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08 May 2004 @ 09:58 pm
Fandoms I Have Loved 4: Due South  
This was a tough FIHL to write, because I have a level of love for this fandom that is almost unhealthy. It's my safety blanket in a cold world full of torture and incest and character death; it's the fandom I turn to when I've just finished two Buffy stories and a long HP that started with the war and ended with a mass funeral. So it's hard for me to take a step back and look at this fandom through the eyes of a stranger, as it were, which is really pretty comical when I think about how recently I became a DS reader.

Before I embarked on DS, I got helpful hints from Fametracker's Gwenyvere1, but I know nothing about the actual show. I've never seen an episode and I'd never heard of the show before I started seeing the name on FF. It took me a while to figure some things out, including, notably, the whole Ray K/Ray V thing, and some of the theories I formed in the interim were as strange as – well, as strange as the canon truth, in this particular case. And canon truth is, generally, pretty strange in DS. Also – surprisingly – fairly grim. Because despite the humor that apparently filled the series and certainly fills the FF, this is not the world's happiest canon, folks. Let's just take a little look at the characters, shall we?

Ray Vecchio, OK, he seems to have known where his towel was. But Ray Kowalski is angry, sad, lonely. This is a guy who went undercover because no one would miss him or even notice he was gone, a guy who seems to have no friends and no life except what he borrowed when he became Vecchio. That, to me, is not the essence of humor. And Fraser? Fraser's worse. Fraser is in exile, in disgrace, and permanently in waiting – in waiting for his life. He's got Dief, and while Dief is certainly an excellent companion, that's it. Fraser doesn't have a family. He doesn't have friends. He doesn't even have happy memories, for god's sake. His closest long-term human relationship is with a dead guy who had no time for him when he was alive. His most challenging task at work is to be a statue. He lives in his freaking office. He's this intelligent, talented, kind man who has no one, nothing, and nowhere. In short, Fraser is possibly the saddest character I've seen outside of Ethan Frome. And when you put Kowalski and Fraser together - well, Russian novelists would be depressed by the possibilities inherent in these two. Ambrose Bierce and Jean-Paul Sartre would be depressed by them. (Though I doubt anyone would be able to tell.) This is one canon with all the angst you need - as in, for your lifetime - built right in.

So, hey, the backstories are downers. But somehow that just makes the FF better; I rejoice all the more when Fraser and Kowalski end up together. And I'm always impressed at how much humor and comedy and light-heartedness people can work into stories about these two.

-Helpful Links for the dS Newbie-

If you don't know the canon, you can fake it with:

Kat Allison's Due South Fandom Intro on crack_van. This was the single most useful resource for me. (Once I found it. Which took a while, because I am remarkably dense.) Kat is writing for a FF-reading audience, and it shows. If you've read fan fiction but you've never seen Due South, this is the place to start.

Frequently Asked Questions about Due South. This is a gen site that answers a lot of questions; there's even a very brief summary of each episode.

Real Due South. Another gen site with incredibly detailed information. Need a transcript of an episode? It's here. Need to know how to survive in the Northwest Territories? It's here. Want to know everything there is to know about Ray Vecchio's car (a 1971 Buick Riviera that Kowalski and Fraser destroy – accidentally – by setting it on fire and then driving it into Lake Michigan)? Yup, here again. You talk about obsessive, folks – this site is it.

If you don’t know the canon, this won't help much:

You can also try to survive with just my summary. I wouldn't recommend it.

-The Characters-

CONSTABLE BENTON FRASER, R.C.M.P. is a demigod. Seriously. Because no mere human could be so perfect and yet have such a sucky, sucky life; you have to be, like, the son of Zeus and a mortal woman so beautiful she was cursed by Aphrodite to look like a caribou to end up in Fraser's brown leather boots. He has a magnetic attraction for women, but never has sex with them. He has unusual intelligence, but his primary job function is "statue." He has heightened senses and he lives in Chicago. See what I mean about his life sucking in ways that smack of divine planning?

Anyway, he's a Mountie, which means every sex scene he's ever involved in will feature one of the following.
  • A detailed description of removing his Mountie suit, proving the writer did her research.
  • A careful avoidance of the whole Mountie-suit issue, proving the writer doesn't want to spend her time with weird belts and weird pieces of leather and weird underwear (which sort of makes you wonder what she's doing in FF, no?).
  • Benton Fraser off-duty, in jeans and a Henley shirt, proving that the writer doesn't have a Mountie-suit fetish. This is less common than you'd think. Real Mounties must live in constant fear of ravishment.
Fraser likes ice, prepositional phrases, men named Ray, herbal unguents, and queens.

DIEFENBAKER is, I suspect, not just a demigod, but an actual god - the god of sarcasm and inappropriate eating habits. (It should come as no surprise to anyone that he is my favorite character.) He's incarnated at the moment as an incredibly adorable deaf half-wolf, but he reads lips in five languages, just so you don't forget he's really divine. And he's more devious and manipulative than any human three-year-old, just so you don't forget he's also a canine.

RAY VECCHIO is not a god of any kind. He was a Chicago police detective and Fraser's first Ray until he decided he was more suited to the profession of Mafia clothes horse. Don't worry about him. We won't be dealing with FF involving him until the advanced course.

STANLEY RAYMOND KOWALSKI is not a god, although some DS fans will tell you otherwise. He's actually a litmus test. If he's called "Stanley" or especially "Stan" in FF, it's crappy FF (unless Vecchio is talking). He's also the world's least likely Chicago police detective and the world's most persuasive advertisement for hair gel. Kowalski likes dancing, candy, experimenting with his hair, working under the covers, and Mounties. Is anyone surprised that he regularly won "Most Gay-in-Canon Slash Character" every year until Lord of the Rings came out?

SERGEANT ROBERT FRASER, R.C.M.P. (DECEASED) has achieved every parent's dream: he's found a way to continue to interfere in his child's life from beyond the grave. He's just trying to help, but in the process he makes his son act like a lunatic. This is the essence of the parent-child relationship, as far as I can tell.

-The Plot-

Crimes happen. Ray, Fraser, and Diefenbaker strike out on the trail of the criminals. Disasters happen. Ray and Fraser are endangered in wildly bizarre ways; Diefenbaker rolls his eyes and mutters under his breath, wolf-style. Arrests happen. Ray and Fraser exchange manly embraces and go out for pizza; Diefenbaker makes sure he gets half. The end.

Look, I've never seen the show, OK? If you want to know the actual plot, you'll have to ask someone else. But fear not; you'll never need to know it to read the FF; in this fandom, the writers supply their own plots. Novel idea, is it not?

Where to start with Due South fanfiction:

With Fraser/Kowalski. (For the record, the other somewhat common pairings in this fandom are Fraser/Vecchio and Vecchio/Kowalski. F/V features a big nose and pretty much has to end unhappily; it is not recommended for beginners. V/K is, well, kinky, just for existing. And just as you should try basic sex before you get out the riding crop, the razor blades, and the shower attachments you can only find in internet stores, you should try F/K before you get out the Ray/Ray.)

To reduce confusion, I suggest you start with longer F/K set during the run of the series; this fandom has a lot of post-series stories, and many of them are excellent, but you should see how the characters were before you see where people are taking them after the end.

Where I Started: Broadway Hotel, American Way, and The Teeth of the Hydra, by Resonant. These were my first three stories in the fandom (and what a way to start it was; by the third story, I was ready to marry Resonant and Due South), and this is the order in which I read 'em – you might want to start with Hydra, actually. Three nice, plotty stories, some funny, some angsty, that totally introduce you to the joy that is Kowalski/Fraser and DS.

If You Want to Go Right to the Heart of the Fandom: Juggling Act, by speranza. For me, this story really sums up the fandom – it's got pathos, humor, improbable situations, and clowns. And masturbating birds, and anti-animal-rights terrorists, and...well, just read it. Which is what I always end up saying about the best stories in this fandom, and that's why this is the heart of DS for me.

If You Want to Go Right to the Therapy You'll Need If You Pick up Another Fandom: Eight Sessions, also by speranza. This story has enabled me to being more people into DS than any other, and I'm not one to argue with results. It has, again, the perfect balance of angst and humor (studies indicate this is approximately a 1:3 ratio, in case you're curious), and it features some of the best therapy sessions you'll ever, ever read.
Raven: Gromit reading by meraveninthewind on May 8th, 2004 10:54 pm (UTC)
Must add your post to my memories to aid future pimping. I have two friends in mind... :D

Thank you kindly.

(Those three stories by Resonant were my first dS stories, too.)
tried to eat the safe bananathefourthvine on May 8th, 2004 11:09 pm (UTC)
Good lord. The woman deserves an award: Fandom Pimp Extraordinaire. Or, um, perhaps we could find a tasteful wording. Queen of the Converters? No, that makes her sound like an electrical appliance. (Not entirely wrong, there, but...) The DS-Jumping-Off-Point Fic Writer? God, no.

My brain is clearly broken. Perhaps you can think of an appropriate title for her?

Aside: you have a Gromit icon and I am so jealous. Gromit! In icon form! I am in love. Well, I mean, I always was in love with Gromit, but now I'm in love with your icon, and also possibly with you. Because - Gromit icon! Oooo!
re W&G - raveninthewind on May 9th, 2004 11:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - raveninthewind on May 9th, 2004 11:46 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 9th, 2004 05:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
the upper echelons of mediocritythe_star_fish on May 9th, 2004 06:18 am (UTC)
I just want to mention that the first two seasons are (mostly) really excellent television, and I heartily recommend them to anyone, for the Fraser back-story, if nothing else. Vecchio is not my Ray-of-choice, but he was a good friend to Fraser, and shouldn't be dismissed lightly, IMO. Aukestrel's Coming to Terms is a story that shows him to good advantage, although it's set post-series.

(I started writing before I'd seen any of the show, and my early stories are chock-full of fanon, which makes me twitch now. Did you know there's an episode where Fraser says "What the hell" and almost has sex with a woman who he knows is engaged? In a sleazy motel, no less. Canon is full of surprises.)
nestra on May 9th, 2004 08:29 am (UTC)
Yes, yes, everyone should see the show! This is one of those cases where it's sort of the opposite of Sentinel -- Sentinel has good fic because the show was generally so crappy. dS manages to have excellent fic *and* be excellent at the same time.

The whole Victoria arc is nothing short of brilliant.
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 9th, 2004 09:54 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bluster on May 9th, 2004 12:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 9th, 2004 05:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bluster on May 9th, 2004 05:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 9th, 2004 08:02 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bluster on May 9th, 2004 08:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 10th, 2004 09:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bluster on May 10th, 2004 09:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 11th, 2004 08:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bluster on May 12th, 2004 10:04 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 12th, 2004 11:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bluster on May 13th, 2004 07:55 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - byob_kenobi on May 10th, 2004 09:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 11th, 2004 08:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 9th, 2004 09:30 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 9th, 2004 10:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 9th, 2004 05:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - the_star_fish on May 9th, 2004 05:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 9th, 2004 05:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
John Stamos Took It Too Far: underwearbrooklinegirl on May 9th, 2004 07:52 am (UTC)
This was wonderful! I love you for this. Fabulous stuff, you had me cracking up with the character descriptions (Ray Kowalski, Most Gay-in-Canon Slash Character, my god, yes), and - yes. Fantabulous job.

"American Way" by Resonant was the first DS fic I read. I feel so damn lucky for that. She's just utterly wonderful. And "Eight Sessions" is the Speranza story I re-read the most. I fucking love that fic.
tried to eat the safe bananathefourthvine on May 9th, 2004 09:50 am (UTC)
Thank you!

Really, Resonant appears to have seduced everyone to the DS side. (At this point, she could get me into any fandom. Seriously. It's only by the grace of god that she hasn't started writing in some horrible, horrible fandom by now, forcing me to come to terms with Winnie-the-Pooh FF or whatever.) And I also feel lucky for starting with her. For that, actually, and for the fact that speranza's were the next stories I read. Talk about starting out right, you know?
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 9th, 2004 05:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
A Certain Ms Uneslemslempike on May 9th, 2004 10:16 am (UTC)
I think the first DS story I ever read was Ray V. Although that seems to be the only one, everything I've read since has been Ray K.

One thing I find quite strange is that although Fraser's the main protagonist (in canon), yet I haven't come across any fic where he's the narrator. Lots of Ray K first person, some Fraser third person, though. Maybe it's because no-one knows what Fraser thinks. Except Diefenbaker.

I have the first season DVDs, sat down to watch the final disc last week (I haven't seen the Victoria eps yet) and it doesn't work on my player. Luckily amazon.ca are sending me a replacement set, but it's taking a while. I need my Due South fix NOW.
tried to eat the safe bananathefourthvine on May 9th, 2004 11:23 am (UTC)
Actually, I love first-person Fraser, even though it is, you're right, much rarer than first-person Ray (which I also love; I'm such the FF slut, I guess). I think authors are, overall, less comfortable using Fraser's voice, whether it's because he's Canadian, or because he's somewhat formal and pedantic, or because he's a freak (your theory).

Anyway, here are some stories with first-person Fraser:

A Box of Pictures, by Pearl-O. Warning: character death story. A good Fraser voice, and the single most touching, saddest dS story I've read. The last line is a killer.

Could, Would, Will, by Basingstoke. This is a short F/*V*k, and I really like the way she does Fraser's voice here.

For Now, by Estrella. I think this is an excellent use of Fraser's voice, right here. We get a real look inside Fraser's brain.

Four Virtues, by speranza. This is speranza showing us her auctorial dexterity; Fraser's is only one of the voices she uses here. And it's good, of course.

Housekeeping, by Resonant. This is Resonant's auctorial dexterity story; she flips back and forth between Fraser and Kowalski and makes it look easy.

Merry Go Round, by speranza. Again. This is one of the longest uses of Fraser's voice in first-person that I've seen.

Scrabble, by speranza. Again again. And this is the ultimate dexterity story, because she gives you both voices simultaneously for the entire story. Yow.

And, arg, I have more, but squidge.org is acting up and we have to go do the Mother's Day thing. Hope you enjoy these! Fraser's voice is worthy of our love, yes it is.
(no subject) - slemslempike on May 9th, 2004 11:33 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - imkalena on May 10th, 2004 08:55 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 10th, 2004 09:06 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Iphiginia Saberhagenfanofall on May 9th, 2004 10:22 am (UTC)
Oh, yay!
Okay, I've already mentioned to you once that I only read due South because you recommended it--that I too have never seen the television show. So this little resource you've got going here is v.v. helpful.

And I have to give you mad propz for bringing to mind Monty Python at the same time...
tried to eat the safe bananathefourthvine on May 9th, 2004 11:26 am (UTC)
Re: Oh, yay!
I was sort of wondering if anyone would notice the MP reference; I realized, after I posted this, that I'd pretty much sealed my status as a Great Big Geek by bringing Monty Python into a Livejournal post about fan fiction. Well, hell, I assume everyone who reads this LJ already knows I'm a geek. And you still love me, right? Right?

*silence* *crickets*

Oh, when will I learn to think before outing myself?
Re: Oh, yay! - fanofall on May 9th, 2004 11:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Oh, yay! - thefourthvine on May 9th, 2004 05:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Oh, yay! - fanofall on May 9th, 2004 07:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Oh, yay! - thefourthvine on May 10th, 2004 09:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Oh, yay! - fanofall on May 11th, 2004 08:30 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Oh, yay! - thefourthvine on May 11th, 2004 07:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Oh, yay! - fanofall on May 11th, 2004 08:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
Re: Oh, yay! - thefourthvine on May 9th, 2004 05:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Zebrazebra363 on May 10th, 2004 04:48 am (UTC)
Hello, arrived here via some assorted links from ds_flashfiction. Love your due South summary and really like your super-entertaining rec format! I hope it's OK to friend you so I can get a regular supply of this?
Zebrazebra363 on May 10th, 2004 04:58 am (UTC)
OK, just read your friending policy...it's done!
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 10th, 2004 10:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
Pouncer: Hopeful Fraserthepouncer on May 10th, 2004 04:23 pm (UTC)
I actually watched dS back in the day, when it aired on CBS, and then when the entire series finally aired on TNT, I saw the Ray K episodes. I wasn't seduced into the fanfiction until someone recommended "Eight Sessions", though. I read it and embarked upon a serious fling. I worked my way through every recommendation list I could find. All the stories you mention are excellent, but my One True Love in dS is Speranza's Chicago's Most Wanted. Something about this story fills me with unholy glee - the humor, the sexiness, the brilliance of Fraser. *rowr*
tried to eat the safe bananathefourthvine on May 10th, 2004 09:15 pm (UTC)
Ooo. I love "Chicago's Most Wanted," not the least because Fraser is so indubitably *Fraser*, even while he's on a major crime spree. I don't necessarily think it's the best story for beginners, 'cause you have to know how Fraser normally is to get the humor, but it is a fantastic read once you've read a couple other stories in the fandom.

Speranza just really *gets* Fraser. Or maybe it's that she writes him the way I like to think of him. Whichever, I love her for it.
wembleewemblee on May 12th, 2004 03:03 pm (UTC)
For someone that's never seen the canon, those character descriptions are pretty much bang-on. (See the canon! Seeee the canon!)

Also, F/RayV needn't end in tears. I started with F/RayV without incident or trauma and am now falling for F/RayK. Boy, I love this fandom.
tried to eat the safe bananathefourthvine on May 14th, 2004 05:10 am (UTC)
I guess the Vecchio/Fraser problem is just me. It's just that, even if the story has a happy ending, I can't forget that the relationship *can't*. Because that whole phone call and disappearance thing is enough of a blow if F and V are just close friends, but if they're lovers? Ouch. But I can forget the impending doom with other pairings (in other fandoms) that end badly in the canon; I don't know why I can't do it with V/F.
(no subject) - wemblee on May 14th, 2004 02:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 14th, 2004 06:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wemblee on May 16th, 2004 02:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 17th, 2004 10:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wemblee on May 18th, 2004 11:17 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 19th, 2004 01:36 am (UTC) (Expand)
Ilexa: dS *guh* -- rosesfadeilexa on May 12th, 2004 06:22 pm (UTC)
Oh, the joy you have brought to my shiny new fangirl heart. This is a fandom of woobies, and I, I am a sucker for a good woobie. Especially one with comic timing.

Look, I've never seen the show, OK?

I hadn't either! Well, okay I have *now*, but only because I fell in love with the fandom, and wanted to stare at Paul Gross in a uniform. Mmmm... I watched Aspen Extreme too many times for that man.

My apologies; I'm rambling. Thanks for the primer!
tried to eat the safe bananathefourthvine on May 14th, 2004 05:05 am (UTC)
Um...Aspen Extreme?

And, indeed, this is such a fandom of woobies that the fandom as a *whole* is basically just one giant woobie. Which is why we love it, right?
(no subject) - ilexa on May 15th, 2004 07:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on May 15th, 2004 09:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
resonant8 on May 12th, 2004 08:21 pm (UTC)
This is wildly cool. I laughed all the way through the description. And of course I appreciate the recs.

Let me add my voice to the millions saying "See the show!" It's not totally free from TV stupidity, but on the whole it's a very intelligent, complicated, funny, honest show. Totally worth seeing. (The RayV seasons are now available on DVD, too.)

And -- I feel like a real idiot asking this, but I don't remember killing any animals in "Hydra," and I don't think I can bear to read it over again so soon after doing the DVD. Refresh my memory?
tried to eat the safe bananathefourthvine on May 12th, 2004 11:01 pm (UTC)
Damn. I just re-read Hydra, and now *I* don't know why I put that, so I'm taking it out. (If you're curious, I think I screwed up when I originally read and rated the story; I combined the warnings for another story I was reading with Hydra's summary and other information.)

Anyway, sorry about that. And I'm glad you enjoyed the other parts of the post.

And, actually, I plan to be seeing the show quite soon. I have been ensnared in the Web of the Due South Pushers, and they are extremely persuasive. Also extremely nice. And that's a lethal combination, this sort of "attach with love" strategy they've got going on.

Hmmm. Now that I think about it, it's the sort of strategy Fraser would come up with (except that his would also include doing something remarkably dangerous). Does the show change the fans, or do they become fans 'cause they already have Canadian traits?
(no subject) - resonant8 on May 19th, 2004 08:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
nessreadernessreader on September 14th, 2006 06:05 pm (UTC)
Diefenbecker fic of great joy

you may have read this, but IN CASE you haven't:

Umm.. sending you a link is coals-to-Newcastle, but in the remote chance you haven't seen this, you ought to, given your Diefenbecker feelings. This is such a glorious Dief point of view story, it has one sequel done and another in the works..
Learn to Speak Canine

I apologise for spamming, but Learn to Speak Canine is a blissful story.