Tales from the Loop is a drama television series based on the art of Simon Stålenhag that was released on Prime Video. The series was inspired by Stålenhag's narrative artbook Tales from the Loop and was released on April 3, 2020.
The series debuted in more than 200 countries and territories.
It is the first television series in history to be adapted from digital paintings.
The series is available on Prime Video in both high definition and 4K Ultra HD, which must be selected separately in order to be watched.
Tales from the Loop explores "the town and people who live above “The Loop,” a machine built to unlock and explore the mysteries of the universe – making things possible that were previously relegated only to science fiction." In this fantastical mysterious town poignant human tales are told that bare universal emotional experiences while drawing on the intrigue of genre storytelling.
Following the discovery of "the Eclipse," the Mercer Center for Experimental Physics, or "the Loop," was built around it to conduct experiments with fringe physics. Artifacts from the experiments then littered the surrounding countryside of Mercer, Ohio which are then encountered by the characters of the series. The strange experiments have power over time, space, perception, emotion and memory. They are responsible for odd phenomena including people and buildings disappearing, objects floating, strange vibrations and mysterious time-shifting.
The series is largely unconcerned with trying to explain the mythology of the Loop, but rather focused on telling human stories, with the scifi elements as a backdrop. Showrunner Nathaniel Halpern has stated that one need not "fuss over lore or dive into supplemental material" in order to enjoy the series. He has also stated that the series is "meant to be an emotional series--not cynical, not doom and gloom.
- Rebecca Hall as Loretta Willard
- Paul Schneider as George Willard
- Duncan Joiner as Cole
- Daniel Zolghadri as Jakob
- Jonathan Pryce as Russ Willard
Listed cast are those credited as having a starring role, though they do not appear in every episode. Please see pages for individual episodes for specific cast listings, as well as guest stars and co-stars.
Tales from the Loop was released for eight episodes for its first season. All episodes were written by series creator Nathaniel Halpern. Although many reviews for the series have described it as an anthology whose episodes could possibly be watched in any order, showrunner Nathaniel Halpern stated in an interview that he feels describing the program as an anthology series puts an image in people's minds that's incorrect and that the episodes should be watched in order.
Due to the nature of the content in certain episode, such as language, dialogue or nudity, each installment of the series has been rated differently. The episodes "Loop," "Control" and "Enemies" are rated for those aged 13+. "Transpose" and "Parallel" are rated 16+. "Echo Sphere" and "Home" are rated 7+, while "Stasis" is rated 18+.
Behind the scenes featurettesEdit
For its X-ray feature, Prime Video produced a Scene Commentary featurette for each installment of the program (two for "Loop"), as well as one Behind the Scenes featurette. These are as follows:
- Scene Commentary: "The Beating Heart of the Loop" ("Loop")
- Scene Commentary: "An Experiment in Trust" ("Loop")
- Scene Commentary: "Jakob and Danny" ("Transpose")
- Scene Commentary: "Endless Love" ("Stasis")
- Scene Commentary: "Light in the Dark" ("Echo Sphere")
- Scene Commentary: "The Threat from Within" ("Control")
- Scene Commentary: "Between a Man and Himself" ("Parallel")
- Scene Commentary: "George's Past" ("Enemies")
- Scene Commentary: "In the Blink of an Eye" ("Home")
- Behind the Scenes: "The Art of the Loop"
The show's earliest conception is said to be when executive producer Matt Reeves's writing assistant, Adam Sorin, saw images by author Simon Stålenhag online and brought them to the attention of Reeves and his production company. Adam Kassan and Rafi Crohn then suggested pursuing the rights to the book, though Reeves wondered at first what they could do with a book of paintings. The idea then came together when Nathaniel Halpern was brought in to the production company 6th & Idaho for a general meeting. Although there was no plan to talk about Stålenhag's paintings at the time, somebody from the company pulled the book off the shelf and a discussion about it began. About a week later, Halpern returned and pitched the idea for the series.
Tales from the Loop author Simon Stålenhag first began discussions with 6th & Idaho around 2016. He serves as a consultant for the series, but was not originally announced in any production role. Regarding what he was most excited to see in the adaptation, he stated that it was the close-ups of people's faces, as while he could write about characters and feelings and paint people, he can't paint close-ups. He was later revealed to be a co-executive producer for the series. He stated that not only did the change of the setting of the story from Sweden to American not bother him, it was the other way around. He was scared of trying to make an American production Swedish and asked that those involved with the show find an American writer who could make an American version. Since the setting was the Midwest, which has Scandinavian settlers, slight Scandinavian references could be included, such as an Ingmar Bergman film and Swedish music. He stated also that there are some very dark influences in his book that showrunner Nathaniel Halpern didn't go to, but which he'd like to possibly see if there were a second season.
On July 17, 2018, it was announced that Amazon had given the production a series order for a first season consisting of eight episodes. Executive producers are set to include Matt Reeves, Adam Kassan, Rafi Crohn, Nathaniel Halpern, Mark Romanek, Mattias Montero, Johan Lindström, and Samantha Taylor Pickett. Halpern is also expected to serve as showrunner as Romanek is expected to direct the pilot episode. Production companies involved with the series are set to include 6th & Idaho, Indio, Amazon Studios, and Fox 21 Television Studios.
The series was slated to debut at SXSW (South by Southwest), but the event was canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak. At the convention, the series was to have its episodic premiere, followed by an extended Q&A session with select cast and crew. There were also screenings for the series planned in both New York and Los Angeles. Show creator Nathaniel Halpern stated that while the cancellation of these events was disappointing, he considers it fortunate that this series was finished and able to stream, given the news of the cancellation of filming of other series. Material from SXSW, including Tales from the Loop, will be made available on Prime Video beginning on April 27.
The series was filmed in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, which was chosen due to the province's appealing tax credit for film and video production. The series was shot in multiple locations throughout the province.
Kari Casting issued a casting call for the series on March 5, 2019 via Facebook. The casting call stated among other things that it was looking for individuals anywhere from age 16-80 of all ethnic diversity, that women should have natural hair color and that men looking to apply should not get a haircut themselves but had to have been okay with getting a haircut.
Although the Tales from the Loop book was also adapted as a tabletop RPG, showrunner Nathaniel Halpern stated that he has never seen a role-playing game and the series is not in any way connected to it. He stated further in a podcast interview that while he did become aware of the RPG during the production of the series, he purposely stayed away from it, as he did not want the series to be influenced by its narratives.
Music for the series was composed by Paul Leonard-Morgan and Philip Glass. The series marks the first time that Philip Glass has composed music for an episodic television series. The day of the series' release, Amazon released for purchase its original soundtrack for digital purchase, featuring 30 tracks from the series.
Based on early material, the series has been described as "an optimistic and hopeful look at how humanity could connect to each other in the future." Germain Lussier of io9 expressed hope that the series would "scare, inspire, excite, and everything inbetween." CBR compared the premise of the series to Netflix's Stranger Things, noting that while the comparison had been made before with other shows, this time it might actually be true.
Reviews for the program's first season first appeared on March 27, 2020, based on episodes 1, 5 and 6 of the series. Overall response to the series from critics was largely positive. Martin Carr of Flickering Myth stated that there was so much to appreciate about the series that his review could only whet the appetite. He stated further that the series has a mystery and depth which goes beyond its snow-covered landscapes. Hoai-Tran Bui of Slashfilm described the series as an ode to humanity, saying that the series captures the "uncanny feeling of Stålenhag’s paintings." Michael Ahr of Den of Geek was slightly less positive overall, stating that the show is not for everyone and that fans of hardcore science fiction will want to explore the mysteries of the Loop far faster than the pacing of the series allows. Despite this, he described the series as a "quiet and unique exploration of life in a small town affected by singular circumstances in the tradition of Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology and a brilliant homage to the Stålenhag paintings." Joel Golby of The Guardian had possibly the harshest review for the series, describing it as "a beautiful, nostalgic series in which nothing happens." He stated that while the show should be "crack" to him, but that he considers it "rude to take an hour of someone’s life and only tell seven to nine minutes of story across it." Vanity Fair's Jordan Hoffman stated that while the series may at first seem to resemble Stranger Things, it actually is "a little more like Twin Peaks: The Return." Tom Long of Detroit News reflected that the show "stands out by not standing out," noting that "There are no mega-explosions apparent, no eye-popping special effects or gore celebrations. It offers meditations on man in a modern world beyond easy control. Which hardly seems like science fiction." David Baird of the B.C. Catholic reflected on the context of the series in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, stating that "...it would seem a timely perspective, as this series reminds us, to prioritize those fragile, sometimes fleeting human connections that make the whole clanking, ever-advancing effort of society amount to more than the sum of its parts." A viewer comment submitted for the Prime Video Club also offered a comment in relation to the pandemic, stating that "You know you've adjusted when you watch the first episode of 'Tales from the Loop' and feel terror at the crowd of people shuffling into the building."
As of the evening of April 26, 2020, the series has a 83% certified fresh score on the review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, with a total of 48 reviews. The show's Critic's Consensus on the site states that "Though the show around them burns a bit too slowly, Tales from the Loop beautifully transposes Simon Stålenhag's paintings into moving art and provides a welcome dose of warmth and humanity with its sci-fi." The show's audience score is slightly less favorable, at 76% with 196 ratings.
In anticipation of the series, the tabletop Tales from the Loop RPG has released new starter set with a scenario titled The Recycled Boy. The packaging features an image from the series and a logo reading "Now An Amazon Original Series - Prime Video."
Tales from the Loop has been nominated for 2020 Emmy awards in the categories of Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (for cinematography in the pilot episode "Loop" by Jeff Cronenweth) and Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role.
- Tales from the Loop on Prime Video
- Tales from the Loop on IMDb
- Tales from the Loop on Wikipedia
- Director's Guild of Canada - Tales from the Loop
- American Cinematographer - "Strange Machines"
- Befores & Afters - "We would stop on a single frame..."