Chrissie Hynde Sings Dylan
Did Trump Actually...oh, never mind

Tales From the Loop

I guess it was roughly a month ago that I watched the first episode of this Amazon series. I thought it was wonderful, a beautifully executed story about a little girl who loses her mother and receives help and comfort from a very unexpected source.  

It's a sci-fi series, more or less, a set of eight interconnected stories of several families living in a community which is centered on a mysterious thing called The Loop. By now I've forgotten whatever explication of that idea may have been included in the first episode. Suffice to say that it is at the center of some sort of science and engineering organization, also referred to as The Loop, which in turn is the center of a small town. The concept is pretty loose; mainly it serves to establish an atmosphere of technological mystery, with the accent on mystery.

It seems to be partly inspired by the work of a Swedish artist, Simon Stålenhag, described in Wikipedia as "retro-futuristic digital images focused on nostalgic Swedish countryside alternate history environments." Here's a good example:

StalenhagYou can see more at the artist's web site. He was somehow involved in the production; his name appears in the credits, but I don't remember in what capacity. The image above doesn't exactly capture the visual characteristics of the series: where the art is muted in color and soft in focus, the series is extremely crisp and, if not necessarily bright, not at all misty. The outdoor scenes are often very beautiful in a clear North American kind of way, by which I mean further north than, say, Virginia. I think they were shot in Canada.

After that first episode, I was expecting great things. I'm sorry to say that I was mostly disappointed. The others are as well executed as that first one, but to my taste they didn't come up to its dramatic level. The second one is a story of two boys who stumble upon a device which switches the souls and bodies of two people, or...well, I don't want to give the plot away, but I found it a bit nightmarish. I wasn't enthusiastic about the next few episodes, either, and might have given up on the series if I hadn't been so impressed by the first, and hadn't given up hope that some of the others might be as good.

I said "mostly disappointed" above: I was disappointed in episodes two through seven, at least in comparison with the first. But the last one came back up to its level, or nearly, so I was glad I persevered. I can't, however, suggest that you watch only the first and last episodes. As I mentioned, the stories are interconnected, and the last one requires knowledge of the second, and is greatly enhanced by its connections with some of the others. 

The whole series was written by Nathaniel Halpern, whose name I didn't recognize, but when I looked for information I found that he wrote an episode of the American version of The Killing. And I found this very interesting interview (which is spoiler-free) with Halpern and one of the producers. The interview notes the not-accidental structural similarity of the series to Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Dekalog, which I finally saw some months ago and liked very much (I don't think I wrote about it here).

I also discovered that the first episode was directed by Mark Romanek, who also directed a film I liked very much, Never Let Me Go. And the last episode was directed by Jodie Foster, for whom I have some sort of respect of which I don't really know the source, because I don't think I've seen anything else she's directed. 

All the way through the first episode I kept thinking "Phillip Glass has really been a big influence on soundtracks." Then came the credits: the music is by Phillip Glass and Paul Leonard-Morgan.


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Your pictures seem to have jumped up a post.


I don't understand.

I see that Jonathan Pryce plays the founder of the Loop. Interesting because when I looked at a few of Stålenhag's illustrations I thought of the 1985 movie Brazil. Pryce played one of the leads in that as well.

Funny coincidence. I saw Brazil a long time ago but don't remember all that much about it, except that I thought it was pretty good. Pryce seemed familiar to me but I couldn't place him. Probably not remembering him from Brazil, though--he probably looks a bit different. :-)

When I first read this post, the Chrissie Hynde video was in this one and Th Vast of Night video was in the Chrissie Hynde one and the Loop video was nowhere. It was almost like something from Tales from the Loop.


Oh, I see. Or rather I understand what you're saying. That was a glitch somewhere between and your screen. I can assure you that the blog was never actually laid out that way. Maybe you were briefly in The Loop.

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