ADAPTING ASIMOV FOR TV
By Michael Ahr
Isaac Asimov’s Foundation is as classic as science fiction gets, and Apple TV+ took on the daunting task of adapting the space epic for the small screen.
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Asimov originally wrote Foundation as a series of short stories in the 1940s and later stitched them together to create his first trilogy in the 50s.
Both the novel and the TV show begin by introducing Hari Seldon (Jared Harris) who has used math to predict the coming fall of the Galactic Empire.
But Asimov’s story immediately leaps forward 50 years, leaving plenty of room for the television adaptation to fill in some gaps with its own story.
Seldon’s protege, Gaal Dornick (Lou Llobell), takes on a more complex backstory and joins the foundation, whose mission is to preserve all human knowledge during the impending dark ages.
The adaptation also dives much deeper into the point of view of the emperor, who in this iteration is a trio of clones led by Brother Day (Lee Pace) in a departure from the novels.
Whereas the time jump in the books shows us the start of the empire’s fall, the TV show reveals interplanetary strife right from the start during a terrorist attack on the emperor’s home planet.
The imperial advisor, Eto Demerzel (Laura Birn), is a character that Asimov created for his second trilogy written in the 1980s, but the adaptation introduces her earlier here.
Seldon’s foundation is established on Terminus at the galaxy’s edge, and its future is told in a parallel story featuring Salvor Hardin (Leah Harvey) as the planet’s warden.
Each planet, from the vast waters of Dornick’s religiously repressed home planet of Synnax to the metal sky of the imperial seat on Trantor, is beautifully rendered for the visual medium.
By building upon the skeleton of Asimov’s original exposition, Foundation can adapt and even enrich the source material upon which it is based.
Want to stream Foundation? Watch for FREE with our exclusive AppleTV+ trial.