I certainly didn’t expect Buffy: Between the Lines to turn itself into essential listening in just two episodes. Not without some of the technical issues that plagued the first episode, there is however so much Buffy goodness in this story it’s virtually a fanfic dream come true. This second story in the soon to be hot radio play offers us a slice of genuine horror in the excellently executed opening scenes, as a young opera singer is mysteriously murdered, the use of song and sound here being particularly exemplary. It then throws in some classic Buffyesque comic touches, some genuine mystery in the mode of Buffy Seasons 2/3 as the gang and in particular Tara (it’s so great to see Tara lead a story) try to work out who is behind the calling of this demon and finally treats us to a great twist ending.
You want more? With Willow going to L.A to let Angel know about Buffy’s death we’re even treated to a number of crossover scenes that never did but should have happened in the TV series (or at least the comics goddammit). No, it doesn’t quite fit in with the mad demon murdering university choir-singers storyline, but Willow’s trip also becomes a disaster as there’s a demon on the loose in Angel’s hotel and Willow has to stay cool and save the day. Even more importantly, praise the lord, we’re treated to a wonderful characterisation of Cordelia that casts aside the tedious uninteresting character from Angel and gives us something close to the uber-bitch of Buffy seasons 1-3 as she lays smack into Willow and Buffy when she turns up on their doorstep. Throw in an uncanny Fred impersonation and it makes one eagerly anticipate the inevitable (this is inevitable, right?) Angel Between the Lines spin off show.
There’s still work to be done in terms of keeping the script tight and focused. At nearly an hour even with the commercial breaks the running time is a little long and without the advantages that visuals give you I’d argue that a shorter 30 minutes would make this show pacier and slightly more effective. Also, whilst the writers are managing to capture the more adult and interesting side of the Buffy character’s effectively time will tell if there’ll be any sign of Whedon’s insight or bite. It doesn‘t help that without Buffy in the cast there’s no real main character focus yet. Willow is going to have to take over the reigns as main character, I presume, but what can the writers do with her between the season’s that is all that interesting? I’m not sure but curious to find out.
If you like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and who the hell doesn’t?) this show just became essential listening. So listen already.
[Make sure to check out Juss’