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Fans & Fanatics

Viewers for Quality Television - Founded in 1984, this nonprofit consumer group was dedicated to rescuing critically acclaimed programs from cancellation despite their Nielsen program rating. The history of the now defunct organization can be found in the book "The Story of Viewers for Quality Television: Grassroots to Prime Time" by Dorothy Swanson (Syracuse University Press, 2000).

The Story of Viewers for Quality Television - From Graceroots to Prime Time by Dorothy Swanson, Syracuse University Press, 2000

Initially, Swanson started VQT after conducting a one-woman campaign to save her favorite TV show CAGNEY & LACEY and later writing campaigns to postpone cancellation of such TV programs as ST. ELSEWHERE, DESIGNING WOMEN, FRANK'S PLACE, QUANTUM LEAP, SPORTS NIGHT and PARTY OF FIVE.

Unfortunately, the VQT disbanded in January 2001. The reason? Simply put, "The organization is out of money" reported Swanson, the President and co-founder.

During its 16 year existence, the VQT presented the "Q" Award. The award, voted on by the viewers, nominated actors based on the "quality" of their acting over an entire season rather that "popularity."

In 2000, VQT awarded their “seal of quality” to WB's new Gilmore Girls and 15 returning series:

  • Ally McBeal (Fox)
  • Any Day Now (Lifetime)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (WB)
  • Everybody Loves Raymond (CBS)
  • Frasier (NBC)
  • Law & Order (NBC)
  • Law & Order: SVU (NBC)
  • Malcolm in the Middle (Fox)
  • NYPD Blue (ABC)
  • Once and Again (ABC)
  • The Sopranos (HBO)
  • The Practice (ABC)
  • The West Wing (NBC)
  • Will & Grace (NBC)
  • The X-Files (Fox).

With the demise of VQT other groups like the Wisconsin-based Viewer's Voice, Inc. and the Parent's Television Council continue the good fight for quality television.

TRIVIA NOTE: When sending your comments to a TV network be sure to include your age, address, occupation as well as what about the show (Plotlines, characters, etc.) make you a fan of the program. TIP. To make sure your letter gets to the network President (rather that the program's producers), do not include the name of the show on the envelop.


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