Talks Machina

Talks Machina

The last logo for Talks Machina

The first logo for Talks Machina
Directed byZach Wilson (technical director)[1]
Host(s)
Starring
Theme music by
Production
Produced byMaxwell James[2]
CinematographySteve Failows[3]
Cameras
operated by
Sound recorded byChris Willmott (mix)
Photography byChris Lockey[4]
Release
Hosted onTwitch
Youtube
Critical Role
Running time± 1 hour
No. of episodes161
First airedNovember 15, 2016
Last airedMay 25, 2021

Talks Machina was a weekly talk show hosted by Brian Wayne Foster, where the events of Critical Role were discussed. Each week there were several guests who answered questions sent in by fans. The guests were usually some of the regular cast members of Critical Role, but there were also guest players such as Mary Elizabeth McGlynn and Will Friedle, several of the crew members from Geek & Sundry, and fans such as Andrew from @CritRoleStats.

On 16 August 2021, both Critical Role and Brian Foster's Twitter accounts announced that Brian would be moving on from the company to focus on personal projects.[5][6]

On July 6, 2023, all episodes of Talks Machina were made private videos and links to them were removed from the main Critical Role site, effectively removing public access to these episodes.

Format and episodes[edit | edit source]

The episodes could be watched live on Critical Role's Twitch channel. The first four episodes, the Critmas 2016 episode, and the live WonderCon episode were uploaded to the Geek & Sundry website, with episodes through "Talks Machina #100: Xhorhas" (TM2x51) available on a playlist in roughly reverse chronological order. "Talks Machina #101: Feral Business" (TM2x52) and later were posted to the Critical Role website the Thursday after they aired.

In January 2017, Talks Machina added an "Extended Q&A" segment on Project Alpha, which included 15–20 minutes of extra cast questions pulled from Alpha viewers, later coined Talks Machina: After Dark by the fans.[7][8] This ended when Alpha folded in March 2019.[9]

As well as questions for the cast, fans submitted their show-related gifs, fan art, and cosplay photos. The winners were featured in the Gif of the Week, Fan Art of the Week and Cosplay of the Week segments, respectively, and received Critical Role or Wyrmwood Gaming merchandise. (The Gif of the Week segment was replaced by the Cosplay of the Week segment.)

From "Talks Machina #101: Feral Business" (TM2x52) onwards, Talks Machina began being additionally available as a podcast when Critical Role started their own channel. Talks Machina episodes were included on the Geek & Sundry Critical Role podcast feed, interspersed with the campaign episodes themselves.

Talks Machina originally aired on Tuesdays at 7pm PST/PDT (Los Angeles time). The show ceased production temporarily during the COVID-19 Hiatus from March through September of 2020. From 15 September 2020 to May 2021, it returned in a new, bi-weekly, pre-recorded and socially distant format. Questions were generated by members of the production team rather than gathered via social media from Critters and cast members and the host participated via Zoom recordings.

Cast attendance[edit | edit source]

Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

Screenshot of the initial set for Talks Machina, by Critical Role from The World of Critical Role, page 586.[art 1]

Travis Willingham and Marisha Ray came up with an idea for an aftershow, where the cast could answer the week's questions about their campaign in an organized and digestible way. They chose Brian W. Foster as the host,[10] doing a brief screen testing with him. Brian asked Marisha and Travis a couple questions, and they knew they "had something there", hiring Brian.[11]

The first Talks episode was plagued with technical difficulties: the feed cut out and they started thirty minutes late. Brian said "it was one of the most precious nights of my life", learning to handle his anxiety of being on camera by playing a character, an exaggerated version of himself, for most of the hour. He added that the core of the show is the appreciation and awareness of the community from the questions asked, fan art and cosplay contests, to the set decoration.[12]

The first ~10 episodes of Talks Machina, Brian Foster did the majority of the creative preparations for the show. When Dani Carr and Maxwell James joined the production team of Talks Machina, they provided input and improved the aspects of the show.[13]

Talks Machina set was decorated with items mostly gifted and sent from Critters. The crew and the cast only had two days to embellish the empty set before the launch of the first episode of Talks Machina. Almost all of the main cast members got up early on a Sunday and spent time in the Rose Bowl flea market in Pasadena, looking for decorations. Laura Bailey haggled for the original set furniture, including the large barrel, situated between Brian and his guests, which she got for approximately 1/4 of the price.[14]

Photograph of Trinket plush statue on Talks Machina set, by Critical Role.[art 2]

Other adornment included:

Running gags and recurring segments[edit | edit source]

Are we on the internet?: One of Brian's standard lines at the beginning of the episode.

Thank My Guests: Brian deliberately mangles the cast names in new and creative ways when thanking them for appearing on the show at the end.

Stay Turnt: After "Daring Days" (1x86), Talks Machina was off the air the following week. In the place of the TM episode, Geek & Sundry ran a stream featuring a card made by Maxwell James that erroneously said: "No talks tonight. Instead stay turnd from a Critical Role of episode [..]". Then the misspelling evolved into "stay turnt".[17]

Denise: For a period of time, Denise worked for Geek & Sundry and produced Talks Machina. Brian frequently referred to her off-camera, briefly continuing to do so after her departure from the company and the production team for the show.

Lord Have Mercer: Brian replays a clip from the previous episode where the players argued and engaged in rules-lawyering with the DM.

  • They frequently reference Québec, the only Canadian province where you legally can't win Talks Machina prizes.
  • When Brian asks fans to submit their artwork and cosplay, a quasi-subliminal message "SUBMIT" flashes quickly across the screen.
  • The cast often jokes that Brian smells like cabbage.
  • Sometimes Brian will pretend to be in the middle of a conversation when the recording resumes, such as at the beginning of the "After Dark" segment.
  • For a while during campaign 2, Dani Carr would open the episode with an off-screen comment or "fun fact" and Brian would response with a joke.

External links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Talks Machina #100: Xhorhas" (TM2x51) at 15:14.
  2. "Talks Machina #100: Xhorhas" (TM2x51) at 24:27.
  3. "Talks Machina #100: Xhorhas" (TM2x51) at 10:47.
  4. "Talks Machina #100: Xhorhas" (TM2x51) at 28:29.
  5. Critical Role (@CriticalRole) on Twitter: "Let's all wish @brianwfoster the best as he embarks on some wild new creative endeavors. We have nothing but mad love and support for our Cabbage Lord, and want to thank him for his creativity and contributions to CR over the years." (August 16, 2021). (backup link)
  6. Brian W. Foster (@BrianWFoster) on Twitter: "I've had the absolute time of my life making shows and playing games and traveling the world with my best friends. I'm grateful for their support and encouragement as I chase my own dreams. I'm excited to just be a Critter again." (August 16, 2021). (backup link)
  7. "Talks Machina #10: Deadly Echoes" (TM1x82) at 5:50.
  8. "Update: Where to watch Talks Machina"
  9. TechCrunch: Alpha, the geek-friendly streaming service from Nerdist and Geek and Sundry, is shutting down
  10. The World of Critical Role, p. 582.
  11. The World of Critical Role, p. 583.
  12. The World of Critical Role, p. 586.
  13. "Talks Machina #54: The Howling Mines" (TM2x06) at 1:06:00.
  14. The set of Talks Machina holds secrets and stories (June 18,2018)
  15. The set of Talks Machina holds secrets and stories (June 18,2018)
  16. Geek & Sundry (@GeekandSundry) on Twitter: "The stars are right, by gift or ganking. #CriticalRole #TalksMachina" (June 13, 2018). (backup link)
  17. "Talks Machina #29: Thar Amphala" (TM1x101) at 3:25.

Art:

  1. Screenshot of the initial set for Talks Machina, by Critical Role from The World of Critical Role, page 586. This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.
  2. Photograph of Trinket plush statue on Talks Machina set, by Critical Role (source). This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.