Ain’t love grand?
Well for the most part.
Granted in real life, it has its moments when real life rather rudely gets in the way, and instead of endless bouquets of roses, and chocolates flown from a small chocolatier in Paris, we get re-heated leftovers and a few M & Ms fished from back of the couch.
OK maybe it isn’t quite that bad but there’s no denying that keeping the passionate spirit of romance alive in between endless commutes, bill paying and Frank from accounts talking to you at length about his dental hygiene issues can be quite a challenge.
But not in TV.
No, even in the most dire of circumstances, love triumphs and is perfectly and beautifully expressed every time with the sort of words we dream of uttering and flowers straight from central casting.
Admittedly true love may be unfolding against a backdrop of ravenous zombies or invasive alien hordes but it somehow finds a way to express itself nonetheless so as a tribute to the indomitable spirit of “wuv, twu, wuv” (see above), I present to you my favourite sci-fi/fantasy couples and the reasons why I love them.
FRINGE: Olivia and Peter
These guys have gone through the wringer to find true love.
Initially thrown together when the FBI puts together a Fringe division to investigate weird, unexplainable goings-on – the show started off as a “mystery of the week” series before adopting a more serialised approach in its latter years – Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) and Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) saw each other as nothing more than colleagues, despite the undeniable spark between the two.
But over time as they investigated people who spontaneously developed cancer and others who morphed, without warning, into giant porcupine-like “advanced” humans, they grew closer and closer till finally the attraction they felt for each other overcame the significant barriers both had to intimacy with another member of the human race.
Not that it was smooth sailing from there.
Oh no, we’ll have none of that happily ever after stuff … well at least not straight away.
They withstood Peter being erased from the timeline, Olivia dealing with the after effects of being pumped full of a nootropic (neuro-enhancing) drug Cortexiphan, having a daughter and losing her when the Observers invade in 2016, and being encased in amber for 20 years till 2036 when their now-grown daughter Etta frees them, along with Peter’s father, Walter (John Noble).
It’s an epic, touching, against-all-odds love story and thanks to some very intelligent writing by the show’s creative team, there is a raw humanity, believability and genuine intimacy to the couple’s relationship which is not easy when you’re competing for attention with homicidal maniacs with delusions glory (I am looking at you Dr Robert Jones), threats from alternate universes, and weird supernatural-esque manifestations.
FALLING SKIES: Tom Mason and Anne Glass
Right so everything you know, and almost everyone you know has been blasted to kingdom come by a massive invading alien force that arrived on Earth with no warning and leaves those that survive running for their life.
The odds are that the last thing you would contemplate embarking on is a grand love affair when it’s all you can do to stay alive, and that’s why it takes quite some time for the second-in-charge of the 2nd Massachusetts Militia Regiment, Tom Mason (Noah Wylie) who lost his wife in the initial wave of attacks, and Anne Glass (Moon Bloodgood) who suffered the loss of her husband and son at the same time, to start making googly eyes at each other and admit there is something more than respect for each other’s abilities between them.
But keeping a relationship alive in the midst of an apocalypse is never going to be an easy proposition but somehow these two manage it and thankfully not in a way that is mawkish or forced, but as real and hesitant as any relationship birthed under such extreme circumstances would be.
The fact that they now have each other seems to give both of them strength and is as good a sign as any that love can even survive an apocalypse.
EUREKA: Sheriff Jack Carter and Dr. Allison Blake
This is one relationship that we waited a long time to see come to fruition.
While it’s understandable that uniting the two main characters in a show is fraught with risk, since often audiences switch off when the will-they-won’t-they dynamic is finally played out – Moonlighting is a legendary example of not getting your two leads together too quickly – I begin to honestly wonder if they would ever get together.
If it wasn’t other relationships, primarily Allison’s (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) husband, Nathan Stark (Ed Quinn), it was changed timelines, emotional uncertainty, being possessed by Beverly Barlowe (Debrah Farentino), artificial computer-generated realities, or all manner of crises which seemed to plague Eureka like there was no tomorrow.
But finally the two lovebirds, who shared a very obvious in the first episode, and spent the following four or so seasons pretending it was nothing – um, guys, it was definitely something – got together, made a family of their various members of their two broods, and in the final episode, “Just Another Day”, discover they are having a baby of their own.
The thing that I love about their relationship is that because they experienced all manner of weird and unusual things together – much like Peter and Olivia in Fringe – they totally “got” each other and neither of them had to explain to the other why something mattered or why a particular course of action must be followed.
They were, after all, perfect for each other and the loveliest part of the final episode was watching get to ride off into the metaphorical sunset together.
THE PRINCESS BRIDE: Princess Buttercup & Wesley
“As you wish.”
With just a few words, Wesley, who has been dismissed by Princess Buttercup up to that point as just a simple farm boy, confirms himself as the man of her dreams, and begins a devoted, caring relationship that transcends time, carnivorous fish, hired mercenaries, and her own soon-to-be-tempered-by-adversity sense of entitlement.
In a movie that manages the fare feat of affectionately parodying fairy tales while being one, with standout performances by our two deeply-in-love protagonists and Billy Crystal, Mandy Patinkin and a host of others, their love story is the emotional core, the thing that binds all the fantastical adventures, memorable quips and extraordinary creatures together in one beguiling whole.
The loveliest part of the whole journey with these two lovebirds is watching Wesley selfless devotion transform the sometimes rude and uppity Princess Buttercup till she is as selflessly devoted as the man who loves across seas, mountains and fiery swamps.
If ever a relationship was going to induce sigh-inducing “awwws” of delight, it’s this one … and it does.
FIREFLY: Zoe and Wash
Zoe and Wash are part of Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds’ (Nathan Fillion) devoted crew of nine on board the good spaceship Serenity, and it’s this devotion that sees them zipping like madmen (and women) across the galaxy fighting those up to no good, which includes everyone from criminals to the dictatorial ruling Alliance forces, and doing their best to avoid the nightmarish flesh-eating Reavers.
It is a devotion that is mirrored in the fierce and uncompromising love they have for each other, which sees them overcome all manner of obstacles with playful delight, and an unquestioning sense of trust in each other’s impressive abilities.
It is the ultimate partnership, and what underlies it is one of the strongest, most robust friendships that I have had the pleasure to see unfold in any TV series.
And in only 13 episodes and a movie, Serenity.
The only sad part of their whole gloriously madcap, deeply felt and strong-as-a-rock relationship is that it ends in such truly tragic circumstances.
But what a wild, heartwarming and delightful ride while it lasts!
* Who are your favourite sic-fi fantasy couples? Why do you like them so?