Life Goes On (TV series)

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Life Goes On
Life Goes On.png
The cast of Life Goes On. Clockwise from left: Kellie Martin, Patti LuPone, Bill Smitrovich, Chris Burke, and Arnold the Semi-Wonder Dog.
Created byMichael Braverman
StarringBill Smitrovich
Chris Burke
Kellie Martin
Patti LuPone
Theme music composerLennon–McCartney
Opening theme"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"
Performed by Patti LuPone and the cast of Life Goes On
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes83
Production
Running time60 minutes
Production company(s)Warner Bros. Television
Broadcast
Original channelABC
Original runSeptember 12, 1989 – May 23, 1993
 
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Life Goes On
Life Goes On.png
The cast of Life Goes On. Clockwise from left: Kellie Martin, Patti LuPone, Bill Smitrovich, Chris Burke, and Arnold the Semi-Wonder Dog.
Created byMichael Braverman
StarringBill Smitrovich
Chris Burke
Kellie Martin
Patti LuPone
Theme music composerLennon–McCartney
Opening theme"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"
Performed by Patti LuPone and the cast of Life Goes On
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes83
Production
Running time60 minutes
Production company(s)Warner Bros. Television
Broadcast
Original channelABC
Original runSeptember 12, 1989 – May 23, 1993

Life Goes On is an American television series that aired on ABC from September 12, 1989, to May 23, 1993. The show centers on the Thatcher 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 (Corky, played by Chris Burke).

Overview[edit]

The drama featured the Thatcher family, whose son, Charles "Corky" Thatcher (played by Chris Burke), had Down syndrome, while their daughter Becca (played by Kellie Martin) did well at school but was socially awkward. 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 last two seasons, 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 which one of Braverman's children attended at the time. The name itself is a blend of the real suburbs served by the school, Glenview and Northbrook.

Each episode's opening credits 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[edit]

During the show's first year, the main focus was on 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 him 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, as the Thatcher family opted to enroll Corky in 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, Amanda Swanson (Andrea Friedman), who also had Down syndrome; they married by the series' end.

Later seasons[edit]

By the second season, the writers had begun to expand the show's scope beyond Corky, and the third and fourth seasons centered on Becca and a new character named Jesse (Chad Lowe). Jesse, a junior, 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 written out of the show; he was given the memorable sendoff of dying in a car accident with Corky as a passenger.

Much to the surprise of those around them, Becca and Jesse began a relationship despite his HIV. 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, was also explored, as Corky briefly turned his back on his sister for dumping a mutual friend in order to date Jesse.

The fourth season's first episode, in which a 40-something Becca (Pamela Bellwood) tours the house she grew up in while remembering the events of 25 years earlier, establishes that Jesse would ultimately die from AIDS and that Becca would move on to marry a man named David. The series itself ended ambiguously but on an upbeat note, showing Becca five years later, married with a son, named Jesse.

Broadcast history and U.S. television ratings[edit]

SeasonTimeslot (EDT)Season PremiereSeason FinaleTV SeasonNielsen Ranking
1Sunday 7:00 pmSeptember 21, 1989May 13, 19901989–1990N/A
2Sunday 7:00 pmSeptember 16, 1990May 5, 19911990–1991#68 (8.92 rating)
3Sunday 7:00 pmSeptember 27, 1991May 15, 19921991–1992#68 (9.21 rating)
4Sunday 8:00 pmSeptember 20, 1992May 23, 19931992–1993#66 (9.11 rating)

In Canada, the show currently airs on Crossroads Television System.

Awards and nominations[edit]

YearAwardCategoryRecipientResult
1993American Television Awards[1][2]Best Supporting Actress, Dramatic SeriesKellie MartinWon
1990Golden Globe AwardBest Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television FilmChris BurkeNominated
1993Humanitas Prize60 Minute CategoryMarshall Goldberg (For episode "Bedfellows")Nominated
1990Primetime Emmy AwardOutstanding Guest Actress in a Drama SeriesViveca LindforsWon
1991Outstanding Original Music and LyricsMark Mueller and Craig Safan (For episode "Corky's Travels")Nominated
1993Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama SeriesChad LoweWon
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama SeriesKellie MartinNominated
1990Viewers for Quality Television AwardBest Actress in a Quality Drama SeriesPatti LuPoneNominated
1991Nominated
1992Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Drama SeriesKellie MartinWon
Founder's AwardWon
1993Best Quality Drama SeriesNominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Drama SeriesChad LoweWon
Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Drama SeriesKellie MartinNominated
1994Writers Guild of America AwardEpisodic DramaToni Graphia (For episode "Last Wish")Nominated
1990Young Artist AwardBest Young Actor Supporting Role in a Television SeriesTommy PuettNominated
Kevin TellesNominated
Best Young Actress Supporting Role in a Television SeriesKellie MartinNominated
Best Young Actor Guest Starring in a Television SeriesMichael BaysNominated
Ryan BollmanNominated
Best New Television SeriesNominated
Inspiration to YouthChris BurkeWon
1991Best Young Actor Starring in a Television SeriesNominated
Best Young Actress Starring in a Television SeriesKellie MartinWon
Best Young Actress Supporting or Recurring Role For a TV SeriesTanya FenmoreNominated
Leigh Ann OrsiNominated
1992Best Young Actress Starring in a Television SeriesKellie MartinWon
1993Best Young Actress Starring in a Television SeriesNominated
Best Young Actress Recurring in a Television SeriesKiersten WarrenNominated

DVD release[edit]

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.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lowry, Brian (1993-04-16). "CBS leads noms for Emmy rival". variety.com. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "American TV Awards to ‘Seinfeld,’ ‘Fly Away’". variety.com. 1993-05-24. Retrieved 10 November 2013.