Amazon’s ‘Tales from the Loop’ is a puzzling and poetic series

Photo of TinaMarie Craven

Television series are often adapted from books, but Amazon adapted its storylines in “Tales from the Loop” from Simon Stålenhag’s paintings.

Stålenhag’s art often depicts childhood images with a futuristic twist as he incorporates robots and technology into pieces against Swedish landscapes.

“Tales from the Loop” is an anthology like series, with each episode revolving around a different person who lives in the town that is home to a scientific facility called The Loop, where scientists work to make the impossible possible as they try to unlock the mysteries of the universe. The series begins with a young girl trying to locate her missing mother and from there it starts delving into its delicately unsettling plot. When the young girl tries to locate her mother at The Loop, where she works, she’s told that no one by that name works there and has only a strange floating rock to give her a clue about what happened to her. Other episodes in the series revolve around teen boys swapping lives, a girl stopping time to hold on to a beautiful moment, alternate universes and robots.

What makes this series particularly compelling is that the episodes don’t gravitate around the mysterious technology and machines in the show, instead they merely act as different devices to drive the story forward, which typically revolves around a particular emotion or human curiosity. The technology may be used to create strange circumstances, but it often falls to the backdrop as the characters experience loss, heartbreak, grief, love and failure.

“Tales from the Loop” has a “Twilight Zone” element, but instead of coming across as eerie, the perplexing series is hauntingly beautiful. With the gentle and at times swooping score, set against the aged technology and lovely Swedish countryside, “Tales from the Loop” is able to present its complicated mosaic of events without jarring the viewer with the unknown.

Tales from the Loop

Seasons: One

Episodes: Eight

Episode duration: 1 hour

Rating: TV-MA

Language: English, Chinese and ASL

Similar series: Westworld

The series has an oddly calming effect on viewers as the storylines lean toward hope and optimism as each character bumbles through his or her own innately human experience.

Rebecca Hall stars in the series as Loretta, a mother and scientist at The Loop who performs with a grounded dignity as she encounters the strange effects of The Loop. Jonathan Pryce plays the founder of The Loop, Russ, who teaches his grandson about life as well as science. Duncan Joiner’s performance as Cole, a small child who has lost so many people, is brilliant. Joiner particularly shines when interacting with a robot he believes to be his brother.

“Tales from the Loop” has one season available on Amazon. The series is rated TV-MA. Viewers might also enjoy the sweeping explorations of humanity and science in HBO’s “Westworld.”