How the Apple TV+ adaptation of 'Foundation' differs from its source

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Showrunner and writer David Goyer shares how "Foundation" had to change for its Apple TV+ version, from modernization to adaptation to changing social standards.

'Foundation' premieres on September 24
'Foundation' premieres on September 24


Gizmodo talked with David Goyer, the showrunner, writer, and executive producer of Apple TV+ show "Foundation." He shared his approach to bringing Issac Asimov's science-fiction epic to life 70 years after its publication.

"Whenever I'm adapting something, I read it again or watch it again, and I try to write down what I think the core ideas are, the essential ingredients," he told Gizmodo over video chat. "In this case, because Asimov wasn't alive, I was talking to his estate, to his daughter, and I said, I want to make sure that I've identified the core ingredients that make "Foundation," "Foundation."

The estate says Goyer has zeroed in on the most important elements of the story. Additionally, since the original text was written for a post-World War II audience, with the mores of the time, some events would have to be changed.

For example, most of the characters in the original book were men. So, Goyer asked the estate how they would feel if a few characters were gender-flipped.

The estate responded positively, saying that "we think Asimov himself would have completely embraced that."

Rather than focus on a line-for-line adaptation of the book series 70 years later, Goyer said he focused on the characters, their motivations, and ensuring they led three-dimensional lives. For example, one character is time itself, with the writers embracing time jumps, forward and backward.

While "Foundation" as a tv series will appeal to diehard fans, Goyer hopes the story can appeal to wider audiences with a grounded and coherent base storyline. The drama of the characters needs to be translatable to a real-world version of itself, or else it won't attract people who aren't fans of the genre.

"If this doesn't work without the science fiction trappings, then that's not a story we're going to tell," Goyer says he told his writing staff, actors, and directors. "That was our true north for how we approached the show: this needs to be able to appeal to people who would not consider themselves fans of science fiction."

Goyer concludes his interview by stating that he believes that "Foundation" couldn't be more relevant in the wake of a global pandemic. He wants to tell a story that's got a message of hope.

"Foundation" arrives on Apple TV+ on September 24 with its first two episodes. There are ten episodes in total, with each one releasing each Friday after that. Subscribe to Apple TV+ for $4.99 per month or via any tier of the Apple One subscription service.

Read on AppleInsider
n2itivguy

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,172member
    It is the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire in space. The Foundation crew were the monks preserving knowledge. That is the core story.

    I do like that 
    "Whenever I'm adapting something, I read it again or watch it again, and I try to write down what I think the core ideas are, the essential ingredients," he told Gizmodo over video chat. "In this case, because Asimov wasn't alive, I was talking to his estate, to his daughter, and I said, I want to make sure that I've identified the core ingredients that make "Foundation," "Foundation." 

    ah well, time to renew the Apple TV+ subscription for a while.


    edited September 20 williamlondonWileEColiOfern2itivguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 20
    Since my free AppleTV+ is valid for another 8 months or so I will probably give this a watch...  although given how it appears to be little like the book I have my doubts.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 3 of 20
    entropys said:
    It is the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire in space. The Foundation crew were the monks preserving knowledge. That is the core story.

    I do like that 
    "Whenever I'm adapting something, I read it again or watch it again, and I try to write down what I think the core ideas are, the essential ingredients," he told Gizmodo over video chat. "In this case, because Asimov wasn't alive, I was talking to his estate, to his daughter, and I said, I want to make sure that I've identified the core ingredients that make "Foundation," "Foundation." 

    ah well, time to renew the Apple TV+ subscription for a while.


    The preservation of knowledge is actually NOT at all the core story, which you'll discover if you read the entire series. The preservation of knowledge was, instead, just a convenient cover for the true mission of the Foundation.
    shaminoh2pkingofsomewherehotn2itivguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 20
    Since my free AppleTV+ is valid for another 8 months or so I will probably give this a watch...  although given how it appears to be little like the book I have my doubts.
    Being little like the book[s] is most likely a very good thing. If you've read all or most of the Foundation novels, you'll recall that they are largely conversations between two people. That's a bit hard to sell as a blockbuster TV series, and would also be hard to write, and act, and hard for an audience to appreciate. Which is likely why Foundation has not been adapted for the screen up to now.
    OferStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 20
    The timing of this release couldn’t have been more perfect. 

    In my opinion, this show marks the beginning of the second chapter in the story of Apple TV+. The ending of the first chapter was extremely successful with Ted Lasso’s showing at the Emmy’s. I have been seeing stories about it everywhere today online and over the air, in places that aren’t known for their tech coverage. That will definitely bring new people looking to see what all the hype is about. As an added bonus, they will now have the heavily promoted Foundation to check out while they are there. If this show is as good as I think it will be, that will hopefully convince many to stick around longer. Plus, with the sheer volume of content that Apple has in the pipeline for 2022, the future certainly looks very bright for TV+.
    n2itivguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 20
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 1,033member
    I wonder if they’ll have three seasons.  Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation.  And of course, the most important question would be, who gets to play the Mule?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 20
    I sometimes feel a little bad that I won’t start watching any series before all its episodes are available (and I’m not the only one). Any beancounters watching for huge opening numbers needs to look for a secondary spike after the final episode ends, because that’s where watchers like me will come into the picture. So any decisions about whether a series will be picked up for another season also needs to accommodate streamer purists. (Watching a series dribbled out week-by-week is so 1997.)
    seanjwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 20
    entropys said:
    It is the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire in space. The Foundation crew were the monks preserving knowledge. That is the core story.
    Only superficially, and only for the stories in the first book.

    It gets far far more interesting as the story evolves.
    h2pkingofsomewherehotwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 20
    Since my free AppleTV+ is valid for another 8 months or so I will probably give this a watch...  although given how it appears to be little like the book I have my doubts.
    Being little like the book[s] is most likely a very good thing. If you've read all or most of the Foundation novels, you'll recall that they are largely conversations between two people. That's a bit hard to sell as a blockbuster TV series, and would also be hard to write, and act, and hard for an audience to appreciate. Which is likely why Foundation has not been adapted for the screen up to now.
    I have read the first book...  and maybe one other.  It's kind of like Dune in that the first novel was so good the second book just couldn't keep me engrossed.  My recollection of the first novel is that there are certainly (many) more than two characters, but the details elude me.  Perhaps any given "conversation" was simply between two individuals.  That said, if you don't believe a two person conversation can be good/engrossing try giving "My Dinner with Andre" a watch.  It is a movie which consists of a conversation between two people having dinner together.

    You may be right as to why Foundation has not been adapted before now, but it could also be due to producers and executives just not "getting" intelligent sci-fi (and that's assuming they get sci-fi at all).  There are numerous examples of outstanding Sci-Fi getting tossed aside, although in a few instances some are rescued.

    I do have high hopes for this, but given contemporary efforts in the genre, I will remain skeptical until the product sways me (or I give up on it).
    Ofer
  • Reply 10 of 20
    I do have high hopes for this, but given contemporary efforts in the genre, I will remain skeptical until the product sways me (or I give up on it).
    I highly recommend "Tenet" as a contemporary effort in the genre. Very much looking forward to watching the Foundation series; I haven't read the books yet, which makes for a nice change.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 20
    I do have high hopes for this, but given contemporary efforts in the genre, I will remain skeptical until the product sways me (or I give up on it).
    I highly recommend "Tenet" as a contemporary effort in the genre. Very much looking forward to watching the Foundation series; I haven't read the books yet, which makes for a nice change.
    You know...  I just might give "Tenet" a go.  The only negative I recall hearing about it had to do with the audio.  I really have enjoyed "The Expanse", but it declined after the first season or two.  Don't get me started on Firefly...

    Not having read the book might be an advantage.  Too often the film so differs from the source material that fans of the original (novel/cartoon/video game/comic/whatever) end up hating the movie.  I try to be fairly open minded (which goes against the general perception people have of me) when watching movies.  I enjoyed the 1984 Lynch "Dune" even though it was (in some ways) an abomination...  enjoyed it enough to buy the 4K which was just released.  I enjoyed the "Avatar" movie even if it paled compared to the cartoon.  Heck, I even like what is considered by many to be one of the worst movies of all time - "Alone in the Dark" (and I did enjoy the game back in the day).  I will keep an open mind to this adaptation too, but approach with a skeptical eye.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 20
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 1,033member
    I do have high hopes for this, but given contemporary efforts in the genre, I will remain skeptical until the product sways me (or I give up on it).
    I highly recommend "Tenet" as a contemporary effort in the genre. Very much looking forward to watching the Foundation series; I haven't read the books yet, which makes for a nice change.
    You know...  I just might give "Tenet" a go.  The only negative I recall hearing about it had to do with the audio.  I really have enjoyed "The Expanse", but it declined after the first season or two.  Don't get me started on Firefly...

    Not having read the book might be an advantage.  Too often the film so differs from the source material that fans of the original (novel/cartoon/video game/comic/whatever) end up hating the movie.  I try to be fairly open minded (which goes against the general perception people have of me) when watching movies.  I enjoyed the 1984 Lynch "Dune" even though it was (in some ways) an abomination...  enjoyed it enough to buy the 4K which was just released.  I enjoyed the "Avatar" movie even if it paled compared to the cartoon.  Heck, I even like what is considered by many to be one of the worst movies of all time - "Alone in the Dark" (and I did enjoy the game back in the day).  I will keep an open mind to this adaptation too, but approach with a skeptical eye.
    Concur about the audio in Tenet, it was awful.  Hard to understand what they were saying.  Admittedly, we watched it at home as a rental. The audio experience might have been better in a movie theater.  But, COVID.

    Here’s the real downer.  When we watched it again with subtitles we realized that we didn’t really miss much with the dialogue to begin with.  As high concept as it was, Tenet was a poorly scripted and edited movie.
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 20
    I do have high hopes for this, but given contemporary efforts in the genre, I will remain skeptical until the product sways me (or I give up on it).
    I highly recommend "Tenet" as a contemporary effort in the genre. Very much looking forward to watching the Foundation series; I haven't read the books yet, which makes for a nice change.
    God, I hope Foundation is better than Tenet. I thought that film was way over-hyped. Much too self-conscious and clever for its own good. I figured out the big twist ending extremely early on and just sat there for over 2 hours wondering what the big deal was. Great special effects, though. 
    hcrefugeewatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 20
    Been looking forward to this one. 
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 20
    I have not read the books and do not know the story. I am looking forward to watching this. 

    I plan on reading the books, just as as soon as I finish reading The Lord of the Rings for the umpteenth time!
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 20
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,580moderator
    Japhey said:
    In my opinion, this show marks the beginning of the second chapter in the story of Apple TV+. The ending of the first chapter was extremely successful with Ted Lasso’s showing at the Emmy’s. I have been seeing stories about it everywhere today online and over the air, in places that aren’t known for their tech coverage. That will definitely bring new people looking to see what all the hype is about. As an added bonus, they will now have the heavily promoted Foundation to check out while they are there. If this show is as good as I think it will be, that will hopefully convince many to stick around longer. Plus, with the sheer volume of content that Apple has in the pipeline for 2022, the future certainly looks very bright for TV+.
    This sounds like it's aiming to be Apple's Game of Thrones. Goyer the producer, who also wrote the Dark Knight Batman movies references Game of Thrones often and said:

    "with Foundation we can tell the story, hopefully, over the course of eighty episodes; eighty hours, as opposed to trying to condense it all into two or three hours for a single film"

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundation_(TV_series)#Writing

    The production values look really good.



    One big production like this can sell the platform on its own. If they do extend its production, it could be 1 season of 10 episodes per year for the next 8 years like how Game of Thrones was released:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Game_of_Thrones_episodes
    williamlondonStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 20
    Since my free AppleTV+ is valid for another 8 months or so I will probably give this a watch...  although given how it appears to be little like the book I have my doubts.
    Being little like the book[s] is most likely a very good thing. If you've read all or most of the Foundation novels, you'll recall that they are largely conversations between two people. That's a bit hard to sell as a blockbuster TV series, and would also be hard to write, and act, and hard for an audience to appreciate. Which is likely why Foundation has not been adapted for the screen up to now.
    Yep. Re-reading now and the first books is pretty dull, actually. I believe in subsequent books he tried to add more action besides exposition. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 20
    JWSC said:
    I wonder if they’ll have three seasons.  Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation.  And of course, the most important question would be, who gets to play the Mule?
    Show runner David Goyer envisions eight seasons of ten episodes each. The first season already has characters from the prequels.
    williamlondonApple’OSwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 20
    I sometimes feel a little bad that I won’t start watching any series before all its episodes are available (and I’m not the only one). Any beancounters watching for huge opening numbers needs to look for a secondary spike after the final episode ends, because that’s where watchers like me will come into the picture. So any decisions about whether a series will be picked up for another season also needs to accommodate streamer purists. (Watching a series dribbled out week-by-week is so 1997.)
    The bean counters don’t care much about a one time payment of $4.99 to quickly watch ten hours of programming and then sign out until next year. Moreover, they don’t much care about getting $9.98 for the two month original run of the shows. What they want is for you to have two months to become captivated by their other shows so you keep your subscription active.

    If the show isn’t captivating enough to attract a lot of weekly viewers, it can’t justify its extremely high production costs regardless of how many one month wonders there are.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 20
    Foundation, for me, was always about humanity’s perseverance through trials, not only for preservation, but also ultimately reaching a state of deliverance from them, though that quest was known only to a select few. I believe Mr. Asimov’s inherent grasp of Judeo-Christian eschatology inspired this work.
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
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