'Foundation' could take 70 episodes or more to tell the whole story

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Writer and showrunner David Goyer says his adaptation of "Foundation" for Apple TV+ is only possible thanks to modern streaming standards, with shows spanning multiple seasons to tell one story culled from many novels.

'Foundation' premieres Friday, September 24 on Apple TV+
'Foundation' premieres Friday, September 24 on Apple TV+


"Foundation" has been called the greatest science-fiction series ever written, and its grand scope made it difficult for adaptation until now. David Goyer says he found a way to capture the story written by Issac Asimov without losing necessary detail, though it may take several seasons.

Sony Senior Director, SIE Content Communications Sid Shuman sat down with Goyer in an interview about the show, how it was made, and the scale of the project. Goyer had been offered the opportunity to make "Foundation" a film twice in his career, but he felt the medium wasn't suitable for such a story.

What changed is the emergence of streaming services and premiere television like "Game of Thrones." Multiple novelistic adaptations have been released in the last decade, showcasing the format that enables stories to expand, not condense to fit the space.

"So the idea of telling this story across 70 episodes, or 80 episodes, that was really appealing to me," Goyer said. "We don't even get all the way through the first book in the first season. We can take our time, and really dig into the characters. The books were light on emotion, they were more about ideas and philosophy. But I think when people watch these shows, what hooks them are the emotion and the characters."

"Foundation" isn't an exact retelling of Asimov's book series, since many of his stories were about ideas, with events taking place behind the scenes of the actual story. However, Goyer spoke with the Asimov estate and verified he had zeroed in on the most important elements of the story and got permission to change some key aspects like character gender for modernization.

For example, the Genetic Dynasty is Goyer's invention for the show. It is an expression of the rigidity of the Empire described in the book series.

"Well, what if the Empire is the same Emperor cloning himself again and again and again, and imposing his ego across the galaxy," Goyer said of the Genetic Dynasty. "That was my way of exploring Asimov's theme. And that led to all these interesting character things we could do with the Emperor. It allowed me to depict the Emperors as monsters, but also these sympathetic figures who were desperate to individuate themselves, who were living in the shadow of Cleon I. That approach was kind of, in a microscope, my approach to the series writ large."

For the first season, the main character Gaal is the viewer's way of learning about the universe thanks to her inexperience. As a result, viewers will be able to embody the main character as she departs her planet, travels in a spaceship, and folds space for the first time.





"Foundation" premieres on Apple TV+ Friday, September 24. Customers can subscribe for $4.99 per month or via any tier of the Apple One subscription bundle.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    Assuming it doesn't get cancelled first. This is the same David Goyer who brought us such gems as Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and (wait for it) the 1998 Nick Fury: Agent of Shield.
  • Reply 2 of 8
    This is not a new concept in TV storytellings, just more accepted now. Babylon 5 did this 30 years ago. 
    JinTechbikerdudeJWSCwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 8
    bedmison said:
    This is not a new concept in TV storytellings, just more accepted now. Babylon 5 did this 30 years ago. 
    Sort of? Babylon 5 wasn't based on Novels.
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 8
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,763member
    It’s strange. I used to read a lot of science fiction, I loved, and still do, the genre. I loved Babylon 5 and star trek. I think I read almost everything Asimov, and Clark, and Heinlein, and the rest put out. When I came across the Foundation Trilogy I was really excited. I got ahold of the first book and sat down to read.

    And really hated it. 

    I don’t know why, I honestly don’t. And at this point I only vaguely remember the story. All I do remember was thinking I had wasted a weekend, but was glad I had only gotten the first book. 

    So I’ll pass on this. But you have fun with it. 
  • Reply 5 of 8
    Same with Dune. And that doesn’t count the books Frank Herbert’s son Brian wrote using his father’s notes and unpublished manuscripts. 
    As a side note, Asimov’s non-fiction books are great. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 8
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 1,026member
    bedmison said:
    This is not a new concept in TV storytellings, just more accepted now. Babylon 5 did this 30 years ago. 
    I loved Babylon 5.  Great story arc, cast, and CGI visuals.  Never quite understand why they changed out Michael O’Hare for Bruce Boxleitner but it was great that they brought O’Hare back for a few key episodes.  Only quibble is that they could have ended the story at the end of season 4 without Season 5, which seemed tacked on.

    What sucked was that the station that aired the show in 
    Cleveland, close to where I lived at the time, wasn’t getting advertising dollars due to low viewership during the last couple of seasons.  Unbelievably, they ran first run episodes at 2 in the morning.  I stayed up to watch.
    edited September 23 watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 8
    JWSC said:
    bedmison said:
    This is not a new concept in TV storytellings, just more accepted now. Babylon 5 did this 30 years ago. 
    I loved Babylon 5.  Great story arc, cast, and CGI visuals.  Never quite understand why they changed out Michael O’Hare for Bruce Boxleitner but it was great that they brought O’Hare back for a few key episodes.  Only quibble is that they could have ended the story at the end of season 4 without Season 5, which seemed tacked on.

    What sucked was that the station that aired the show in Cleveland, close to where I lived at the time, wasn’t getting advertising dollars due to low viewership during the last couple of seasons.  Unbelievably, they ran first run episodes at 2 in the morning.  I stayed up to watch.
    I believe replacing Sinclare with Sheridan was part of the planned story arc. He had written out a literal book with the outline of each episode and the overall plan for the series. I will agree with you about season 5. I understand he wanted to tie up any loose ends and wrap up the story, but yeah it felt like an appendix. 

    We managed to catch the first four seasons on regular broadcast at a reasonable time. But then Season 5 jumped to a cable channel we didn't have. It was a couple of years before we saw it. We ended up binging it when we had the chance. 
  • Reply 8 of 8
    I've watched the first episode. If it continues along this path it will be really, really good.
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
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