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|Do these sound familiar? |
...a marathon rendition of "MacArthur Park"; a performance so long-winded that it required a drive-in theatre style intermission where popcorn and pizza were peddled.
.. A highly relevant TV series, "The Young Plumbers," starring a trio of hip young plumbers who open a free Neighborhood Plumbing Clinic.
... An educational television commercial, encouraging viewers to rear "chinchillas" for profit, featuring an intimate portrait of these three-eyed, fur-bearing insects.
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A plug for "Flax Flakes."
| | Beyond Our Control Vehicle, a converted hearse. | ||... TV soap operas, featuring "Days Of Our Weeks," an endless daytime drama detailing the plight of an innocent man convicted of murder, a female brain surgeon and a pregnant Great Dane. |
... TV weather shows, starring "Florence the Weather Woman" who drifts lazily over town in a hot air balloon, predicting the weather and dodging birds.
... TV sportscasts, featuring a session of Championship Wrassling, highlighted by a match between Farmer Don Cowboy and a fully-grown boa constrictor.
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|... Chapter 631 of an old-fashioned silent movie serial, starring a bored heroine, a bewildered hero and a disinterested Wonder Dog named "Rex." |
... The parable of "The Electric Rag", a self-powered cleaning device which goes wild, acquires its own personality, and eventually disposes of its owners.
...a TV game show, "You Bet Your Clothes," where each wrong answer costs a guest celebrity one item of his apparel.
| || | Poking fun at jungle movies.
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The hilarious program of innuendos: "The Nearlywed Game."
|If these highly unorthodox television features sound familiar to you, you're probably one of the regular viewers of Beyond Our Control, a genuinely unique half hour telecast by WNDU-TV, the Notre Dame Station in South Bend, Ind. Just as unusual as the program itself is the behind the-scenes story of who produces it. Beyound Our Control is-believe it or not-an educational program! It's produced by 24 teenagers from area high schools, working in association with advisers from the regular staff of WNDU-TV. The show is a Junior Achievement project, all right, created to give high school students some practical television broadcasting experience -but there's nothing "junior" about its achievements; it's, as the cool world has it, outasite! The company, whose membership changes each year, is now in its tenth season of operation. |
| || | A parody of a beer commercial "Jam Session."
|The students and advisers work together to create the script for each show, which is videotaped on Saturday mornings in the WNDU-TV color studio. The taping sessions run about five hours each week and are generally pretty hectic. "We are frequently reminded, during our taping sessions, of Robert Benchley's remark that the scene had 'all the casual informality of a prairie fire,' " says one of the advisers to the project. |
The show is deliberately fast-paced and the half-hour races by. Nothing is ever explained or introduced, the show moving quickly from real commercials to parodies.
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|A western satire called, "Wagon Wheels, Warpaint, and Horsies." |
|A take-off on silent movie thriller serials. |
|Each week, for the 13-week seasons, the teenagers get together and assemble a half-hour conglomeration of parodies, experimental film and generally irreverent comedy; The show's title comes from the phrase, "Due to conditions beyond our control" generally used by TV stations to explain technical difficulties. But actually, the title refers to a whole panorama of today's culture - - . the music, movies, TV shows, advertising, environment, and anything else which might be "beyond our control." But the show's favorite-target is television itself. |
In a way, Beyond Our Control is biting.the hand that feeds it because the project is partially subsidized by WNDU-TV. However, the station gives the teenagers a relatively free hand in satiriztng the television medium and is often the target as Beyond Our Control aims its darts at:
... TV kiddies' shows, featuring a neurotic host, "Uncle Sally," his studio audience disciplinarian, "Mr. Torture," and the low-budget "Talking Wall."
... TV game shows, featuring The Nearly-Wed Game, a panel show which brought together young couples on the eve of their weddings for 30 minutes of double-entendres.
... TV dramas, featuring "Mission: Out Of The Question," which found the hero locating his weekly taperecorded instructions in a public restroom.
The audience seems to particularly relish the show's kidding of television commercials, and Beyond Our Control has invented a veritable warehouse of its own bogus products, including: - - - Flax Flakes, "the cereal that's shot from con- tented cows. - - - Super Prune, "the laxative mild enough for babies, convalescents and the infirm." - - - Benign Tuna, "to put a little kindness in your casserole." - - - Janitor in a Canister, "the industrial-strength mouthwash." - - - Glory Whip, "the combination dessert topping/ floor cleaner that promises no wax build-up in the stomach."
Does everybody get all the jokes? Nope. "One week we did a take-off on hard-sell commercials for furniture store fire sales, using a fast talking pitchman and a stack of junk furniture. We all thought it was pretty funny, until the station got a call from a viewer requesting more precise directions on how to get to the store," recalls one participant.
It may be confusing to some - - - but for plenty of South Bend area viewers, Beyond Our Control is one of television's funniest and most unusual shows. And in this case, the amateurs are running the show- Wildly. Wonderfully!
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