Review: Amazon's Tales from the Loop is Just Meh

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After reviewing The Stranger and Hunters, and looking at the premise and cast of Tales from the Loop, I was so hoping for another exciting, raging success. But alas, Tales from the Loop is only just meh.

Granted, the press was only privy to three of the original Amazon series' eight episodes, so it's possible the other five will blow me away. 

Tales from the Loop Season 1 photo 7

Since Tales from the Loop is an anthology, the episodes we were given -- Tales from the Loop Season 1 Episode 1, Tales from the Loop Season 1 Episode 4, and Tales from the Loop Season 1 Episode 6 ("The Loop," "Echo Sphere," and "Parallel" respectively) -- stand on their own.

But what is interesting about the show is the same characters are in each episode, tying it all together. This means, seeing more episodes might make it a bit more engaging.

The Loop is an underground machine that is apparently supposed to reveal the unexplained.

Tales from the Loop Season 1 photo 6

At one point, Jonaythan Pryce's character, Russ, answers his inquisitive grandson's question about what he does for his work underground: "You know when someone says something's impossible? I prove it's possible."

In the first episode we are told of the eclipse -- a piece of the device's structure -- is "the beating heart of the Loop. Everything above ground -- the reason that you're here now -- the eclipse is responsible.

With only three episodes to watch, though, we aren't fully informed of all that it does.

Tales from the Loop Season 1 photo 4

The first episode, "The Loop," is interesting thematically, but reminiscent of 1964's The Twilight Zone Season 5 Episode 21: "Spur of the Moment." 

In that TZ episode, a young woman is frightened by a scary woman yelling at her -- a woman who turns out to be her older self screaming life warnings at her.

We see another version of this theme currently on Dispatches from Elsewhere Season 1 Episode 3, "Janice." Here, we have something similar. It should be fascinating, but it's mostly forgettable.

Tales from the Loop photo 7

The atmosphere presents a more dramatic feel than a sci-fi one, which would be absolutely acceptable, if only it were anything more than so-so. 

"Echo Sphere" is a more tender episode, about life and death, and the sweetest grandfather and grandson relationship I've seen in a while -- played with loving sincerity by Jonathan Pryce and Duncan Joiner.

The episode contains an ode to the importance of such menial house chores as the cleaning and fixing of running toilets and how a void cannot be filled when the person who performs those tasks is no longer with us.

Tales from the Loop Season 1 photo 8

Of course, that's not the only example of an unfillable void; it's just one that hits home.

A terminally ill Russ has a potent conversation with his daughter-in-law, Loretta, whom he also appoints as heir to his life's work with The Loop.

He tells her, "Even though you won't, take a sick day now and then. You'll wonder where all that time went, all that potential -- blink of an eye." 

Tales from the Loop Season 1 photo 3

We often hear of those on their deathbeds preaching to those that will listen if there was anythng they'd do over, it would be to take more time for self and fmaily, and not work so hard and so much.

Easier said than done, right?

But each exchange between Pryce's Russ and any scene partner is filled with everyday profundity.

Tales from the Loop Season 1 photo 5

His relationship with his wife is not verbose but we can see the intense love and devotion from a glance or a repeated quirky noise shared between them.

The nuanced execution of these relationships is what makes Tales from the Loop special, albeit not enough to necessarily save it from being lost in TV obscurity.

The most successful and thought-inducing episode givenfor review is "Parallel." And if the other yet unseen episodes are as strong as this one, my review score would likely rise.

Tales from the Loop Season 1 Photo 2

Lonely Loop security guard Gaddis (Ato Essandoh) finds himself in a parallel world after encountering a tractor that suddenly appears near his work. 

OK, so that doesn't sound so unique. But what happens from there is.

"Parallel" explores the perceived truth of relationship building in the fictional otherworldy scenario.

Tales from the Loop Season photo 10

If one was to meet his parallel self, would they be friends? Could they have a sort of legit relationship, whether it be friendly or even slightly romantic?

And could one grow so jealous of the other's life, he might do untoward things in order to obtain parts of it himself?  

Falling for the husband of his parallel self is an inevitable outcome when said husband is too gorgeous to seem real.

"Is it hard being with someone so attractive?" he asks his parallel self. We soon learn the answer to that in real time.

Tales from the Loop Season 1

Let's circle back to The Twilight Zone -- because it seems the most appropriate comparative material.

In 1961's Season 2 Episode 27, "The Mind and the Matter," Archibald Beechcroft (Shelley Berman) at one point wishes everyone was just like him. 

He figures he will get along with them all if they were all clones of himself.

Tales from the Loop Season 1 photo 9

He was wrong. 

In "Parallel," things begin swimmingly enough.

But getting along with one's own self can only last so long. As we now all hunker down with ourselves in Covid 19 solitude, we are maybe starting to experience why this might be true.

Tales from the Loop has heart. Lots of it. But if you're looking for the kind of science fiction fantasty that it's sort of marketed as, I think you will be disappointed.

Tales from the Loop drops Friday, April 3, on Amazon Prime Video.

Review

Editor Rating: 2.7 / 5.0
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Kerr Lordygan is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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