It’s the “You and your timing!” edition. We’ll just give the Farscape fans who got that reference a moment to wipe their eyes. And by Farscape fans I also mean me. Everyone better? Aces. Right then! This week we’re looking at couples in genre fiction. The double acts whose banter, bickering and romantic tension have launched a thousand ’ships, only a few of which have been a bit scary and weird. So pucker up, because you complete us, as the Blogbusters answer this week’s question:
Who is your favourite genre fiction couple?
Narin Bahar: My favourite genre couple is Firefly‘s Wash and Zoe. Let’s face it, the Whedonverse is packed with strong women, and thus couples that are more than the sum of their pouty, broody, perky parts. But even on that basis, Zoe and Wash stand out. She’s kick-ass, he has a love of Hawaiian shirts and plastic dinosaurs, and we never really got to grips with how they ended up together, barring an intriguing hint that something about him “bothered” her when they first met. But their relationship is multifaceted – ranging from bickering to loving, lusty to thrilling heroics, peppered with warmth and wry looks. It’s just wonderful and made all the more memorable for how broad it feels for something fleshed out in so few episodes.
Stacey Whittle: One of my most favourite genre couples is probably Elena Michaels and Clayton Danvers from the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong. They are not a “perfect” couple; they have some awful traits – both of them but especially Clay – but this makes them more real. Well, as “more real” as a werewolf couple can get! I am a huge fan of all of the books in this (sadly ending with the next book) series it’s been a wonderful ride. I hope it goes out with a huge bang, I really do. (Ooo-er, missus – ed.)
Another couple I am very fond of is (starts welling up) Zoe and Wash from Firefly. There is a fantastic episode when Mal and Wash are kidnapped and Zoe has to choose between them. The immediacy of her choice is both hilarious and heartwarming. I love those two.
And probably my most favourite two couples – who are both a “couple” in the way Eric and Ernie are a couple, and both sets are from the Discworld by Terry Pratchett – are Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax and Nobby Nobbs and Fred Colon. I love these characters more than I can tell you and both sets always work better when together.
Aw I’m feeling all sentimental now I am!
Actually, come to think of it, my list of non-romantic genre couples I adore goes on and on and I would be remiss not to mention my favourite of all time – Londo and G’Kar from Babylon 5. I know, I know they aren’t a “couple” couple but they are a double act; very much so, and though possibly I am pushing the couple boundary c’mon all you B5 fans think of this couple. I betcha you smile.
Steven Ellis: My other half immediately said, “Zoë and Wash!” when I read this week’s question out loud. Maybe she’s right. A fundamental part of drama, even sci-fi, is the will they/won’t they aspect of male and female lead characters or ensemble members. Zoë and Wash had the distinction of already being a happy married couple, and being a pretty normal undramatic couple at that, which does make them relatively unusual. Who knows whether trouble and strife would have come their way had their show lasted longer. Either way, my pick aren’t Zoë and Wash. They both need to be alive for them to be a couple don’t they?
Most main character romantic pairings in shows begin and develop as the shows progresses, some of them taking years and years to actually get anywhere and I think my pick this week is going to be one of those. My pick are John Crichton and Aeryn Sun from Farscape. God knows the path to true love and happiness in TV is never easy but these two were put through the ringer more than most. From enemies to uneasy allies and eventually friends these two love birds had an inordinate amount of obstacles put in their path not least of which were them both dying, one of them being cloned, being reduced to crystals, meddling in-laws and being caught slap bang in the middle of more wars, battles and skirmishes than is normally healthy for any fledgling relationship.
I have no big reason for picking them over any of the other myriad couples in sci-fi. I just think that for a TV show as bat’s-arse crazy as Farscape they needed a bat’s-arse crazy couple and I think in John and Aeryn they got it. They were a mad and crazy couple in a mad and crazy universe and they just gelled so well. They fought for each other, they worked well together, they played well together and I just like the way the two of them looked together. Does a choice have to be any more complex than that? Nah… Not when love is on the line.
Hmmm, speaking of love… Maybe I’ll change my pick to Luke and Leia. That crazy couple never stood a chance did they? The poor kids.
Laura McConnell: A lot of couples have rocked my boat through the years. However, I’m more of a fan of what I call “friendship plus” than true romantic involvement. I enjoy those couples who are clearly more than friends, probably more than family, but not lovers. Those pairings that defy easy definition. It’s like Chris Carter said in the earlier days of The X-Files: “Scully loves Mulder, and Mulder loves Scully, it’s a wonderful romance. It’s just not a sexual romance; it’s not a physical romance.”
But I wanted to answer this question with a pairing that is an actual pair, and so I seriously considered John and Aeryn from Farscape. But in the end, I have to go with my only OTP (that’s one true pairing for the uninitiated). And that’s Snake-Eyes and Scarlett from the Marvel comics G.I. Joe line. I could go on and on about why, but suffice to say I grinned like a lunatic when that particular comics line was directly continued by IDW in 2010 and Duke went to collect Snake-Eyes and Scarlett from that cabin the woods – just like Larry Hama said way back in 1992.
Troo Topham: Traditionally, romance isn’t something our genre handles well. “The love Interest” tends to be a fairly shallow character thrown in to put boobs on the poster/cover and give the lead that extra “masculinity” of being able to catch any woman who so much as looks at him. Even between Han and Leia, Leia is largely remembered among fans for the slave-girl costume. In spite of her theoretically being as strong in the Force as Luke, and occasionally wielding a blaster, she is little more than a plot device throughout the entire trilogy.
I’m torn, then, between two couples, and both are from comics.
Firstly, Brian Braddock (Captain Britain) and Meggan Pucenau (erm, Captain Britain… look we can’t explain the whole history here, this is the Marvel universe we’re talking about). Meggan’s appearance as a beautiful sex-object was entirely down to her own naiveté and overwhelming desire to please Brian. In return, he treated her abominably. The portrayal of an abusive relationship was extremely accurate, and surprisingly forward for a comic which ran through the ’70s and ’80s. When Meggan eventually comes into her own and gains confidence and maturity, it is she who helps Brian also mature and grow beyond his alcoholism. For a character who appears weak in many regards, Meggan is always the stronger of the couple.
Secondly, Apollo and Midnighter. Like Brian and Meggan, Apollo and Midnighter are two very human characters. In spite of all the superpowers, their relationship is strong because of who they are as people, not what wazzy powers they have. There’s none of the stereotypical approach to relationships (gay or otherwise) where one partner has to be the winner, the “man”, the dominant half. They are a realistic couple who are very much in love, and who would do (and have done) Very Bad Things to anyone who hurt them.
John Cooper: Sapphire and Steel would be my first choice but technically they aren’t a couple, just elements in human form. Instead I’ll go for something even less conventional, Nathan Spring (David Calder) and Box in Star Cops. They aren’t a normal couple either, but were awesome. The chief of Star Cops and his small black box of flashing LEDs, harbouring a well-spoken artificial intelligence (also voiced by Calder) were to all intents and purposes a married couple. Nathan Spring was a man out of time, a bit of a loner in the technologically-advanced the word around him. He didn’t easily warm to others and an old school copper, always observing, never really participating, and was particularly distrustful of computers. Paradoxically he had Box and would speak to it often at the end of episodes about the kind of stuff that computers are obviously really good at answering like why am I so grumpy? What do women want? And why do people do bad things?
For years I wanted my own black talking box for such moral dilemmas. It’s just a shame the show was never popular enough to spin into merchandise or aimed at younger viewers, as it would have been a shoo-in for a Blue Peter DIY piece. A box with lights on it. Hmmm. Excuse me while I get some cardboard, paint, and a pair of scissors.
Dave Golder: Tempted to say Angel and Spike (or their current avatars Eric and Bill) but in all seriousness it’s Chuck and Sarah. Chuck managed to prove that the rule about “shows go downhill when the will-they?/won’t-they? get together” can be broken. The show actually improved the closer Chuck and Sarah became. And they were officially together over two seasons. Okay, it’s a wish fulfilment thing – the geek gets the babe – but honestly, they were just so adorable together.
Alasdair Stuart: I’m going for comics too, specifically DC’s original power couple: Lois and Clark. This is for a few reasons, not the least of which is that I identify with Clark a fair bit. I’m a tall, softly spoken, country boy turned journalist and so’s he; and no, I didn’t arrive on Earth in a capsule that slammed into the Manx countryside. I checked. Twice.
Lois and Clark work for me because they’re a double act, one part His Girl Friday, one part Woodward and Bernstein and one part a gender-reversed Han and Leia. They banter and argue and mess with each other in a tremendously affectionate way which is huge fun to watch. They’re even better when they become a couple and, to my mind, the definitive Lois and Clark stuff happens in the Warren Ellis-scripted “New Maps Of Hell”. It’s a JLA story and Ellis, with his snarky dialogue and cheerfully dour worldview clearly has massive fun writing the news room scenes. The panel of Lois smiling and saying, “Superman’s wife, Lois Lane, in…stand back honey! I’ve got this one!” used to be me stuck to my desk and really should be again. Likewise, Bryan Q Miller, when DC editorial aren’t arbitrarily swapping out Nightwings to mess with him, does great work with them in the excellent SmallvilleSeason 11 digital comic.
And yes, I know they’re not a couple at the moment and probably won’t be for some time. But here’s the thing: I still remember being loaned the issue where they got married and Superman asks how he can possibly go on honeymoon. Batman replies not to worry, Metropolis is defended and the entire splash page that follows is the sky above them filled with the DC universe’s finest. That show of friendship, of loyalty, was a beautiful testament to exactly how respected they were. Plus, the big guy catches a break and I always like it when that happens.
So there you go. Those are the couples whose ships we ride on. Sort of. Anyway! Next week we’re taking a subtly related tack once again as we look at the other type of couple in genre fiction:
Which is your favourite hero/villain rivalry?
Lex and Superman? Batman and the Joker? The Doctor and the Daleks? John Winchester and everyone he ever met ever? Join us next week as we answer the question and remember, if you have danced with the devil in the pale moonlight, at least make sure you danced a rumba. That boy’s got moves. See you in seven.