Tales from the Loop is a new science fiction series on Amazon Prime. It is based on the retro-futurist artwork of Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag and has a nostalgic, almost elegiac atmosphere to it. The camera work is beautiful. The technology of the town looks amazing and the soundtrack is lush and evocative. As well as being hauntingly nostalgic, it is also emotionally engaging and devastating. Many of the characters appear to be depressed and there is a lot of death and sadness throughout the series.
The setting is a midwestern American town in a vaguely defined version of the 1980’s. It’s clearly an alternative America to the one in our timeline as the town is built upon a huge scientific research institute known as the loop. The setting is lush and forested. Huge science fiction towers loom in the background of many shots. Unknown and unexplained machines rise from the lake (which is frozen in the initial episode, pictured above). Robots lurk in the woods and fight each other. Discarded pieces of machinery lay around the forest like something from Grandaddy’s seminal 2000 concept album, The Sophtware Slump. There is a sense of stillness and stasis over the town. Strange things happen but everyone is just trying to get from one day to the next as best they can.
A major criticism of the show, which I don’t personally agree with, is that it is too slow. Perhaps for many modern audiences who are looking for a quick fix of action, a gratuitous space battle, a high-speed chase or graphic violence, Tales from the Loop would be too slow. Its story unfolds slowly across the series. It’s presented as something a little like an anthology show but there is a timeline, recurring characters and story arcs that span form one episode to the next. Storylines include all of the old classics like:
- Young girl time travels to the future and is helped back to present by her future self
- Black holes devouring family homes
- Body swapping, friends betraying each other over body swapping
- Betrayed friend body swapping into robot body
- Gifted but depressed young girl repairs time stopping technology
- Bored security guard accidentally travels to parallel dimension
- Children experiencing the death of a loved one for the first time
- Depressed and financially unstable father of comatose son (body swap betrayal kid) Buys giant robot to protect home from intruder
- Young boy gets marooned on offshore island with a robot
- Robot is kind of his brother
- Young boy gets lost in the woods with his brother who has body swapped into a large robot
- Giant robot brother battles scorpion shaped giant robot
- Giant robot brother defeats opponent but is badly damaged and dies
- When young boy returns from the woods thirty years has passed but he hasn’t aged a day
You know? All the old clichés. It’s a solid watch for any science fiction fan who is more interested in the cerebral died than the action side. Just sit back and enjoy the beautiful visuals, soundtrack and acting. Just prepare for the rollercoaster ride of emotions you are letting yourself in for.
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