due South

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Name: due South
Abbreviation(s): dS, DS
Creator: Paul Haggis
Date(s): 1994-1999
Medium: Television series
Country of Origin: Canada
External Links: Due South Fiction Archive
Due Slash
DS Flashfiction
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Contents

due South is a Canadian comedy-drama produced by Alliance Communications (later part of Alliance Atlantis, and subsequently sold to Echo Bridge Entertainment) that aired from 1994 to 1999.[1]

Set mostly in Chicago, the show follows the adventures of fictional RCMP officer Constable Benton Fraser (Paul Gross) and his American friends and partners, Detectives Ray Vecchio (David Marciano) and Ray Kowalski (Callum Keith Rennie) of the Chicago Police Department. Although Fraser has no official standing as law enforcement in Chicago, the series includes many buddy cop show elements.

I first came to Chicago on the trail of the killers of my father, and for reasons that don't need exploring at this juncture, I've remained, attached as liaison with the Canadian Consulate.--Benton Fraser, various episodes

Characters

Diefenbaker, the cute one in the middle, cover of The Last of a Breed

Marciano appeared in the first two seasons. After the show was canceled in 1996 and then restarted again, he was unable to return (two explanations have been reported in the media: money or a prior commitment)[2][3] so Callum Keith Rennie was hired to replace him. Within the narrative, the explanation given for the change was that Ray Kowalski went undercover as Ray Vecchio while Ray Vecchio went undercover with the Mafia. The fact that the two actors looked nothing alike was a running joke on the show.

Other significant characters include Lieutenant Harding Welsh (the Rays' boss at the 2-7 police station); Frannie Vecchio (Ray Vecchio's sister); Detectives Jack Huey, Thomas Dewey, and Louis Gardino (the "duck boys"); Elaine Besbriss (the 2-7's civilian aide in seasons one and two); Mort (the 2-7's forensic specialist in seasons three and four); Stella Kowalski (Ray K's ex-wife); Inspector Meg Thatcher (Fraser's boss at the Canadian consulate from season two onward); Constable Turnbull (Fraser's hapless coworker from season two onward); Sergeant Buck Frobisher (Fraser's father's partner); Bob Fraser (the ghost of Fraser's father, a.k.a. Dead!Bob); and Diefenbaker (Fraser's pet half-wolf).

One of the more unusual elements of the show is the casual depiction of Fraser and Ray Vecchio communicating with the ghosts of their respective dead fathers. For this reason, due South is often described as an example of magical realism.[4]

The show ends with Fraser and Ray Kowalski riding off into the sunrise together on a dog sled to look for the Hand of Franklin. The character resolutions in the series finale have provided much fanfic fodder.

due South Fandom

cover of RCW 139, a Due South convention program

In 1995, there was just one main dS mailing list, for gen fans, slash fans, and people who'd never heard of the word 'zine' before. In May, slash fans on the list were amazed to watch a thread evolve talking about how "close" Ray and Fraser were, and how much they clearly loved each other. The thread hovered on the edge of slash for days, but never quite crossed over. None of the slash fans outed themselves.

Straddling Two Mediums: Zines and Online

due South was one of the first fandoms to navigate the waters of the internet. The editor of the zines Two and Twogether included links to online reviews in the zines' LoC, one of the first to do so as movies_michelle recalls:

Due South really was the fandom that straddled the internet and old-style fandom. It wasn't even close to being my first zine fandom, but I think it might classify as my last truly zine-based fandom, as it was the last one where most of the stories--at least for Fraser/RayV--were in zines. Fraser/RayK was always more online. [5]

Arduinna agrees:

You know, I'd never consciously thought about the fact that so much Fraser/RayV fanfic was in zines, but you're absolutely right - not just DS zines but mm zines. And tons of it never made it online, woe. [5]

On Mailing Lists

due South became a fandom almost immediately after the show debuted in 1994. Fan activity originated on mailing lists and in zines. The first due South discussion list was DSOUTH-L, founded by LJC December 20, 1994. Because employees of the show participated on this list, the rules against posting fiction and discussing story ideas on list were strictly enforced, and a companion fiction list was created.

In 1996, ownership of the fiction list fell into the hands of a deeply religious list owner, who objected to stories that contained swearing, pre-marital sex, taking the Lord's name in vain, and any slash content, even of a G-rated nature. This inspired a series of stories which contained these elements, the DS Religious Wars of '96[6].

Eventually, a request was sent out by fans to James Walkswithwind -- who had access to a private server, crucial in those days -- for lists with more open-minded policies. James responded with the creation of two mailing lists, DIEF, for gen and PG-rated het or slash, and DSX, for adult fiction and slash. (This was a departure from the usual practice of having g- through x-rated slash on slash lists and g- through x-rated gen and het on non-slash lists.) Both lists moved first to egroups and then to yahoogroups and are still in existence, though the traffic is greatly reduced from their heyday. Speranza is currently the listadmin on both lists.

In December 1998, a few fans started a mailing list (DSVS-L) dedicated to writing a virtual fourth season, known as DSVS. There was an in-depth discussion for four or five months as the group decided on their roles (such as producer, writer, continuity editor, character editor), the main plot arcs, individual episode ideas and who would write them, whether to stick to COTW canon, how to avoid confusion between the two Rays, which characters to bring back etc. etc. [7] Despite the thorough plan and exciting ideas, as far as can be discerned, the project never actually got off the ground, although there were many more fanfics written post-COTW, including at least one virtual season[8].

Red Suits You was a "flame/otter-free zone" list, one of the few mailing lists/forums that existed in 1999 that didn't show partisanship and advocated tolerance.[9] In contrast the Ray Vecchio mailing list Two Axes was highly partisan in favor of the Fraser/Vecchio pairing. See also The Ray Wars.

The original due South fiction list was closed down by the owner as a result of the religious debate, but was recreated in the form of DSFICT-L by a new owner. A fairly comprehensive and up-to-date list of due South related mailing lists may be found at William & Elyse's Due South Page.

Femslash found a home in dS; in 1999, Gilda Lily was one of the genre's most prolific contributors with the Frannie/Elaine pairing.[10].

After Prospect-L's success as a fanfic discussion list in Sentinel fandom Chinook was created in 2000 on a similar model for open discussion of Due South fanfic.

Other mailing lists

On Livejournal

One of the earliest community Livejournals for due South (very possibly the first) was the Due South Reporter, which was founded by Speranza in 2002. Because the fandom was still feeling the effects of The Ray Wars, the community was created anonymously, and reporters were recruited from the various warring mailing lists to collect fanfiction links and fannish news from all parts of the fandom: Ray V, Ray K, het, gen, and other.

The DS Reporter disbanded in 2004, by which time a whole host of other integrated LJ communities had been formed, including DS Discourse and DS Flashfiction in 2003 and DS Noticeboard in 2004. DS Discourse is a discussion-focused community whose inaugural entry welcomed "all persuasions, from gen to het to slash. All pairings welcome. Any discussion is welcome as long as it pertains to the show." Though not as active as it once was, there are still posts made at the community from time to time. DS Flashfiction, now co-moderated by china shop, Sageness, Speranza and Renenet, is still an active flashfiction challenge community in the fandom, and often seems to serve as a less-intimidating entry point for new writers because of its mandated theme and (often flouted) 1000 word limit. DS Noticeboard is a community bulletin board for announcements concerning everything from good sales on boxed sets of the series' episodes to newly-posted fanfiction, vids or other fanworks. Now co-moderated by Speranza and Sageness, it is still a central part of the daily operation of the fandom, and has served as a model for similar Livejournal communities in SGA and other fandoms.

Since these first steps, due South's LJ presence has continued to expand. A complete list of LJ communities is posted on newbieguide. It may be useful to note that the atmosphere of the fandom has changed since the Ray Wars took place. Although there are still many Fraser/Vecchio and Fraser/Kowalski shippers, there is less hostility between the two groups -- in fact the fandom is currently renowned for its congeniality and its friendliness to newbies -- and it's now not uncommon for people to "swing both Rays" or admit to an OT3.

On the Web

One of the earliest and largest resources on the web for due South fandom is William and Elyse's Due South page, last updated in October 2009. The site's mailing list included notifications of upcoming TV appearances of due South actors, long after the show went off air.

due South had a substantial presence on GeoCities, which was shut down in October 2009. See List of GeoCities Fansites for a list of due South fansites hosted on the service.

See also Category:Due South Websites.

Archives

The fandom has several longstanding archives.

The oldest is the Due South Archive, known informally as the DSA or Hexwood from its old location at hexwood.org. The DSA has since moved to squidge.org, and is consequently known to some as Ex-wood. DSA accepts all Due South fiction: slash, het, and gen. It has had at least eight archivists, including: A.C. Chapin (1994), Amanda Cook (1994-1995), Seah (1995 - 1998), Elaine Walker (1998 - 1999), Anagi (1999 - 2000), Nord (2000 - 2001), Merry Lynne (2001- 2003), and Speranza (2003 - ongoing).

Due Slash is, at its name suggests, a slash-only fan fiction archive. It is run by ZorroRojo, Robin Serrano, AuKestrel, and Kelingtyn.

Other archives have included Bindlestitch, Two Axes (a Fraser/Vecchio specific archive), Fraser's Library, and Racine Street.

Mitch Hudson has maintained an in-depth list of due South resources since the early days of the fandom. The site was last updated in 2008. However, if you're looking for older due South links, plug the website into the WayBack Machine.

Red Ships Green Ships is home to slash that "revolves around the Mountie and his third-season partner".

Notable Zines

A large list of zines can be found at the Due South fanzines page.

Morgan Dawn is maintaining a list of fanzines that feature Fraser and Ray Vecchio.

Bast is maintaining a list of fanzines that feature Fraser and Ray Kowalski.

A sample list of fanzines

See also Category:Due South Zines and Category:Due South Slash Zines.

Vids

With its gorgeous colors and interesting filming style, DS has historically been a popular fandom for vidding, though it lagged for a while during the move from VCR to computer vidding because of the relatively late release of DVDs for the show.[11]

dS Vid timeline

  1. The initial dS vids were gen, or Fraser/RayV, and generally very upbeat. Example: Don't Put It In Your Mouth.
  2. Then vids that explained what happened to break them up arrived on the scene. Example: Full of Grace -- described by Sandy Herrold as "one of the most beautiful, heartwrenching vids I have ever seen."
  3. Then, the happy Fraser/RayK vids started to appear. Examples: The Rest (Will Take Care of Itself), etc.
  4. Next, epic Fraser/RayK vids, many of which ended with the final shot from Call of the Wild. Example: Wonder of Birds by Laura Shapiro and Morgan Dawn.
  5. Finally, an entire genre of both slash and gen vids where absolutely equality of Rays is created: every clip of RayV would be balanced by a clip of RayK. Example: Istanbul (Not Constantinople) by Alesen.

Notable dS Vids

Here is a non-exclusive list of notable dS vids, in no particular order. Vids beloved by fans of a particular pairing or character are also enumerated on the pertinent subpages.

Where to find dS vids

The "Ray Wars"

Even before Ray Vecchio's part was recast in 1997, fans were already apprehensive. After it became known that Paul Gross was going to be producing the later seasons, he said in an interview, he didn't know how to write Ray, and that phrase was repeated all over fandom. Other repeated phrases by fans at the time, "the first 2 seasons will always be canon" and "all we can do is wait and see." Some fans were worried that Dief would also be replaced by a new dog -- some Ray Vecchio fans took this as an insult, that given the possibility of one of the LEADs being replaced, some fans would waste time worrying about the dog.

The recasting of Ray Vecchio led to the infamous Ray Wars between fans of the first and second Ray, as exemplified by the division of mailing lists either declaring that they were a fandom-neutral zone (such as RedSuitsYou on Yahoo!Groups) or that they supported one character over the other. (sources?) These divisions extended to slash pairings, so Ray Vecchio/Ray Kowalski was considered quite shocking when the first authors began writing it in late 1999/early 2000, and Fraser/Kowalski/Vecchio was sufficiently inconceivable at the time that it's not even an available pairing option in the DSA.

Resources

Notes

  1. See "Due South" (1994) and "Due South" (1997) on IMDb
  2. Johnson, Brian D. Article in MacLean's, 13 October 1997. Republished in The Canadian Encyclopedia Historica. (Accessed October 11, 2008). The article states, "This season, says Marciano, Alliance offered to hire him back with a 40-per-cent pay cut, which he took as a none-too-subtle suggestion that he was not wanted."
  3. In Ride Forever, the British due South making-of documentary, Marciano said that he had already signed a contract when he received the offer to return to the show. See Ride Forever entry on IMDB.com. (Accessed October 11, 2008)
  4. For example, see TV Tropes' Magic Realism entry.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Comment thread started by movies_michelle in Arduinna's post the twisty paths of fandom. Comments posted 11 April 2010. (Accessed 14 May 2011.)
  6. Discussion in the livejournal of taraljc, referencing a story posted in May 1996 in direct reaction to the religious war. Posted March 15, 2009. Accessed March 15, 2009.
  7. From DSVS Writer's Page, published 1999 on Geocities Tuktoyuktuk Library (Accessed 4 March 2011 using Wayback Machine)
  8. From Due South Slash Virtual Season, published 2001 on Fortune City (Accessed 4 March 2011 using Wayback Machine)
  9. from list email reminder dated September 9, 1999
  10. Email archive from DSX list, accessed November 13, 2008
  11. TV Shows on DVD lists the Canadian release dates for the DVDs: the first season in November 2002, the second season in August 2003, the third season in September 2004, and the fourth season in September 2005. Amazon.com lists November 11, 2005, as the American release date for season three (actually season three and four combined). TV Shows on DVD also mentions the compression issues that resulted in poor image quality on the American DVDs. For an example of disgruntled, would-be DVD-purchasers, see Due South Season 3 Delayed again!, March 18, 2004. Thread posted on alt.tv.due-south. (Accessed 28 October 2008)
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