• Jasmine Holly Bullock

Tales from the Loop: Amazon Original TV series review

Tales from the Loop is a 2020 sci-fi Amazon Prime series that is based off the book of the same name, by Simon Stålenhag. The tales are set in a dystopian Ohio and set in the 1950s-2000s range; depending on the point of history an episode is dealing with. However, even though the majority of episodes are set in the 60s and 70s, the level of technology shown is what I would imagine technology would be like in the year 3000, its super advanced. With robots and machinery that can cause wormholes and time manipulation... it’s no wonder that some odd things go on in this town of Mercer, Ohio. All this tech is developed by an underground research facility, known as ‘The Loop’, to work at The Loop is the best thing one could do with their life, but what actually goes on there is top secret.

Tales from the Loop consists of 8 episodes that explore the lives of different characters, but all of these characters are linked to one another, so the chronology of the episodes is very important to stick to.

( Duncan Joiner, as Cole, with a robot )

This show has a wonderful cast, some cast members included Rebecca Hall (as Loretta), Paul Schneider (as George) and Daniel Zolghadri (as Jakob). The cast was quite diverse when it came to race, gender, sexuality and age, which I will never NOT appreciate. Some of the characters are also differently abled, so it is nice that this is given some representation. Every performer was brilliant and each character was memorable and relatable in one way or another. No one is really the ‘main’ character as each episode deals with a different person, so everyone got an opportunity to shine. I will give a special mention to Duncan Joiner, who plays Cole. Joiner is one of the youngest members of the cast and yet his acting ability is just as impressive as his older castmates. He is already a pro! Joiner also featured in episode 5 of Amazing Stories, an Apple TV+ show that I reviewed a few weeks back.

( Daniel Zolghadri as Jakob )

Also, the soundtrack is glorious! The original tracks, which are co-composed by Philip Glass and Paul Leonard-Morgan, are the songs that feature the most. Each of these songs are so impactful and beautiful, they are acoustic tracks that mainly utilise the piano and/or violin. I’ve added the entire soundtrack to my Spotify list and I’ve been listening to them non-stop. My favourite songs are Tales from the Loop and Burying the Book. Please go have as listen to Burying the Book, especially if you appreciate the piano... it is a truly sad yet hopeful instrumental. There are also other songs included in the show that were great and really fit the time period they were included in. So, James Carr’s wonderful song The Dark End of the Street was played in a scene from the 60s, whilst the catchy Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Out of My Head was played in a scene set in the early 2000s. The era of the show and its scenes is not always easy to determine, but the music is a great giveaway for that, which is super useful!

( Hyper technological barn )

The reason that the time settings of the show isn’t easy to tell is because the sets are such a mishmash of styles from different time periods. You have architecture from the 60s and 70s mixed in with hyper technological structures. There is a midcentury barn with massive electronic structures running through its roof. It is sometimes a very odd sight to see the comfy, nostalgic retro settings mixed with bits of furniture and machinery that could be from something like Star Wars. Yet, this is what makes the sets so incredibly unique; I’ve never seen anything like it. Stålenhag is also an artist, and so a lot of the imagery and designs for the machines and structures in the TV show were taken from his original ideas in the book. The same goes for the settings, hence, the very Swedish countryside feel to some of the scenes.

Additionally, I loved the cinematography of this show. Every visual is detailed and deliberate, and even the small things, things that seem mundane and unimportant are given focus. The use of recurring imagery in certain episodes that sometimes reappear in other episodes is a really nice touch and is a great way to subtly shift your focus to a past episode or moment.

Furthermore, the dialogue for this show was so well written, conversations always run smooth and yet stick to the naturalism of a conversation. Through dialogue you can easily gauge people’s relationships with one another and honestly, there were some really great snippets of wisdom thrown in at certain points. I was getting really good life advice from some of these characters!

( Ato Essandoh as Gaddis )

Ironically for a show that is unrealistic, it was very realistic in terms of human behaviour and how not everything can be fixed, things don’t always last forever or turn out the way you want, and how your actions can greatly affect others. There were moments when I was really angry at the series, which sounds stupid but I became so emotionally invested in these characters and seeing them in moments if despair moved me greatly. I cried LOTS. I feel like the moral of Tales from the Loop is essentially this: Life can sometimes throw some awful things your way and sometimes the only thing you can do is just roll with it and try to get on with your life as best as you can. Despite the unwelcome changes, life must go on.

Tales from the Loop is one of the best TV shows I have seen this year, if not THE best. I’m not the only one who thinks this show is great; in fact, it has an 84% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and on Amazon Prime it is rated at 4.3 stars. The book also has a 5 star review on the Waterstone’s website, which just highlights how amazing the story itself is. I am intent on reading the book after watching the series, I’ve finished all 8 episodes and yet I am still eager for more. If you were going to watch anything on Amazon Prime, Tales from the Loop should be at the top of your list!

RATING: ★★★★★


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