Although I am a huge fan of Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly/Serenity, I have never really gotten into fan fiction, but I am making an exception for the new audio drama, Buffy Between the Lines, which debuted earlier this month. The story is set between the end of season 5 and the beginning of season 6, which every Buffy fan knows is the period when Buffy was dead (and fans didn't know if there would be a season 6).
This show is being produced as a twice a month podcast and I think the first episode showed lots of potential. The storyline is clever (what fan doesn't want to know what happened that summer) and Tabitha Smith captured the dialog of each character perfectly. The voice acting is surprisingly good although I found some of the female voices hard to tell apart. The voice of Xander (Chris O) sounded just like Nicholas Brendon and the voice of Spike (Nick Edwards/lemming) also stood out.
I have three suggestions, which I hope will be taken as constructive criticism.
First, the story begins with Giles writing in his Watcher's Journal. This is a great touch since he and Buffy had had a conversation about why Watchers never recorded the deaths of their slayers. However, I did not like the scratching sound in the background. This was apparently supposed to be the sound of him writing in the journal, but I thought this sound effect was both superfluous and annoying. Otherwise, the sound effects were very good.
Second, and this is my biggest complaint: there is a need for a bit more narration. I don't want to give anything away for new listeners, but I found several scenes a little confusing. Use of sound effects is good, but it wouldn't hurt to have an occasional description of the scene, especially when they change locations.
Finally, I thought there were too many promos breaking up the show. The producers were trying to emulate the show (TV commercials) but I think they should cut back on the frequency of promos. I did enjoy learning about how many different sites and podcasts are devoted to the Buffy Verse, but by the end I was going, "shut up and finish the story!"
Despite these criticisms I recommend that all Buffy fans check out Buffy Between the Lines. The crew has a long track record in podcasting, so you can count on them to improve the show and to bring out something really great by the end of the season.