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Life Goes On: The Complete First Season (DVD)
When Life Goes On first aired on ABC in 1989, it wore its ground-breaking bravura on its theoretical sleeve: The dramedy focused on a hard-working but deep-loving Midwest family, the Thachers, with a small twist. Son Corky, 18, had Down syndrome, and the actor who played him, the charming, sweet-faced Chris Burke, also has Down syndrome. And while many of the plot points revolved around Corky and the challenges he faced being "mainstreamed" into a regular high school, his sweet temperament and determination, and the ongoing trials of the rest of the members of the family, made for a compelling and well-rounded TV saga. The Emmy-nominated Kellie Martin (who would go on to star in ER) plays plucky sister Becca, the 14-year-old initially mortified that her older brother would be in her freshman class, but she rallies, believably, and becomes a key source of emotional support for Corky. The other cast high point is Patti LuPone, who in the '80s was one of the premiere stars of Broadway musicals, and who plays the loving but sometimes battle-scarred mom, Libby, to steely perfection. The Complete First Season contains all 22 episodes, plus some great extras, including commentaries by Burke and series creator Michael Braverman. In the end what made the Thacher family so special was that it was really just like every family; sometimes there are curve balls, and sometimes there are wild moments of joy. And always, life goes on. --A.T. Hurley