They Said Foundation Couldn't Be Filmed, and It Still Hasn't Been

The Hugo Awards voted Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy as the greatest science fiction series ever in 1966. Although other series have surpassed it, it is still the foundation of the genre. The series' fame is not due to its epic galactic story, which was told over 500 years. There are dozens of characters, conflicts and stories. No one has yet figured out how Foundation could be made into live-action. Apple TV+'s Foundation series isn't quite there yet.


Foundation TV series is not Foundation book series. The original story is still there in some parts, including the premise. Mathematician/psychologist Hari Seldon (Jared Harris) creates the field of psychohistory, in which the future can be pathetically predictednot for individuals, but humanity in generaland has discovered the horrifying truth that the 12,000-year-old Galactic Empire is going to fall, beginning a new dark age that will last 30,000 years. This can't be stopped but can be reduced to a mere millennium if a repository of human information is created to be the foundation for a new civilization. This is an incredible premise, which could not be portrayed in a movie. It was also impossible to adapt for TV. Five separate novels make up the first Foundation book. They have no common characters and are set over 150 years. Because we spend so little time with these characters, very few of them are fully developed. They are not the story the Foundation tells, nor how it evolves over time.

Television viewers would struggle to get invested in a show that changes the conflict and cast every episode. David S. Goyer, showrunner of over a billion DC super heroes movies, limits Foundations' first season to the first half of the original novel. He also ties them together in an almost forced manner. Goyers' idea of Lee Pace playing an immortally cloned Emperor Cleon was a smart way to give the series (basically) a consistent antagonist. Modern times require that characters be changed to reflect their genders or ethnicities. Asimov's early books had virtually no female characters. This doesn't impact the story in any way. He opens the show with some sci-fi spectacle, which will hook audiences into rooting Haris' grand plan to succeed.

Here's the catch: Creating a 10-episode series from about 100 pages of text would be lunacy comparable to making The Hobbit three movies. These episodes feel longer than their hour-long running time because so much has to be done. These additions are very welcome. Salvor Hardin and Haris protg Gaal Donick (in two outstanding performances by Lou Llobell, respectively) receive extensive backstories that help to enhance their characters. Emperor Cleon, who is barely mentioned in the first book has not only his own storyline, but is actually three people: Brother Day, the younger Brother Dawn (Cassian bilton), and the older Brother Dusk, (Terrence Mann).

G/O Media might get a commission price drop Galaxy Tab 7 12.4". This is over 50% off the original list price!

Gizmodo named the "Best Android Tablet"

These additions were made out of thin air and have nothing to do the Foundation's story. The show and the books become almost unrecognizable after the second episode. Even if you haven't read Asimov yet, you will still be able to see the long-winded plots, padding and bizarre choices made by the characters in order to keep the story moving. The series is filled with cheap, absurd melodrama. Seldins plan suddenly stops working when two people are in a relationship. He has to end the relationship. There's also the terror of people not making certain connections. The show shows something to the characters, then has them comment on it to themselves, and then throws in a flashback where someone said something pertinent even though it was three minutes before. Pew-pew laser fights, ship fights, spacewalk mishaps, and junk are all part of the show's agenda. None of these offer anything new and they usually run out of time.

It's not hard to feel it, despite the fact that psychohistory should not be able predict individual actions. Haris plan is based solely on individuals, which is a problem with Foundation books as well. It's compounded by Hari needing to have predicted the survivor of gunfight and their ability stop a bomb going off at the last moment. When everything seems to be going against you, it's difficult to care about a plan. The second problem is that all of the generic sci-fi action goes against what made the Foundation series so popular: the celebration of science, history, and hope for a new galactic civilization.


Foundation does not want to be Foundation. It wants to be Westworld's first season. The TV series pontificates about politics, religion, and souls. However, it lacks the depth and substance to make any meaningful statements. It also wants to be Game of Thrones, with its political maneuverings (most of which are created wholesale for the show), however once Hari Seldons spaceship is launched, these imperial politics will have little to no connection with the Foundation. It also wants to be an action-sci-fi show. It is so busy trying to be everything that Foundation doesn't have time. The result is beautiful, but it doesn't make for compelling sci-fi. Isaac Asimov fans and those who are familiar with his works will be alarmed to learn that the show contains a disturbing scene that will make you want to rip your TV in half. Then you'll see how unnecessary it was and will decide to cut it in four.


The Goyers Foundation does not represent Asimovs Foundation. It is not an adaptation. And it's so different from the original that calling it Isaac Asimov's Foundation still seems a stretch. It may be impossible to adapt this classic work of science fiction to another medium but there are other shows that could do a better job.

Just recently, the first two episodes on Foundation were streamed via Apple TV+. Each week, single episodes will be released.


Are you curious about where our RSS feed went. The new one can be found here.