TV Spotlight: The Legend of Vox Machina

TV Spotlight: The Legend of Vox Machina

Annika Dauer

Seven years ago, eight voice actors sat down around a table in an office borrowed from a friend to roll dice and play Dungeons & Dragons. Led by Dungeon Master, Matthew Mercer, they killed monsters and recovered artifacts every Thursday for a live Twitch stream. Over the next two years, the world fell in love with the characters and story of Critical Role and the ragtag team Vox Machina. However, all good things must come to an end. Campaign 1 ended with a whopping 115 episodes, with nearly 450 hours of playtime. The actors got new characters, and the story moved on…

Or so we thought.

Over the course of the last few years, all sorts of media has been released surrounding Vox Machina. The Vox Machina Origins comics and the novel Kith and Kin kept the story alive. On March 1st, 2019, a kickstarter was launched for an 22-minute animated special with the characters from season 1. The goal was to raise $750,000 over the course of 45 days. Instead, they raised $1,000,000 in an hour. By the time the fundraiser closed, they raised $11,385,449 with 88,887 backers:  15 times their original goal. It was the fastest and most funded TV kickstarter in the history of the site. The show was then picked up by Amazon Studios, who ordered a second season before the first was even created.

The Legend of Vox Machina takes place close to the start of the first campaign with all of the players voicing their original characters. The story revolves around the backstory of Percival “Percy” de Rolo (Talisan Jaffe), the human gunslinger. His family ruled over the city of Whitestone until the Briarwoods (Matthew Mercer and Grey Griffin) took over, killing nearly all of the de Rolos in the process. Percy joins up with a dysfunctional team of idiots calling themselves Vox Machina: three half elves, two gnomes, one goliath, and one human. Vex’ahlia (Laura Bailey) the half-elven ranger is the leader and brains behind the group (though none of them would agree with that statement). She and her twin brother Vax’ildan (Liam O’Brian) the half-elven rogue are experts at surviving the hardships of the world. The other half-elf is a druid woman named Keyleth (Marisha Ray) left home for the first time to prove her merit to her people so that she might one day take the throne. Pike Trickfoot (Ashley Johnson) the gnome cleric and Grog Strongjaw (Travis Willingham) the goliath barbarian were friends in childhood; both cared for by Pike’s great great grandfather, Wilhand. Scanlan Shorthalt (Sam Riegel) the gnome bard is very close with both of them.

I started to watch campaign 1 in early 2020. I needed something to do, and a series with over a hundred episodes looked like a good way to pass the time. I watched all of campaign 1 over the course of the last two years, branching into campaigns 2 (145 episodes) and the current campaign 3 (20 episodes and counting); although I’m nowhere close to catching up. I watched every episode of the Legend the minute they dropped. Vox Machina saw me through a really rough patch in my life, so to see the characters who taught me so much come alive through animation means the world to me. I’m not the only one: the series received 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with 30 critics reviewing, and an IMDb score of 8.4/10.

Granted, the series is not for the faint of heart. It is an adult cartoon, so dirty jokes and scenes of graphic violence are prevalent. That being said, the fantastic artistic abilities of the animators at Titmouse and the talent of the voice actors have created a wonderful show. I can’t wait for season 2.

Is it Thursday yet?