Empire reviews Apple TV+ series ‘Foundation’: ‘Lavish, jaw-dropping, breathtakingly bold’

Based on the award-winning novels by Isaac Asimov, “Foundation” chronicles a band of exiles on their monumental journey to save humanity and rebuild civilization amid the fall of the Galactic Empire. The new series, courtesy of David S. Goyer, premiered exclusively on Apple TV+ on September 24th.

“Foundation” debuted globally on September 24th, exclusively on Apple TV+.
“Foundation” debuted globally on September 24th, exclusively on Apple TV+.

James Dyer for Empire:

With a budget that would put most blockbusters to shame, Foundation may be the most lavish show on television, combining jaw-dropping production design with stunning location shoots in Iceland, Berlin and the Canary Islands that give the disparate worlds a tactile realism green-screen alone would not provide. But while it delivers in both scope and spectacle, Foundation is not for the faint-hearted. This is a slice of rock-hard sci-fi that tickles the intellect with concepts both philosophical and profound; one that routinely hops back and forth through decades and sometimes centuries. Goyer’s vision for Foundation is an eight-series adaptation, and the prospect of an 80-hour, epoch-spanning yarn won’t be to everyone’s tastes. But for those willing to take it on, Foundation’s debut season is a breathtakingly bold undertaking that will dazzle just as much as it confounds, and lays its own foundation for what may prove the most ambitious television yet.

Mind-bogglingly epic, this is classic sci-fi writ large — a deep (if dense) vision of the future, rendered with all the gloss and spectacle of a big-screen event movie.

MacDailyNews Take: We’re signed up for the long haul!

19 Comments

  1. Funny that the reviewing publication is called Empire ✨

    It may be “rock-hard” sci-fi, but this story is ultimately about the characters. Not about starships and the “science.” That’s why something written before much of our current modern technology is recognizable and believable as the distant future. The look of the show reminds me of what I’ve seen in trailers for the upcoming Dune (movie), the other epic sci-fi saga of the distant future. We get both, the TV show and movie franchise, running in parallel!

  2. First 2 episodes are plodding dull and poorly presented. The effects are great though. It’s tough to cram the entire Foundation book series into a TV show so I have a lot of sympathy. Some of the deviations from the book are understandable.

    My problem is some of the deviations seem made just for the sake of being woke. This show feels like it’s just aching to be another woke piece of crap in apple’s line up. This happened with For All Man Kind where the first season you could kind of bear through the flashes of bs woke’ism and then in the later season it just went full bore woke and I stopped watching it.

    Judging a show like this from early episodes is tough. So much backstory to introduce, it’s difficult to do it well. It reminds me of Expanse. Another good sci-fi series crammed into a TV show. The TV show was SUPER choppy. Some seasons were PAINFUL to watch, and then the next season would get good. It never quite finds that rhythm and oscillates from sucking to being good several times.

    I hope Foundation improves and avoids the woke crap that plagues most of TV+.

    1. Agreed — we get it, Gaal Dornick is a genius, even more of one than Hari Seldon. It’s a new trope — the young woman of color is automatically SO MUCH BETTER than the white man whose been working on something his whole life.

      And honestly I wouldn’t even mind that, if it was EARNED. But it’s not. We know Gaal is a genius because…everyone tells us she’s a genius. She makes everyone look like fools, she’s so smart. Over and over. The writers have “tell, don’t show” down pretty well.

      And the dialog is inane and stilted. I was looking forward to this, but am gonna have to give it a hard pass.

      1. Just out of curiosity, what does it take (on a fictional tv show) for a young woman of colour to earn the title of genius? I would love an example of this “trope” done “right.”

        Yes, it would be perhaps better for the storytelling to show more of her backstory, which seems to be the reason everyone thinks she is a genius, but then the plot of the first 2 episodes would be very different. Why do we believe Hari is a genius if not because we are told to believe it?

        In the end, this is fiction. And not the worst fiction I’ve watched recently.

        1. Well, for one, they could show her doing genius things. Like coming up with a theorem that enhances Harry’s work and furthers it. She could invent something. She could do something other than swim laps and then OCD primes as if that is somehow a proxy for being a genius and not a deep psychological problem.

          1. Well, that’s a pretty tall order for the first 2 episodes IMO. And the whole reason she left her planet was because she solved a 500 year old math problem. On a planet where studying math makes you some sort of criminal, or apostate.

            And yet the residents of this planet that persecutes the learning of math are all people of colour, and most of the people in positions of power and influence are white. Including Hari. That doesn’t seem very woke to me.

            But the truth is more likely that the producers and directors include diverse actors to help remind the viewer that people who look different probably come from different planets. Battlestar Galactica(2004?) did this, Star Trek from the 90’s did this, the Hunger Games did this.

            Lastly, I have known some crazy talented people in my life, and many of them have had some pretty deep psychological issues, including OCD, depression, terrible disorganization, etc. It is common in the TV/Film industry to lump these things together, though perhaps unfair. That picture of Albert Einstein sticking out his tongue has influenced people (subconsciously) into thinking that geniuses are a “little crazy.”

            So I’ll ask more directly: Have you seen a show that does this “trope” in a way that you like? If you can’t, then I think “Woke” has nothing to do with it, you just don’t like the show.

    2. Thanks for the honest review… when I first heard Apple was doing this, I was worried about the “woke-ism” and being true to Asimov’s story. Written as short stories in the 50s, it was a story set in the future but clearly about the present, coming out of WWII and entering the Cold War.

      Even Empire’s review goes off track a bit. It was not a band of exiles. For those that know the story, Hari Seldon, very consciously set that group off to the edge of the Galaxy. Like you, I avoid both News+ and TV+ because all I want is high quality stories, not editorials and propaganda.

      Curious if they started with Foundation and stuck to the Trilogy or added in Prelude and some of Asimov’s follow-on stories. Of course, I could really go on a rant and connect these to the Robot books, too, but I won’t!!!! 🤣

      1. It’s is own story with roughly just the main points. Then even got , or purposely did certain details wrong. From the novels Foundation’s galaxy population of 500 quadrillion (500k trillion) people and 25 million inhabited worlds. But they only go by maybe 10,000 worlds and 8 trillion people. Supposedly the first season is the first 100 pages of just the first Foundation novel. But of course filler of slightly related or switched around gender swapped characters, and any excuse to insert woke preaching.

    3. “the flashes of bs woke’ism and then in the later season it just went full bore woke and I stopped watching it.”

      Unfortunately, you’re right, episode 3 today so far went more woke bs scene by scene particularly in the latter half. the first half was better but still a slight jab at white rulers’ poor clinging to legacy aided by their robot android lady. Fine, ok a black woman as “Salvor Hardin”, but why so young, why always young black women like Mickey Burnnumb of ST:D taking over the galaxy preaching how white guys are always fools or making the wrong decisions.

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