Spoilers follow for Foundation Episode 1. Check it out first before reading.
Apple TV Plus has been a surprising offering during the intense streaming war. Netflix, Disney Plus and Amazon Prime Video have dominated in recent years, but Apple has quietly gone about building a back catalog of top-rated movies and shows — including the multi-award-winning soccer comedy series Ted Lasso.
Now, The Foundation, the new flagship show from Apple TV Plus, is aiming to become the streamer’s most ambitious and potentially successful production to date. Based on the influential science-fiction book series by Isaac Asimov, Foundation is a sprawling, centuries-long story with a unique premise that should appeal to audiences of a space opera flair.
On the surface, the Foundation’s plot seems like it would be easy to follow. It tells the story of The Foundation, an outcast group led by mathematical genius Hari Seldon (Jared Harris) and his student Gaal Dornick (Lou Lobel), who try to save the Galactic Empire from total destruction.
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Claiming that the empire will endure 30,000 years of darkness and civil wars if it does not immediately change course, Ceylon and Dornik propose that if certain criteria are met, including the formation of their foundation, Can shorten the time by 1,000 years. The dictatorial ruler of the Empire – led by the narcissistic Brother Day (Lee Pace) – reluctantly agrees. To ensure that the pair’s group of followers do not advance and threaten to overthrow the leaders of the Empire, however, Brother de Seldon exiles Dornik and his disciples to Terminus, which is on the outskirts of the galaxy. There is an uninhabited planet.
So far so good, right? no exactly. Despite its straightforward premise, the foundation’s premiere — called The Emperor’s Peace — is sometimes hard to follow. As viewers, we go on a whistle stop tour of its main players, key locations and story threads (both mainline and subplots) during its 68-minute runtime, without stopping to breathe, which gives us more space to process. does not give. running or who are these characters.
The show seems to be rushing to achieve its most important plot point — Seldon’s revelation that the Empire is headed for destruction — without investing enough time to introduce us to anything else. who are these people? What are their inspirations? Where have they come from? Why are they integral to the Foundation’s story?
These are questions that are likely to be answered in more detail in future episodes. Given the complexity of Asimov’s novels, listener David S. Goyer probably had a hard time crafting an early episode (with a limited runtime) that focused on the essentials and left out additional story elements until later entries.
but we need Some The reason for investing in Foundation’s setting and characters, and not explained in detail in its early episodes Why Us. Its planet hopping and sometimes brief character introductions don’t give the show’s premiere enough room to breathe, or its poignant scenes, as Gal leaves his home world to work with Selden. , the emotional depth they require.
As hopelessly frantic as it is now, the Foundation’s pacing issues must iron themselves as the series progresses. And, in a sense, it’s hard to blame the show for moving too fast — like the source material, the Foundation aims to span 1,000 years of human history. So it needs to move at a rate of knots to get into the flesh of its story.
The TV adaptation of Foundation is as wildly ambitious as the book series. The show’s sheer scope is highly impressive, especially from a visual perspective, with major planets such as Trantor brought to life in extraordinary detail. Sure, it’s VFX-heavy, but a show of this scale has to be. It doesn’t look hard, either, thanks to some fairly classy art direction that infuses Foundation with a sense of realism despite its distant futuristic setting.
The magnitude of the Foundation also extends to its sizable cast. Goyer previously described it as a ‘Game of Thrones in space’, and the sheer number of characters proves that making such comparisons isn’t absurd. HBO’s live-action take on George R.R. Martin’s fantasy novel series is filled with charming and disgusting characters and, based on its opening episodes, Foundation has had its fair share of good, bad, and morally gray individuals.
The interactions between like-minded individuals like Seldon and Dornick are fairly regular and don’t give much in the way of mystery. conversation between people who No The face-to-face look, however, provides a lot of tense moments and, arguably, this is where the foundation shines the most.
Watching Selden and Dornick fight verbally with Brother’s Day, or Empire prosecutors, as they are prosecuted for treason, makes for amusing viewing and provides an insight into how cleverly they are. are absorbent. Watching the pair manipulate events in their favor, and sowing seeds of doubt in their opponents, is upbeat and feels very David vs. Goliath-esque in their approach.
The day’s interactions with his fellow emperors also make for interesting scenes. Like Day, Brother Dawn (Cooper Carter) and Brother Dusk (Terrence Mann) are clones of Emperor Klein I, the first ruler of the Galactic Empire, so you’d suspect the trio would agree on every decision they made.
And yet they don’t. Despite presenting a united front publicly, there is an immediate underlying tension between them – Adult Day and Evening, in particular – in private. It’s fascinating to watch and, if future episodes continue to explore the potential fracture of Day and Dusk’s relationship, we’ll be in for a wild ride. Game of Thrones was initially thrilled due to its equally strained relationship, so if Goer expects viewers to draw comparisons between Foundation and HBO’s adaptation during its 10-episode run to maintain that momentum. A lot of drama will be required.
Speaking of dramatic moments, there is only one significant event in the first episode of Foundation, but it’s certainly impressive. The destruction of Trantor’s Star Bridge by Anacreon and Thespin terrorists – which serves as the gateway to the galaxy’s main hubworld – is believed to be a harrowing watch. We only see a fraction of the destruction and millions of lives are lost but, frankly, what we see is quite painful. If similar chaotic and tragic scenes play out during Season 1, Foundation will be an emotionally exhausting watch.
The Emperor’s Piece is an ambitious if strange start to the latest big production of Apple TV Plus. It struggles to find a balance between systematically presenting its sizable cast, locations, and multiple plot points, and progressing at a pace that doesn’t stop it.
It tries to run before it can run and, if you pardon the pun, doesn’t do as good a job at laying the foundation as it probably could. As a result, Episode 1 can be difficult to follow, especially if you’re not familiar with Asimov’s book series.
When it gets around the late 40-minute mark, though, the foundation premiere starts to get interesting. The latter shows that the series has the potential to succeed and with the introduction of its multiple cast there should now be more room for character development, thematic depth and a more provocative story thread.
There is enough political intrigue and personality clashes to keep audiences engaged, but more leasing in these areas will be needed if the Foundation hopes to entertain its audience. If Episode 2 can find a better balance between its many moving parts, we may be in for a wild ride — but the jury is still out.
- Foundation Episode 1 marks the first series for its cast and crew. To begin with, the series premiere marks the first time that director Rupert Sanders has directed an episode of a TV production. Before that, Sanders’ most notable work was the 2012 film Snow White and the Huntsman.
- The role of Gal Dornick marks Lou Lobel’s first major acting gig. Until Foundation, the Australian actress had only supporting film roles in Voyagers and The Pilgrim.
- The Foundation is also Lee Pace’s first major TV role since Halt and Catch Fire ended in 2017. The Hobbit and Guardians of the Galaxy star has made only guest appearances in the AMC period drama and the Hong Kong TVB series Flying Tiger 2 between them back in 2019. TV return as part of the Foundation’s cast.
- Foundation is only Finnish actor Laura Byrne’s second English-speaking TV role. Byrne, who played Eto Demerzel in Apple’s TV adaptation, had only starred in one previous English-language TV show – the 2018 Netflix series The Innocents.
- The characters in Asimov’s book series are Gal, Eto and Salver Hardin (Leah Harvey). However, in order to update the source material for the modern era, Foundation’s main characters have their gender flipped in the TV adaptation to diversify – Asimov’s daughter says the late writer “fully embraced taken”.
- Apple’s Foundation series is the fourth attempt to adapt Asimov’s works to a live-action capability. New Line Cinema tried to develop a film based on the Foundation’s mainline trilogy in 1998, but after the project failed, Columbia Pictures successfully bid for its screen rights in 2009. HBO tried to produce a TV show in 2014 after an unsuccessful attempt by Columbia, but that production also failed to gain any traction. Apple ordered a 10-episode series in 2018, and the rest is history.
- While many of the Foundation’s live-action productions were mired in development hell (until Apple stepped in), Asimov’s novels did Customize in another way. In 1973, an eight-part radio series aired on BBC Radio 4, and became a …