriend too much is apparently a real syndrome, and sometimes you just need distance. Hanging out with the buddies might be the right kind of treatment, before any relationship gets sour.

Joan of Arcadia (“Do the Math”)

Season 1, Episode 19
Date of airing:
 April 2, 2004 (CBS)
Nielsen ratings information: 9.5 million viewers, 6.1/11 in Households, 2.2/8 with Adults 18-49

Does it mean you get to become a pro in math when you understand music, or the other way around? I get that there are correlations between the two fields, but I don’t get how Joan managed to build that connection herself, and how she raised her grade a point and a half, just because of piano lessons. I don’t understand triangles at all, and I don’t think I ever will just because of piano lessons, although maybe I am going to understand triangles a little more after listening to the CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND song “The Math of Love Triangles” a little longer. Take the base times the height, cut that in half to find the area of the surfaces, but at the end of the day the center of the triangle is li’l old me. Or in this case Joan and her complicated family. By the way, God truly has a masterplan for Joan, or otherwise Joan wouldn’t have been tasked to take piano lessons, so that three different reality strings can kick in: Joan gets better in math, Joan reunites Will and Richard, and Joan makes Eve think about her past and maybe reconnect with it, as Will was also thinking about reconnecting with his half brother. All this because of trigonometry. Damn, I wish I would have had the urge to live a teenage life like Joan has way back when. No wonder I connected with the show during my teenage years, because in a way it does promote to better yourself, and to not only suck in everything and hock in front of a screen. Sadly I didn’t learn that lesson when it was given to me, as I was sitting in front of my laptop screen.

Two lovers listen to vinyl — this truly is a CBS television show.

This episode was pretty solid, but I got the feeling that the writers have overdone Will’s story just a tad bit. I can feel what it might have been like for him to realize that his father made a much better family after he left Will’s, and there is definitely a story there of Will and Richard’s conflict over who had the better family life and whose father stayed to raise them while the other son got left behind (okay, there isn’t a question, Will was left behind), but when the story began in this episode with the letter Joan found, I was thinking about something more traumatic and emotional in the lives of the two men. Yet what the writers came up with was the most logical way of making it the least complicated story imaginable — it was just a conflict between two brothers and nothing more. But it was a conflict big enough for Will to have this emotional reaction to Richard merely being mentioned at the dinner table that made the story more than it looked like on paper. It made the whole drama a little disappointing in hindsight, especially when you take the aspect of Will and Helen lying to Joan, when there wasn’t really a reason for that lie to exist in the first place. Okay, Will and Richard had a problem with each other, but there is no reason for Will to try to create a ruse out of it and never tell your kids that this part of you existed.

But then again, that exact premise seemed to have been the theme of the episode. Will buried that part of his life in boxes. So did Eve, and Joan happened to go through both boxes back-to-back, opening up old wounds for both senior citizens of Arcadia. At least Eve had a reason to forget her past, because the notion of humiliating yourself in front of a huge audience is more traumatic than a generic conflict you have with your stepbrother that might have only been watched by a handful of people (Helen, the family of Will’s father). Then again, what do I know about persona humiliation, and how much one might try to stay away from it as far as possible, not trying to remember it all?

A family is introduced to a back story kept secret.

Meanwhile, Joan and Adam go through this romance thing again, and it sort of ended well for them, even if this episode had to end on another very slow kiss between the two, repeating their happy end scene at the end of “Jump,” which had the same kinda “Joan ad Adam start locking their lips in slow motion” moment. I have to say though, I’m not that happy about how Iris has been potentially written out of the show just like that. There better be an aftermath of Adam and Iris’s talk, let alone Iris asking Joan what the heck is going on between her and Adam, because otherwise there isn’t much of a reason for Iris to have existed in the first place, even if she put the Joan/Adam coupling to a stop, so that the writers may use a fresh version of it for the final episodes of the season (which is probably why Iris was created). I am still disappointed that the writers didn’t make anything out of Iris’s sad and traumatic back story, let alone not making her best friends with Joan to make the whole Joan/Adam premise even more awkward and interesting. But oh hey, Joan and Adam kissed. Again. Now off to the next topic in the two’s story: the next kiss? By the way, do Luke and Glynis really have sex right now? Is that happening for real, or was that just a joke between Joan and Luke?

Finally, there is some Kevin stuff in it again, and because the writers didn’t know what to do with him, his disability is front and center, and he gets sort of depressed again about his probability of walking again. It’s not a fun story, and it’s not quite the greatest idea by the writers either, but something must have happened for Kevin to have become this boring. Ever since Rebecca was written out, Kevin hasn’t been an interesting character, so off the writers went to his initial problem. It’s almost like the character was scaled back again, due to the writers having been out of ideas of what to do with the character.

Joan of Arcadia (“Requiem for a Third Grade Ashtray”)

Season 1, Episode 18
Date of airing: March 12, 2004 (CBS)
Nielsen ratings information: 10.6 million viewers, 6.0/11 in Households, 3.0/8 in Households

This episode ended with a fart joke. The writers must have felt like they were children when breaking this episode, but who would have thought that Kevin’s farts would actually lead to a story development for him? Granted, Kevin’s nerve endings starting to regenerate is a bit of a lazy story choice, as I don’t really want him to be walking again, or ever, but there was something about Luke and Kevin having this personal moment, while no one else in the family just realized that Kevin knew beforehand that his farts were on the way and that it means his nerve endings were regenerating. Side note, I never knew that being paraplegic also means you can’t feel when a fart is coming on. Can you also not feel when a bowel movement is coming on, or is the stomach area still okay for a wheelchair-bound human being?

Even scientific geniuses can be sick every once in a while.

The episode was good enough. I loved that Joan had to be a mature Girardi in this episode, running half of the household, making dinner, caring for a Girardi kid, all while also having to deal with her own life, during which she has made dates and appointments, which essentially means she had to cancel some of them, like an adult, simply because she was too busy. That is actually a great way to depict adulthood, and how it’s a no-go for all the teenagers in the world, because maybe they aren’t ready for adulthood just yet, when all they want is study or hang with their friends. By the way, Adam wasn’t the smartest when he scheduled his little coffee shop art show on the eve of a big chemistry exam, and both Grace and Joan weren’t the smartest, as they could have scheduled their study group at Joan’s place instead of the library, including Grace bringing along the chemistry notebook for Luke. Grace was already not interested in going to Hebrew class, she could have just skipped that for her chemistry study group (and her father shouldn’t blame her for skipping Hebrew school to study for high school). I get that feeling the teens made their lives way too complicated during this episode, but that is also a way to show that they are just teens: They simply don’t know any better. Or maybe the writers just created plot inconsistencies with this episode, which is more likely.

Meanwhile, Helen’s little art project in class maybe could have had a bigger impact for some of the characters. I didn’t get the feeling that Adam was particularly impressed by smashing up things to rearrange them into a new piece, and I don’t get the feeling that Joan has learned something considerably important when giving away her handprint turtle, although the image of Joan softly smashing the turtle was kind of hilarious. It was one of those tiny moments that make Amber Tamblyn an excellent actor and perfectly cast for the show, even if some of her mannerisms weren’t really of a regular and real teenager at some points, like during those times she yells after God with a PG-13 insult, for everyone else around to hear and wonder whether this girl is nuts (the irregular running joke of the series, barely funny, but at least slightly amusing).

Talking about Gods and Jews is not easy among 16-year-olds.

I also have to say that Grace’s story seemed wasted in this episode. She obviously has a bit of a problem being hampered with her Jewish ancestry at home, while it looks like she is getting freedom to do whatever she wishes to do (except when it’s about Hebrew school), but I would have hoped the story had been placed a little bit front and center during this episode. We have already learned a lot about Adam, and that may be just because the producers knew and expected for Chris Marquette to be a special guest star after the back-9 order, and a potential regular for a potential second season, but considering how much of a regular character Grace has become during this season, and how many, albeit minor, conflicts she has carried out with some of the characters, I would have expected for her issues with her father (and I’m not even sure she really has any, because of the fact she doesn’t get that amount of screentime) to be a prominent story here. Especially when it’s all about her problems with Joan knowing about her problems.

And then there was the elevator birth. Somebody must have decided to recycle the EARLY EDITION episode “Baby,” because the setup was almost the same. Thank the heavens that the story had a bit of a twist at the end, when I was kind of in shock to hear the mother didn’t want the baby. If an hour of television had been 90 minutes long, it could have been a guarantee for the woman to have “not noticed” she was pregnant at all, and her breaking the water was an utter shock for her. With that in mind though, the story ended a little bit openly. But does Will even care about what happens after the birth? It’s not like he was particularly invested in it, and only thinking about how he could have missed the same thing happening with his wife and three kids. By the way, was he really absent of his kids’ births? I am a little suspicious about that…

Joan of Arcadia (“No Bad Guy”)

Season 1, Episode 17
Date of airing: February 27, 2004 (CBS)
Nielsen ratings information: 10.8 million viewers, 7.0/12 in Households, 2.4/8 with Adults 18-49

As always, I am asking myself if and how God’s tasks for Joan are supposed to have an affect on her and her surroundings. Most of the times it’s pretty obvious, and twice God even explained what was happening, or what was supposed to happen, if Joan would not have gotten involved in a particular situation or with a specific person. And in the previous episode we got a taste of not knowing what happened, even though it’s obvious that something positive happened. But this episode kind of takes the cake, because I have no idea what happened and what result came out of Joan getting involved with the school’s band, or why Angela’s online diary needed to be hacked into, just so her mother’s breast cancer is revealed to the school audience, let alone the fact that Iris was the one being the evil person who committed this crime out in the open for everyone to see (maybe Iris reading from Angela’s diary was supposed to happen with Joan’s involvement?). Joan in band practice was a minor story, and there to bring some humor into the show by depicting how Joan fails to do something. Now, it could be part of a bigger story, because the band practice mate Joan almost started a friendship with felt like she was supposed to be in more than just this one episode. But then there is the laundry thing Joan was tasked to do, and that one felt like it was written into the script because maybe Amber Tamblyn really had an accident during the shooting of this episode and needed to be in crutches for a week. Because tasking Joan to do the laundry, so she sprains her foot and is annoyed by all the hopping and slow-walking might be another added comedy element (this episode was kind of funnier than every previous hour of the show), but it didn’t have any purpose for the story itself. I have no idea if Tamblyn had foot problems during the production of this episode, but if she did, then I must say that the writers did a great job in accommodating the script and make the injury an issue for her character, even if it had no purpose for the character. And if that wasn’t the case, I still don’t know why God tasked Joan with doing laundry.

Joan just learned she can break drum sticks in half.

The episode was good enough. Joan is properly jealous of Iris now, and all the back story that has been delivered with Iris’s introductory episode are gone now – I really would have thought Iris and Joan will be best friends, due to the fact that Joan can test out her social working skills with a victim of parental abuse, but I guess Jan’s feelings for Adam are overclouding everything, so jealousy it is instead of being friends with the “competition.” Which is a shame, because the friends premise was the better one, and could have made for a great few episodes, or for however long it takes for Adam and Joan to get (back) together. Now it seems like Iris isn’t even an issue for the show and the main pairing in general, since Adam only needed to come to Joan’s house, tell her that he also not just likes her, gets back home, and leaves her behind with a tear and potential hope of a romance. So, what do we need Iris for now? Has she basically been written off the show now by being the evil diary presenter who has not managed to capture the imagination of her would-be boyfriend?

I was however impressed by the revenge story of the episode, despite the fact it was to be expected for something bad and worse to happen during it, which then mirrored Will’s story of trying to figure out whether or not the senior driver could be considered evil and murderous after killing six people. I have no idea if Angela becomes a more important character in the mix, now that her mother’s illness has been revealed, or if the whole story was just here to showcase that even Joan can be a “bad person” every once in a while (notice her silent laughter after Iris started reading the diary), since revenge is such an intriguing premise, and one that promises happiness, especially when you were dealt a horrific blow to your own happiness. One might wonder though why Angela was out to bully Joan like that, when she was also going through the illness of her mother at the same time — she turned into two people, basically, and I get the feeling that by itself was a premise the writers wanted to get into, but might not have had time to do so. Or did Angela learn of her mother’s illness between her sending the underwear picture through school and Friedman’s act of revenge? By the way, both things are a great way to show that you are an asshole.

Never has it been so hard to tell a man that he won’t go to prison.

Meanwhile, the writers obviously tried to connect Joan’s revenge arc with the accident Will was investigating, as well as trying to get his emotions in order. We never knew if Mr. Hansen was just a sick old man, accidentally having killed all these people (because maybe he had a heart attack or a stroke when he drove into the farmer’s market, which would have been an easy story to write), or if he was just a confused old man, not realizing he was killing all these people, while confusing the break with the gas pedal. I’m pretty sure the writers left the conclusion to that case open for reasons, and that Will’s thoughts of revenge (arresting the man, putting him in jail, relieving the victims’ families in the process) were more important, especially when Joan was going through something similar at school, but once more, the writers didn’t really take the time to fully get into it.

Now, if they would have decided to remove Helen’s story of getting bad reviews, then maybe there would have been time for Angela and Will to have bigger stories here, but I even believe Helen needed to go through this phase, if only to showcase that she likes to drink a lot of red wine when in panic mode. My paranoid TV-watching mind can already see an alcoholism storyline coming up, and I am not happy. But Mary Steenburgen is a good actor, so maybe it will be a good story if it ever comes up.