Aside from a brief reunion in the "Cheers" series finale, sparring lovebirds Diane Chambers and Sam Malone ceased their verbal intercourse way back in 1987. But they clearly continue to hold a special place in the hearts of TV fans everywhere.

Diane and Sam easily amassed the most votes in Round 1 of our first-ever battle of the TV couples. In doing so, they breezed past Kelly and Zack of "Saved By the Bell" and into a second-round showdown with Will and Grace, who soundly defeated Carrie and Mr. Big of "Sex and the City."

Other big vote-getters in Round 1 included Rachel and Ross of "Friends" and Beckett and Castle of "Castle."

The closest Round 1 race came down to a face off of current TV couples: Meredith and Derek ("Grey's Anatomy") vs. Mary and Matthew ("Downton Abbey"). The duo from Seattle Grace held a slim lead going into the final hour of the competition, but fans of the popular period melodrama rallied down the stretch to give their young heartthrobs a stunning one-vote victory just as the polls closed.

Now we move on. The tournament continues with a whole new set of single-elimination matchups, including one that pits Rachel and Ross against Cliff and Clair ("The Cosby Show") in a battle of former NBC "Must-See" titans.

And again, you will decide who wins. Simply use the link at the bottom of this story to vote for your favorite duos. TV couples of the past make up one side of the bracket and present-day couples fill out the other.

By voting -- with a click of the mouse -- you'll help us narrow the field. Of course, we'll want you to come back to vote again when the third round begins, and so on, until a winner is declared.

For regular updates, follow Twitter.com/chuckbarney, and "like" us at Facebook.com/#!/BayAreaNewsGroup.ChuckBarney. The polls officially close for second-round voting at 2 p.m. Feb. 19.

«ROUND 2 BEGINS! Start voting here