Hot Docs 2018: United We Fan

The people behind “save our show” campaigns are profiled in United We Fan. Over the years, fans of low-rated, but beloved television series have banded together to save the shows from cancellation. This includes Bjo and John Trimble, who are known as “The Couple that Saved Star Trek,” as well as Dorothy Swanson, who would go on to found the the Viewers for Quality Television. These campaigns are not always successful, but they demonstrate the dedication of these fans.

In United We Fan, filmmaker Michael Sparaga talks to the “fan activists” responsible for fan campaigns to save shows, such as Star Trek, Cagney & Lacey, and Person of Interest. In many cases, these campaigns centre around serialized shows with a dedicated fanbase, but low overall ratings. From letter-writing campaigns to infamous sending of 50,000 lbs of nuts to save the show Jericho, there have been many different methods fans of utilized to save their favourite programs.

These days, it almost seems like there’s a petition every season to save some cult show that is otherwise in danger of cancellation. United We Fan features some interesting stories from the people who kicked off this trend, such as the Trimples, who organized a massive letter-writing campaign to save the original Star Trek from cancellation. The film also goes into the downside of such campaigns, such as the show making unpopular changes or in the case of Dorothy Swanson, having to close a relationship with Cagney & Lacey producer Barney Rosenzweig, with him expecting VQT to save all his shows. Overall, United We Fan demonstrates the passion of people who want to save their favourite TV shows.

8 / 10 stars
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Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).