Apple’s new flagship TV series, based on Issac Asimov’s iconic sci-fi novels, has taken several liberties from its source material without undermining its quality
The story is set in the distant future where humans have colonised different planets across the galaxy. In the most affluent and largest empire, from the planet Trantor, ruled by clones of former emperor Cleo, a mathematician named Hari Seldon (Jarred Harris) predicts that the galactic empire would fall and would remain in chaos for the next 30,000 years, affecting trillions of lives across the galaxy.
Ever since George R R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire was adapted into the most successful TV series, Game of Thrones; every major production company has been trying to get their hands on a ‘Game of Thrones’ of their own. Amazon Prime is adapting Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, releasing this year, and a Lord of the Rings TV show, whereas Netflix has been hyping The Witcher, adapted from Andrzej Sapkowski novels.
It was only a matter before Apple, who were desperate to create a ripple in the ‘streaming wars’, greenlit their own epic adventure, and Issac Asimov’s masterpiece was their choice. To adapt a series of books touted as ‘the greatest of the 20th century’ comes with a lot of risks, for instance, failure of any kind would not be well received by the fans of the series. And in the age of social media, it wouldn't take much to discredit a media production these days, the developers of The Last of Us Part II are well aware of this fact.
The first episode of Foundation is breathtakingly beautiful with a production value that could rival a blockbuster feature film. Showrunners David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman have recreated an expansive universe with attention to detail given to each planet, the different cultures, religious beliefs, languages and accents, traditions, and even the politics, are carefully woven together without forcing too much information to the audience all at once.
The characters from the first episode are well written and each of them is given definitive arcs within minutes of their introduction. Lou Llobell’s character, Gaal Dornick is the peripheral character of the episode and her performance, despite her relative inexperience, is outstanding. Jarred Harris, who received universal acclaim for his role in HBO’s Chernobyl, essays his character Hari Seldon with grace, and the rest of the cast also contributes with convincing portrayals of their characters aided by a well-written screenplay.
While the narrative does take its time to settle, it is essential to flesh out the characters and for the viewers to get accustomed to the setting - something which video game fans are familiar with through games such as, the Mass Effect trilogy, Outer Worlds, and Titanfall. In fact, most of these games have taken inspiration from Asimov’s books. An argument could also be made that the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises have also been inspired by the Foundation novels.
The first episode has given a taste of what’s to come, and if the series can build on this, then Foundation could be just the right epic adventure for streamers looking to immerse themselves into a new and exciting world.