Spoilers: slight season 3 & 4
Who are these people?:
(While his first name was never actually used on the show, Renfield came from a pre-shooting script and is accepted as the character's first name.) Constable Turnbull works at the Canadian Consulate with Constable Benton Fraser, the show's main character. His first appearance was in the show's second season episode Bird in the Hand. He was represented as a rather simple, goofy character that is big on conspiracies and a bit accident prone. Turnbull didn't become one of the show's regulars until seasons 3 & 4, after the show had come back from cancellation and changed a bit.
His character was expanded in these seasons, revealing that he's a bit of a home body. He loves to cook and clean. He likes kids and is a huge country music fan. He faces every situation with over enthusiastic gusto, whether it be cleaning the Consulate or helping Inspector Thatcher in more normal Mountie work.
Turnbull is played by Dean McDermott.
Stanley Raymond Kowalski-
Ray is the second detective to work with the show's main character in seasons 3 & 4. Ray is a Chicago cop with a fierce exterior, but a rather soft interior. He may talk like a tough guy, but Ray is surprisingly sensitive. When he's introduced, we find that he's just come out of a difficult divorce from his wife Stella. Ray takes the undercover job of impersonating the original Detective Ray Vecchio to get away from all that. He confuses Fraser at first, but eventually the two become close friends and great partners.
Ray loves dancing, old cars, and chess. He has a quick mouth and sometimes has the tendency to use the wrong word, though Fraser usually corrects him. Ray is the intuitive one of the pair and often has wild hunches that turn out to be right. He's a good balance for the more logical Fraser. Oh, and don't call him Stanley. He hates that.
Ray is played by Callum Keith Rennie.
Fraser is the show's main character. Due South is all about Fraser's adventures in Chicago, having come from the wilds of the Northwest Territories in Canada. Fraser (because he rarely ever goes by his first name) uses his wilderness skills that he has learned from the Inuit to capture the big city bad guys. He's a first rate tracker along with his deaf half-wolf Diefenbaker.
Fraser is reserved, logical, and polite. He's always helpful and generally gets his way by being almost obnoxiously nice. While he is a handsome man, he's quite uncomfortable with the many advances he receives from the women of Chicago. Fraser can at times be a bit broody. He's had a hard life no thanks to his dead father, who has stuck around as a ghost that only Fraser can see.
Fraser is played by Paul Gross.
Frannie is the sister of Fraser's first partner Ray Vecchio. She has been on the show in one capacity or another since the beginning. Originally, she was just Ray's goofy sister that had the hots for Fraser. In seasons 3 & 4 she became the civilian aide at the police station. Frannie's one goal is to make Fraser fall in love with her. She's quite forward and generally makes Fraser uncomfortable.
Frannie is sassy and a bit scheming. She has a smart mouth and holds her own with the cops at the precinct. She has a quirky habit of getting cop terminology wrong, and when corrected doesn't seem to care that she got it wrong in the first place. While Frannie may seem a bit hard, she has a big heart.
Frannie is played by Ramona Milano.
Eeny Meany Miny Moe:
Turnbull shipping can be a bit difficult because he has a small part on the show and his interactions are limited. Mostly, his screen time is with Inspector Thatcher which for some reason he is never paired with in fan fiction. The small part and limited interaction makes Turnbull a rather wide open character as far as pairings go. The three most common pairings are Turnbull/Kowalski, Turnbull/Fraser, and Turnbull/Frannie.
Turnbull/Kowalski has most of its episode basis set in the season three episode Asylum. In the episode, Ray is trapped in the Consulate with Turnbull while Fraser tries to prove his innocence in a homicide case. Ray and Turnbull don't really get along in the episode and almost come to blows over the Canadian sport of curling, which Ray insults. Later, Ray borrows Turnbull's uniform to slip out of the Consulate unnoticed. This leaves poor Turnbull in his underwear, so you can definitely say he's the kind of guy that will literally give you the shirt off his back! The grumbling, insults, and semi-nakedness have some good slashy subtext, but are often over looked because of the subtext focus on Kowalski and Fraser. Still, there are several examples of Turnbull/Kowalski stories set during or after Asylum. There are other episodes where the two are around each other, but this episode is where they have the most interaction.
This pairing is probably the most common one for Turnbull. Though he and Kowalski didn't share much screen time, there is a strong interest in seeing these two end up together whether it be love or just PWP. Kowalski is a good character foil for the strange Canadians and that is partly why the show works so well in seasons three and four. This connection applies not only to Fraser, but to Turnbull too. I think that's why Turnbull/Kowalski has an appeal to writers. I know it certainly appeals to me. Where Turnbull is flighty, Ray is practical. They work well off of each other.
Turnbull/Fraser almost seems like an obvious pairing. They work at the Consulate together and have a lot of things in common. Turnbull admires Fraser and is somewhat in awe of him. In the season two episode Bird in the Hand, where Turnbull is introduced, he helps out by following Fraser's orders to the letter, and ends up looking a bit silly. In Mountie on the Bounty when Fraser and Kowalski go off on an adventure without telling their superiors, Turnbull gets very concerned. Later, he even goes so far as to get in trouble with Inspector Thatcher to protect Fraser's interests (Hunting Season). In Asylum this exchange occurs:
Turnbull: Sir? Your presence.
Ray: Your presence? What are you, like a king or something?
Fraser: To Turnbull, yes.
Turnbull's willingness to be subservient to Fraser leads more often to PWPs than to long epic fics, but it's easy to see why people would think that Fraser and Turnbull go together. I guess no one else understands a weird Canadian like another weird Canadian.
Turnbull/Frannie is probably the only canon pairing for Turnbull. It is based on the season four episode Mountie Sings the Blues. In the episode, we discover that Turnbull is a rather rabid country music fan. Frannie makes a bet with some of the other detectives at the station that requires country music knowledge so she enlists Turnbull's help. Turnbull sees this as an opportunity to woo the lovely Vecchio. He whips up an intimate candle lit lunch for two at the station much to Frannie's surprise.
Turnbull: Do you like poetry, Miss Vecchio? [Willie Nelson song 'You Were Always on My Mind' is playing in the background]
Francesca: Poetry? Yeah, yeah, I like poetry. "We are the hollow man. We are...the fulfilled guys." Yeah, I love poetry.
Turnbull: Oh, I'm glad. I'm so very glad. Because you see country music is the poetry of the people - unaffected - heartfelt. It has great strength and - and beauty. And if you love the tender muscle of the English language, you have to love a man for simply saying [in unison with Willie Nelson] - you are always on my mind.
Francesca: I'm always on your mind?
It's very sweet and the two end up on a sort of date at the end of the episode. Although I prefer slash generally, I like the idea of Turnbull and Frannie together. It's a good out for people that are die hard Fraser/Kowalski fans. It gives Frannie someone else to focus her attention on, and really, in her case, isn't one Mountie just as good as another? Plus, the brashness of Frannie is well balanced with the goofy sweetness of Turnbull.
Squealing in an undignified manner:
I became involved in Due South about a year ago. I was a fan of the show's quirkiness, and no one is quite as quirky as Turnbull. I loved his childlike innocence and downright silliness. Something in Dean McDermott's performance just made me smile. Turnbull is goofy and fallible and in so, is sometimes more engaging than Fraser. Fraser is who we want to be, but Turnbull is who we often end up being, or at least we feel that way.
I became interested in Turnbull fiction and was fortunate to fall into Hamlette's Beautiful Oblivion first thing. It's a long, plotty (my weakness) Turnbull/Kowalski story. I was hooked. I scoured the internet for more, and I've been a Turnbull fan ever since.
Turnbull is a good character for fiction because he does have a smaller part on the show. It's fun to flesh him out and try to explain the wild extremes we see on the show. He is easy to pair with almost any character. His weirdness lends itself both to kink and to sweet heartfelt stories. Because he is so extreme you can make a case for almost anything being in character.
When it comes to pairings, I think Turnbull/Kowalski is popular because it lets Vecchio fans write Fraser/Vecchio without leaving Kowalski in the cold. I've already mentioned how Turnbull/Frannie helps out Fraser/Kowalski fans. Turnbull in this way can be a tool for OTPers. But, in using that tool, good fic can develop on its own. Turnbull/Fraser, because of their definite roles of superior and subordinate, lends itself to more the kinky side of slash. While you can write the pair in a meaningful long lasting relationship because of their commonalities, it's easy to see how appealing it is to explore the dom/subness that is inherent in their interactions.
How to get there from here:
(If you are interested in Due South and would like to watch the show, it is slowly being released on DVD. Seasons 1 & 2 are available and season 3 is getting released September 21st. You can find more information or order at Amazon.ca.)
Renfield Turnbull the Collected Stories
Due South Fiction Archive
Beautiful Oblivion by Hamlette
Chopsticks and Curling by Basingstoke
Geometry Lessons by Elaine Walker
Greatness by Matthew Time
Honestly by LaT
Queen's Bedroom* by cmshaw
Reunion by Elaine Walker
It Was a Very Good Year by Shay
The Gift of Joy by Debbie Hann
* An untitled piece on cmshaw's journal that I have merely given a description to