I finally watched an episode of Joan of Arcadia, which a friend recommended as something he thought I would like. (I believe his actual words were “eat it up with a spoon.”) He was right; I liked it very much. Anything Mary Steenbergen chooses to be in is something I would like to see. This particular episode also featured Annie Potts, another plus in my book.
The show reminded me of the kind of family television we used to watch when I was growing up, shows that parents didn’t mind watching with their kids and then talking about afterward. I can guess why it didn’t catch on fast enough for the network executives, though: it’s edgy but somehow gentle at the same time. No doubt the gentleness did it in, because something about the production or the writing reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. From the little bit of research I did on the show, it seems that the writers were about to put some teeth into it with the introduction of a sinister foil for Joan. It’s too bad the execs didn’t give it a chance to explore the ratings potential of such a move.
The soundtrack is awesome — it had me at the opening credits with Joan Osborn’s “One of Us” and just kept going. The CBS site for the show lists songs used in selected episodes, and it’s an impressive array of classic and new artists. I wish I had been together enough to watch this show when it first aired, though I spared myself the disappointment of its cancellation by discovering it after the fact. At least the SciFi channel seems to have taken up the baton. On some days, cable is a good thing after all.