Life Goes On: Season One Movie Review

Life Goes On was a high-minded late-'80s family show that was scheduled as early Sunday evening counterprogramming to 60 Minutes. Unfortunately, pretty much everyone kept watching 60 Minutes, and the show never found a large audience. What those Mike Wallace fans missed was a sometimes heartwarming, sometimes lachrymose dramedy that aimed to break new ground by featuring a victim of Down Syndrome as a regular cast member.

The middle-class Thacher clan includes dad Drew (Bill Smitrovich), Mom Libby (Patty LuPone struggling to hold her Broadway theatricality in check), teenager Becca (Kellie Martin), older sister Paige (Monique Lanier), and in the most important role, Chris Burke as Corky, the teenager with Down's. The problems the Thatcher family face on a weekly basis tend to be of a mundane nature, but they're made more interesting when viewed through the Corky prism. Corky struggles with schoolwork as he is mainstreamed into Becca's 9th-grade class. Corky gets bullied. Corky has a crush. Corky goes to the Special Olympics. Corky gets a babysitting job. Corky witnesses a crime. Family meetings, group hugs, and pleas for understanding seem to be a daily occurrence.

For the rest of the family, well, life goes on. Dad struggles with his new restaurant business. Mom hits the glass ceiling at her ad agency and surprises everyone -- except maybe Dad -- by getting pregnant. Paige tries to become a vet's assistant, and Becca goes through puberty, finds a boyfriend with a roving eye, and talks endlessly about it all.

Although the first season tries to stick with Corky storylines, it's obvious that the Corky-centric plots are running thin, so the producers start focusing more of their attention on the blossoming Becca and turning Life Goes On into Sweet Valley High with an AIDS arc. In later seasons Corky fades into the woodwork as Becca finds a new boyfriend, the dreamy but troubled Jesse (Chad Lowe!), who turns out to be HIV positive. What had been the show about developmental disability becomes the show about AIDS awareness and understanding.

Tedious though it may be at times, Life Goes On could be a good family viewing choice for parents who want to heighten their tweens' awareness and teach them a few things about tolerance and sympathy. If you've already burned through all of Little House on the Prairie, this is a good modern-day follow-on.

Cast & Crew

Director : , Lorenzo DeStefano, R.W. Goodwin, , Michael Nankin, , Sandy Smolan, Paul Wolff, Michael Braverman

Producer : William Cairncross, Lorenzo DeStefano, Thania St. John

Starring : Chris Burke, , , , Monique Lanier


Comments

Life Goes On: Season One Rating

" OK "

Rating: NR, 1989

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