Join Kim as she talks with Lauratd (writer), Dan (Michael), P.G. Holyfield (Pete), Crystal (SFX), Andy (Larry), and Tabz (Executive Producer) as they discuss BBtL Season 2 Episode 10 – I Am Larry Blaisdell.
Category Episode Reviews
I’m writing up two episodes in one go here which I know is just wrong, but I listened to episode three at once, I’m falling behind and don’t have time to re-listen because I’m getting desperate to race on ahead and listen to the next ones (and listen to all the extra twiddly bits like the feedback and special commentary episodes I just discovered existed!).
The praise I’m going to start lavishing on this show is going to start looking pretty sycophantic fairly shortly, I’m almost hoping that these guys put out a few clunkers so that I get the chance to shower on them some of my trademark abuse. But I can’t just yet. As much as I loved episode 2 I’d secretly been expecting the show to tail off a bit, maybe present a quality monster of the week, some good dialogue and funny scenes etc but ultimately not to nail the characterization angle as deftly as Joss Whedon did or to pull of anything major; after all, it’s pretty damn thing to do and frankly if you achieve something like that, you’re probably a writer of note.
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.
[Editor’s Note: We asked Juss, from
Major kudos to Tabitha Smith and all the guys at Buffy Between the Lines for undertaking and pulling of such a bold and daring project.
I’ve kept away from expanded universe Buffy material including books comics and fan-fiction mostly as the quality of the TV show (and Season 8 comics) has been so high it would seem like desecration and only make me angry. However, having heard about Buffy Between the Lines, a radio production which follows the lives of the Buffy characters inbetween seasons 5 and 6, my curiosity got the better off me; this project was so ambitious It’d either be immensely gratifying to see it pulled off or at the very least it would give me a good laugh for 30 minutes listening to a bunch of Whedonites pretending to be Willow, Xander et al and falling flat on their faces.
There are immense difficulties involved in portraying characters so loved and cherished as the Buffyverse characters, with the acting styles and mannerisms of the Buffy actors so ingrained on our consciences it was always going to be difficult to convince listeners of the validity of this project, particularly with an amateur cast. Worse for them maybe is that Whedon and Co’s scripts are so tight, fast paced and funny whilst simultaneously containing such smart character development and genrebusting ideas that it’s going to take a scriptwriter of some talent to make it worth these actors getting out of bed for.
Lights! Camera! Action!
Okay, so there probably weren’t any lights, there definitely weren’t any cameras, and the action quota was unusually low. But rejoice! For Buffy Between the Lines is back! Returning for a much anticipated second season, BBTL takes us back to a simpler time of studying for exams, nights out at the Bronze, and demon monkeys attacking the school play. Ah, high school.
Picking up where season two left off (sans the depressing Sarah McLachlan music.) “Proceed As Planned” wastes no time in catching us up with the characters we know and love. His brief alliance with Buffy now over, Spike heads to South America with an unhappy Drusilla. Distraught after killing Angel, and unable to return home, Buffy heads to L.A. Meanwhile, the remnants of the Scooby gang, Willow, Xander, Giles, Oz, and Cordelia are left in Sunnydale, wondering if they can go back to just being normal. And tucked away in the gleaming offices of Wolfram & Hart, Holland Manners sets plans in motion to bring Angel back into the game.
The cast and crew came out swinging with an opener that should make lesser audio dramas cry out for someone maternal. While not as emotionally charged at season one’s grief stricken premiere, the episode wove all its plotlines together seamlessly with snappy dialogue worthy of Whedon. It was smart, fun, and over much too quickly. We also got the added bonus of some great new voices with Cordelia, Drusilla, and Oz, who were captured wonderfully by Lisa, Emma, and Sam. And if you listen real closely, you might just notice a little Four Star Mary, the band that leant its music to Oz’s band, Dingoes Ate My Baby.
The team has obviously grown (just listen to Tabz rattle off that list of editors!) and they’re working harder than ever to make sure that season two is everything its predecessor was, and more. Make sure to show them your support by leaving feedback, reviews, and spreading the Between the Lines love.
Quote of the Episode Award:
Oz: When I start using more words than you, be afraid.
On October 6th, Between the Lines Studios debuted with its first episode of Buffy: Between the Lines,” Beginning At The End.” Now, over seven months later, Season one finally comes to a close with Episode 12, “A Slayer’s Job Is Never Done.”
It’s been a long, hard summer for our Scoobies. They learned the hard way that the Hellmouth waits for no Slayer. While struggling to deal with Buffy’s untimely death, they’ve had to battle a steady stream of demons and beasties, and it hasn’t been easy. As they rush to find Dawn and stop Javert, the last of the Summers girls decides to make a sacrifice of her own. Meanwhile, the Navajo Spirits watch everything with growing concern.
Between the Lines Producer and Ringleader, Tabitha Grace Smith, wrote the finale, taking on the somewhat daunting task of saving Dawn, killing Javert, tying up all the loose ends, and bringing the characters back for Joss and Co to pick up in Season 6. Oh, and let’s not forget, turning everyone into kittens. She does a spectacular job of bringing everything together, and in true Buffy form, throwing us a curveball or two.
This episode hit all the right marks. High, low, funny, sad, it was all there. The music of composer, Austin Wintory, tied everything together beautifully. And just as episode one picked up directly after the end of season five, episode twelve takes us right up to the moment season six begins. Which was a fun and unexpected touch.
With dedication and awesome performances from everyone, Season one of BBtL definitely ended on a high note. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has taken part in this amazing project. From the producers to the street team members, the actors, editors, writers, and everyone in between. You’ve heard it before, and I’ll say it again. Thank you for bringing Buffy back.
A few parting thoughts as we leave BBtL for the summer. Do what you can to spread the love. There are still a lot of Buffy fans out there. Let’s see how many of them we can hook before season two. And in the meantime, why not pull out your DVDs and brush up on the good old days of Sunnydale High before BBtL comes back for its second season in August.
See you in Season Two!
P.S. I want a Kitten Spike plushie.
Quote of the Episode Award goes to:
Dawn: Maybe I’ll never be a super strong superhero like Buffy, besides who wants to work nights anyway? But if I’ve learned anything this summer, it’s that all of us are heroes. Even when we don’t feel like it.
A Review of Episode 11 – Oldies Night
Time is running out for the Scoobies. Dawn is missing, Javert moves his final pieces into play, the BuffyBot is on the fritz, and men are turning up dead all over Sunnydale. Not to mention that Willow, Xander, Anya, and Tara are stretched to breaking point with worries about resurrecting Buffy. The moment of truth draws closer. Will the scoobs be able pull it all off?
Paving the way for BBTL’s final season one episode, Beer Good Foamy holds the pen responsible for Episode 11, Oldies Night. Filled with BGF’s trademark snappy dialogue (and one or two Angel jokes.) this episode is just another example of how awesome BBtL really is.
Dawn does some unexpected Bonding with Javert, the scoobies find themselves facing off against a man-hating vampire named Elizabeth, who is ripping her way through the citizens of Sunnydale. Even with everything coming up Doomsday in the background, I thought that this episode was an excellent look into Dawn’s character. Most fans would agree that Dawn Summers isn’t exactly the most beloved character in Buffy’s world. Yes, she can be annoying. Yes, she can be whiny. But in a touching scene, we get to see a bit of the inner turmoil that Dawn works her hardest to hide from those around her. She’s feeling lost and abandoned, and that’s never good when there’s a destruction seeking vampire in the neighborhood.
As Dawn lies sleeping on Javert’s couch, the rest of us are left to anxiously await the finale of season one. Who’ll live, who’ll die, and just how on Earth are the Scoobies going to keep California from becoming the next Atlantis?
Quote of the Episode Award goes to:
Rich: Dude, I wouldn’t touch her with a ten foot pole. She looks pissed. I bet she’s one of those feminimy…fenemin…pfft, lesbians.
“It’s the truth, universally acknowledged, that anyone with the last name Summers should never celebrate a birthday.” Ep 10 Review.
A Review of Ep 10 – Summers Women Should Never Celebrate Birthdays
When will we ever learn? There are certain things in the Jossverse that just never end well. Relationships, high school, patching up the Summers’ living room window, and of course…birthdays. So as Dawn’s fifteenth birthday rolls around, and the scoobies make with the party planning, you can bet that things won’t be ending happily over Phoenix tongue sweetened cake.
The Dawn Chronicles continue in Episode 10, Summers Women Should Never Celebrate Birthdays, when the littlest Summers gets a new diary for her birthday. Through voiceovers and narratives, we’re given the inside scoop on just what Dawn has been going through. Meanwhile, Xander and Spike form an unlikely alliance when something starts causing trouble at good old Sunnydale High.
Written by BBTL super-gal, Emma Rawlin, this episode packed a lot into its forty-five minutes. I’ve found that in the eps penned by Emma, we are given the chance to view the characters through someone else’s eyes. In Episode 4, CTRL + ALT + DEL, we got to analyze the Scoobs through the BuffyBot’s processors, and now we’re given the chance to glimpse them from Dawn’s POV. Granted the diary of a 15 year old girl, is probably going to be a bit more self-involved…but we are slipped wonderful moments and insights throughout the episode. As an added bonus, we’re given some great interaction between Spike and Xander as well. Including one of the most heated arguments the show has seen thus far. Kudos to Nick and Chris!
Ending on a cliffhanger with the action coming to a head, we’re down to the final two episodes. Keep your iPods plugged in, because you aren’t going to want to miss what BBTL has in store for you.
Quote of The Episode Award goes to:
Xander: What the hell was that, Captain Peroxide?
Screams of pain and terror fill the air as we join BBtL for Episode 9, “A Dish Served Cold.” In a rare flashback sequence, we join the powerful Anyanka as she and D’Hoffryn bask in the afterglow of destruction and chaos. (And discuss the following week’s cribbage game.) While Anyanka and D’Hoffryn are pleased with the carnage, young Magda, the woman responsible for the wish, takes her own life out of fear and despair.
Meanwhile back in the present, Anya receives her wedding veil, courtesy of ebay, and finds herself possessed by Magda’s vengeful spirit. While the Scoobies race to figure out how to save Anya, Sunnydale is overrun with body-snatching spirits, and Dawn is left lost and alone…until she comes across Javert.
The crew at Buffy: Between the Lines has managed something that takes some people years to master, the art of portraying emotion without going overboard. Some people beat their audience over the head with angst and melodrama, more often than Giles gets knocked unconscious. But those over at BBtL manage to keep things a bit more subtle. They played the reunion between Giles and Jenny Calender perfectly; it was heartfelt and bittersweet without being too emotional. (Giles is British, after all.) At the same time, they also manage to capture just how alone Dawn feels without her mother or big sister around. All the while, never losing the grief that still hangs over everyone with after Buffy’s death. That’s a lot of darkness to have to balance out, but the crew does a wonderful job of keeping everything in check.
Oh, but that cliffhanger of an ending? Does anyone else wonder if writer, Alyrenee Greaves was momentarily possessed by the spirit of Joss Whedon?
Quote of the Episode Award goes to:
Xander: Willow, did you know about this?
Willow: Oh, sure Xander. At my bar mitzvah the spirit of my late uncle Sidney possessed me and made me sing Old Man River.
Xander: You sang Old Man River? How did I miss that?
A Review of Episode 8 – The Other Half of Me
I’m sure there isn’t one of us out there who hasn’t wondered how the other half lives. Just a momentary glance into the mind of the opposite sex, you know, for a little looksie. In episode eight, “The Other Half of Me,” Xander Harris does just that after he is magically transfigured into a softer, curvier version of himself. (Herself?) After being mistaken for Spike by the Bian Xing demon, Xander wakes up to find himself in someone else’s shoes. Shoes that just so happen to be heels. And it’s up to the Scoobies to find a way to get him back before it’s too late.
I think the cast and crew made a bold move with this particular episode. A show like this could have easily become a caricature or a silly stereotype. And while the writers did allow themselves to have some fun, they kept the heart of the story in tact. I’d also like to credit a large portion of what made this work to Chris O’Connor, the actor who has brought Xander to life for this series. Many actors being asked to portray the opposite sex would take things too far, and blow certain characteristics out of proportion. Chris managed to find a nice balance and make Xander’s female persona sound feminine, without turning it into a joke, which would have taken away from the episode.
Along with Xander’s misadventures, we also get another hard look into the conflict that Willow is dealing with after being thrust into her current leadership role. The stress is taking its toll on her, and she seems to be teetering between feeling lost and inept to a powerful and in control mamma-jamma. All the while, growing closer and closer to her magic addiction.
As the season draws closer the finale, tensions are beginning to rise, and it’s clear that things are going to be coming to a head soon. As Giles wisely observes, “Sometimes people in grief turn to the darker side of magic to solve their problems.” Reminding us all just what exactly everything is leading up to. And I, for one, can’t wait to see just how BBtL is going to get us there.
Quote of the Episode Award goes to:
Anya: I was really looking forward to being a lesbian. We could share clothes and watch stick flicks.