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18 June 2014
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Sounds familiar: As a band starts their gig, we see the time on-screen, then cut to Buffy in the graveyard - before any dialogue is spoken. As a teaser, this is a remix of how last season's seventh episode got going, with the band replacing Once More With Feeling's overture. No fully-fledged musical unfolds here, but the teaser song, Blue, was co-written by its singer Angie Hart and Joss Whedon. Hart's husband Jesse Tobias had worked with Joss on Once More With Feeling.

Same time, same place: Uniquely, the time and date is shown onscreen: November 12, 2002, at 8:01 PM. That's exactly when this episode was first shown on America's UPN network, and implies that the episode's events happen not just simultaneously, but in real time. So why isn't Kiefer Sutherland the guest star, then?

The write-in team: Drew Goddard explained to internet radio show The Succubus Club that the writing credits only reveal half the story. The four simultaneous stories were all scripted separately. While Goddard wrote the former geek trio's High School reunion, Jane Espenson wrote Dawn's encounter with Joyce. But Willow's visitation from Cassie was mostly written by Marti Noxon, while Buffy's extra-witty encounter with Holden was - surprise! - written by Joss Whedon.

The gang's not all here: No sign of Nicholas Brendon's Xander in this episode, which is a first - nor of his on-screen ex, Emma Caulfield's Anya. James Marsters' Spike is seen but not heard: he meets a victim in the Bronze and leaves with her, but no dialogue is heard from this conversation.

Parlez-vous Klingon?: Jonathan grumbles that Andrew couldn't learn any Mexican, despite learning the whole Klingon dictionary in weeks. The Klingon Dictionary by Marc Okrand, published in 1992, is a comprehensive sourcebook for the language and syntax of the Star Trek aliens - and a surprising best-seller given that no Klingons are actually present on this planet.

She still sings to you: Willow's scenes with Cassie were initially written for Tara herself, not someone speaking for her. Amber Benson turned down doing the episode very close to filming, apparently because she felt it would be a shame to spoil fans' affection for Tara by her appearing in evil guise. A second option was for Xander to meet his long-dead friend Jesse, who was vamped and staked in season one's The Harvest. If this had proceeded, Xander would have appeared in Conversations, but Willow would not.

Much possessed by death: Amateur therapist vampire Holden Webster is played by Jonathan M. Woodward. He also plays Knox in Angel's season four finale and season five opener, and the apparently dead Tracey in The Message, an episode of Firefly unaired by Fox. He's thus one of the rare breed of actors to have appeared in all the Mutant Enemy series in production in 2002-03. The others are Carlos Jacott (Ken in season three premiere Anne) and Andy Umberger (recurring vengeance patron D'Hoffryn).

Top ranking: This was picked by Joss Whedon as one of his ten favourite Buffy episodes for a May 2003 USA Today interview.

Whedon said : "I'm very fond of Conversations With Dead People. I just thought structurally and tonally it was very interesting and had a lot to say. And I got to write another song."

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