Life Goes On (TV series)
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (November 2010)|
|Life Goes On|
The cast of Life Goes On. Clockwise from left: Kellie Martin, Patti LuPone, Bill Smitrovich, Chris Burke, and Arnold the Semi-Wonder Dog.
|Created by||Michael Braverman|
|Theme music composer||Lennon–McCartney|
|Opening theme||"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"
Performed by Patti LuPone and the cast of Life Goes On
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||83|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Original run||September 12, 1989 – May 23, 1993|
Life Goes On is a television series that aired on ABC from September 12, 1989, to May 23, 1993. The show centers on the Thacher family living in suburban Chicago: Drew, his wife Elizabeth, and their children Paige, Rebecca, and Charles, who is known as Corky. Life Goes On was the first television series to have a major character with Down syndrome.
The drama featured the Thacher family, whose son, Charles "Corky" Thatcher (played by Chris Burke), had Down syndrome, while their daughter Becca (played by Kellie Martin) was gifted but socially awkward with her classmates. Tony Award winning stage actress Patti LuPone played the mother Elizabeth ("Libby") and Bill Smitrovich played the father Drew. Eldest sister Paige Thatcher was played by Monique Lanier during the 1989–1990 seasons and by Tracey Needham during the 1990–1993 seasons. Becca's boyfriend and Corky's buddy Tyler Benchfield was played by Tommy Puett. Jerry Berkson (Ray Buktenica) was Libby's quirky boss. In the latter two seasons of the show Becca's boyfriend Jesse McKenna was played by Chad Lowe.
Executive Producer Michael Braverman first cast Chris Burke in the 1987 television movie Desperate, based on Braverman's favorite book, Lord Jim. After seeing Burke's work, ABC executives asked Braverman to create a show around Burke.
The show is set in the Chicago suburb Glenbrook, Illinois, which is named after the high school attended at the time by one of Braverman's children, the name itself a blend of the real suburbs served by the school, Glenview and Northbrook.
The opening credits of each episode end with a shot of Arnold, the family dog (billed as "Arnold the Semi-Wonder Dog"). Apparently forgotten by the family, he sits forlornly in the kitchen with his empty food bowl in his mouth and lets it drop to the floor. The show's producers received a constant trickle of letters each week from viewers who thought this was cruel, so in the final episode's opening credits, a bag of dog food spills out of a nearby cabinet.
Early seasons 
During the show's first year, the focus mainly was placed upon Corky. Much of the show examined the challenges of a family whose son had Down Syndrome. The Thatchers sought to have Corky interact with regular society after spending years socializing Corky amongst other kids with Down syndrome in "special" classes. Indeed, this need to integrate Corky into "normal" society was the main storyline in Season 1 of the series, as the Thatcher family opted to enroll Corky into a regular high school despite the principal's demand that Corky be placed in an alternative program for those with Down syndrome.
In addition, during the first three seasons, episodes included Tyler Benchfield (Tommy Puett), Becca's high school crush, who also had a brother with Down syndrome.
Corky eventually got a job as an usher at a local movie theater. He later found a girlfriend in Amanda Swanson (Andrea Friedman), who also had Down syndrome, and whom he married by the end of the series.
Later seasons 
By the beginning of the second season, the writers had begun to expand the scope of the show beyond Corky, and in the third and fourth seasons the show's focus centered on Becca and a new character named Jesse (played by Chad Lowe). Jesse was a junior and met Becca through the school's theatre department. As the two became friends, Jesse told Becca he was HIV positive. Tyler became a less prominent figure in Becca's life, and was jealous of Becca's closeness with Jesse. The character of Tyler was soon thereafter written out of the show, but was given a memorable send-off, dying in a car accident with Corky as a passenger.
Becca and Jesse began a relationship, despite his HIV, much to the surprise of those around them. The writers began to explore life with HIV through Jesse's character, and the difficulties the disease causes with romantic relationships. The relationship between Corky and Becca, previously portrayed as close, also was explored as Corky briefly turned his back on his sister for dumping a mutual friend in order to date Jesse.
The first episode of the fourth season, in which a 40-something Becca (played by Pamela Bellwood) tours the house she grew up in while remembering the events of twenty-five years earlier, establishes that Jesse would ultimately die from AIDS, and that Becca would move on and marry a man named David. The series itself ended ambiguously but upbeat, showing Becca five years later, married, and with a son.
Broadcast history and U.S. television ratings 
|Season||Timeslot (EDT)||Season Premiere||Season Finale||TV Season||Nielsen Ranking|
|1||Sunday 7:00 pm||September 21, 1989||May 13, 1990||1989–1990||N/A|
|2||Sunday 7:00 pm||September 16, 1990||May 5, 1991||1990–1991||#68 (8.92 rating)|
|3||Sunday 7:00 pm||September 27, 1991||May 15, 1992||1991–1992||#68 (9.21 rating)|
|4||Sunday 8:00 pm||September 20, 1992||May 23, 1993||1992–1993||#66 (9.11 rating)|
In Canada, the show currently airs on Crossroads Television System.
Awards and nominations 
The show won two Emmy Awards, one for Chad Lowe ("Jesse") in 1993 for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, and one for Viveca Lindfors in 1990 for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series..
DVD release 
On May 9, 2006, Warner Home Video released Season 1 of Life Goes On on DVD in Region 1. It is unknown if the remaining three seasons will be released at some point. The DVD release of Life Goes On, Season 1, has a replacement theme song at the beginning of each episode with the exception of the show's pilot. The replacement was due to high licensing costs for the Beatles' song "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da." The new song aptly titled "Life Goes On" was written by composer Marc Jackson of MoonLab Music and sung by singer/songwriter Tara Johnston. The song was written specifically for the DVD release.
Coincidentally, "Life Goes On" was also the title of the theme song for another primetime series of the era, Empty Nest. However, that song is completely different from the one on the DVD.