The Beyond Our Control Arrow.

Beyond Our Control (or B.O.C., as it was called by fans in a hurry to warm up their television sets to catch the weekly comedy show) has been, at one time or another, variously likened to "Laugh-In" and "Monty Python's Flying Circus" and "NBC's Saturday Night Live." Actually, it predates all of these, and sported its own distinctive style of parody, music and experimental film.
John Weiler, Bill Siminski,and David Williams, 1969.
(L. to R.) John Weiler, Bill Siminski, Dave Williams, circa 1969.

The half-hour show, created by Dave Williams and initially directed by Mark Heller and Bill Siminski, was SRO for commercial advertisers, and in 1973, the National Association of Television Program Executives called it the nation's best locally-produced variety show in its market class.

It earned the kind of national publicity most local shows only dream of: TV Radio Mirror, Parade, Seventeen and TV Guide, as well as industry magazines by Bolex and Kodak to name a few periodicals that have featured the show.
Tim Hanlon and Mark Heller, 1973.
Mark Heller calls the shots as Tim Hanlon waits the chance to call his own, circa 1973.

But the most unusual thing about this program was its cast and crew: by the 1974 season, none of them were over 18 years old. BOC, which incubated a number of today's film and television writers, directors, actors, producers (as well as industry critics -- check them out on the Internet Movie Database), was the end product of a broadcast education project sponsored by WNDU-TV, the University of Notre Dame's NBC affiliate in South Bend, IN (though it was never part of any school's curriculum).

Each year, 30 individuals (artists, techies, popular, weird, jocks, wimps, well-off, not-well-off), ranging in age from 14 through 18, were selected from some 150 applicants (students of high schools within the 60-mile radius of South Bend) to take part in the organization.

Don Borchers, 1975.
Don Borchers (far right) advised kids on how to make movies before heading to Hollywood to make his own, circa 1975.

Working over the years with advisers Joe Dundon, Denny Laughlin, John Weiler, Don Borchers and others from WNDU-TV, the students would write, film, produce, perform and direct the weekly show.

Meanwhile, the students were also knocking on the doors of the area's leading retailers and advertising agencies, peddling the more than 120 advertising availabilities for the show's 13-week season.

William Thomas Hamilton, 1975.
Our Founder, William Thomas Hamilton, circa 1975.
Unlike many broadcast education projects, "Beyond Our Control" was also a business education. WNDU-TVExecutive Vice President and General Manager William Thomas Hamilton insisted that the students learn about the economics of broadcasting, and chartered his project under the aegis of Junior Achievement, a nationwide program of economics education. (Brief JA History.)

The show's original format in the early 1960s was a combination of talent show, game show, and quiz show.

It wasn't until the 1967-'68 Season when Dave Williams guided Beyond Our Control toward parody of television itself that things really began to take off.

For the next five years, though the "kids" were writing, performing, and operating all the technical posts, an adult adviser (a WNDU-TV professional) directed the show.

But from 1974 through the final episode thirteen seasons later in 1986, Beyond Our Control was a 100% youth production.

Work would begin in June, shooting on-location 16mm film to create the outdoor "epics". Summer project 1975, for example, was Herculon's Mightiest Chore, a five-chapter mythological serial, starring a muscular hero confronted with a Medusa who turned mortals into Jell-0, a torturous Amateur Hour of the Gods, and a quest for the Treasure of the Gods: a Spiegel catalogue and a $50 gift certificate.

Dave Williams, 1968.
Dave Williams (sporting bruises after stopping a falling set with his head), circa 1968.
Kate Doherty, Dave Bashover, and Kerry Johnson in Herculon, 1975.
Dave Bashover as Zeus prepares to unleash his fury from Dave Williams' rooftop in "Herculon's Mightiest Chore," circa 1975.

Summer of 1978, in the wake of a Jaws sequel, Carrie, and The Fury, the thriller Jaws Of Fury introduced viewers to the horror of a telekinetic shark.

Needless to add, everything on the show was done with tongue firmly in cheek. At summer's end, the students, reinforced by new members recruited in September, trooped into the campus studios of WNDU-TV for a crash course in audio and video technology. Within weeks, the students operated cameras, audio consoles, videotape recorders and video switchers like pros, and by November, regular Saturday morning taping sessions were underway.

The show, season-premiering each spring on WNDU-TV and based on the theme of current TV, cinema, and pop culture, would air 12 episodes plus a yearly "Best Of"-episode to highlight, well... the best of the season's highlights.
Kevin Fye in Jaws of Fury, 1978.
Kevin Fye prepares to jump the shark in "Jaws of Fury," circa 1978.

Along the way, those highlights included lampoons of television (Mission: Impossible, Mickey Mouse Club, M*A*S*H, Mister Rogers), film (One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, the Indiana Jones saga, the Star Trek saga), music (the band KISS, the punk movement, Don Kirshner's Rock Concert, Richard Harris' singing MacArthur Park), as well as cool animation in various media including but not limited to clay, still photo, toys, and concession-stand treats (complete with melting fudgesicles).

Kevin Garbacz films the Intermission bit, 1973.
Filming the "Intermission" bit one popped kernel at a time, circa 1973.

Other pieces often included artistic musing on the medium itself, exploration of societal expectations of conventionality, and satires on the glorification of superstars (living and dead). And, like Orson Welles' famed radio production of War Of The Worlds, without intending to cause a panic, BOC actually had some viewers believing (if only for a moment) that Notre Dame's famed Golden Dome had been replaced with a cheap, plastic replica by a group of insurgents calling themselves "Doug". But fans got wise by the end of the show (about the time a "news update" announced that the replica itself had been replaced with a bust of Rita Moreno).

Over the course of nearly two decades, 19 seasons (the first one only in black & white), and more than 225 episodes, some 300+ teens who took the opportunity and gave countless hours of striving to produce the best possible "TV Show About TV" managed to garner various awards in direct competition with professionals.

Some individuals have continued in the industry, some have found other passions. But it is largely agreed, among those who shared the experience, that what is valued of younger days is certainly --
The BOC Arrow.