I've decided that statisticians in America can't actually count. So many new TV shows are touted to be "The Number 1 new US drama/comedy/reality-phenomenon". There can be only one number one. I accept that each show may indeed be a number one somewhere. Whether it be on that particular network or on some small island, it is possible to be a number one show in context.
Alas, I'm not writing to rant about repeatitive hyperbole.
When I heard about Joan of Arcadia last year I felt mildly interested. A girl who hears voices, one of which is God. Not exaclty new territory.
The show title ins't terribly inspired either. I knew it was too high of a risk to air during ratings, so I patiently waited to see if someone would take the non-risk of a summer slot.
Another fear was that it was going to be some sort of demon spawn of '7th Heaven', and when I saw it's 7:30pm Wednesday and Thursday nights slot they deepened. Regardless I set my VRC to record, as I was working.
The first 10 minutes of a pilot is typically the time when a show hooks me. If I'm not wanting to know more about characters I've never seen before, then it doesn't bode well for long term viewership. To be frank (please don't shoot me in the eye), the first 10 minutes of Joan were plain dull. It systematically and uninspiringly introduced each of Joan's family. None of whom exuded anything terribly interesting or unique.
Joan's dad, Will, is the local chief of police and the show's opening scene is a murder scene attended by him. These scenes didn't work for me at all. There are so many murder scenes on TV every week that a show that's not a cop show has to give me something unique or it's all very dull. Joan's are dull and I didn't care why the girl was dead.
The title sequence began and I couldn't help but groan. Groan really loudly. I dare anyone not to groan (I like the word groan. Groan!). So what would be the most obvious, and yet least likeable, theme song for a show about God talking to a girl? You must be thinking "What if God were one of us?", yes? Well, that's what the song is and a really average performance of it too. For me, an original song would have been far more credible.
Joan's asleep and hears a voice whispering her name, and the next day she hears the voice again as she notices a man standing on her front lawn looking up at her. He appears on the bus to school and he confronts her once she gets off. This 'cute' and not scary caucasian guy tells her he is God. THE God. I, as does Joan, doubts his sincerity. Of course, it's just a form and he/she/it explains the deal quite well and without forcing Joan or us to bow down and worship. The choice is ours. I am glad for that. So is Joan, she tells him to bugger off. He says it's ok, and that he just wants her to go get a job at a local bookstore. Weird.
Joan doesn't go to the bookshop and the following day an african-american woman who is serving in the school's refectory asks Joan why she didn't go for the job. God could be anyone. Good to know, and also a little disturbing. Omniscient is the word. He said look it up. I did: 'to have unlimited knowledge'.
Thus far there have been a few good moments, but I'm still far from hooked. I realise that visually it's all very standard and boring. There was no unique colour nor lighting style. Same with the ensemble characters. Nothing terribly enthralling to start with.
I'm starting to think that I've wasted my time when Joan heads to the bookstore and claims the job, sending the owner home to fix a rabbit issue. Although an unpleasant type guy, the owner catches my attention by declaiming "we don't sell anything Harry Potter here", firing a couple of other good quips off in quick succession. The bookshop itself looks fairly unremarkable, not musty or old, nor shiny and new. That is untill a wide shot much later on that reveals the large tree in the centre of the store. I like.
Following predictability laws Joan mistakes the creepy murder guy for God and nearly gets nabbed.
Joan's family have a way to go from this shakey start. Her mother has issues about her eldest son's disability, the father seems to be based on a 50's father, the youngest brother is a geek-genius who is boring, and the older brother is paraplegic who is still wallowing about his situation. Each have simple issues, but aren't terribly complex.
I enjoyed the way the small details had big impact upon others. Joan's pursual of the job at the bookshop inspired her big brother to maybe starting to get on with his new life. Sounds lame, but it worked for me.
I've set the tape for tonight. I'll see how it goes.
If there's more tree, then I'll be back.