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Foundation (Asimov series)

Started by Dex Sawash, September 22, 2021, 10:25:33 AM

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mothman

It's really bizarre. I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt for now as just an SF TV series. But it's not Asimov. My working hypothesis is someone at Apple wanted to get the rights to Dune and either wires got crossed or they decided to buy a similarly legendary SF classic and tweak it to match. Fully expect someone to say "God created Terminus to train the faithful" at some point, especially if
Spoiler alert
they do use the "fake religion as a means of empire-building" storylines from the original novel
[close]
.

Alberon

Renewed for season 2.

No, I don't understand why either.

Chairman Yang

It's so boring and soooo badly conveyed, I keep having to lean on Wikipedia just to get a grasp on what the fuck is happening.

I'm also kind of amazed how, in spite of the cash thrown at the show, there's no sense of the actual infrastructure of the Empire. The only trade route leading to Terminus appears to be one guy and the business of the Foundation appears to be stalling until the events of The Encyclopedists start.

It's very boring, did I say that? It's extremely boring.

mothman

I'm sticking with this - assuming it ends before my year's free Apple TV subscription does. I'm trying to see if it actually goes anywhere.

But my God it's a car crash. I don't see anything of Asimov's work in it. For one thing, they've utterly failed to grasp the basics of Psychohistory. You have one character thinking she is the fulcrum on which history turns, and that Hari Seldon intended her to be so. THAT'S NOT HOW IT WORKS.

In an even more catastrophic dramatic choice, they have chosen to include a synthetic (robotic humaniform android) who displays NO evidence of operating with the Three Laws Of Robotics. That's ISAAC ASIMOV'S THREE LAWS. It's like Ken Loach's Superman film existing in real life.

If it had just been an original SF story, which it is apart from a few recycled names it might have been OK. It's not great but might have developed into something worthwhile over time - plenty of SF TV greats had rocky first seasons. By trying - barely - to be something it's not, it's doomed itself utterly.

Chairman Yang

Quote from: mothman on October 24, 2021, 07:00:23 PM
But my God it's a car crash. I don't see anything of Asimov's work in it. For one thing, they've utterly failed to grasp the basics of Psychohistory. You have one character thinking she is the fulcrum on which history turns, and that Hari Seldon intended her to be so. THAT'S NOT HOW IT WORKS.

I was raging! Hari kicking off with the 'if you don't do this one thing whole plan falls apart' patter! 'YoU hAvE to HAve FAith In tHE MATHs!' Fuck me.

Alberon

I ended up skipping through most of the fifth episode to get the plot points without the tedium. I suspect I'll do this to the rest of the series. It is a car crash of a TV series. I don't mind radical reinventions when transfering a book to the screen (they are very different mediums after all), but this is just awful.

Quote from: mothman on October 24, 2021, 07:00:23 PM
In an even more catastrophic dramatic choice, they have chosen to include a synthetic (robotic humaniform android) who displays NO evidence of operating with the Three Laws Of Robotics. That's ISAAC ASIMOV'S THREE LAWS. It's like Ken Loach's Superman film existing in real life.

Right, I'm going to need a lot of spoiler tags here.

Demerzel is an
Spoiler alert
alter ego of R. Daneel Olivaw - the first humanform robot. He (and he does present as male all the way through the books) is there right to the chronological end of the series in Foundation and Earth where he, after thousands of years, finally dies. He's arguably the most important single character in all of Asimov's universe. Importantly, though, before the events of Foundation he and another robot cook up a new law that superseeds the other three - The Zeroth Law.

A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

So a robot could kill a human if it benefitted mankind.
[close]

Not that I credit the TV showmakers with using this fact properly. They're fucking morons.

mothman

Yes, I know about Demerzel.
Spoiler alert
And, worse, while it's never stated (I don't think) in the books that Seldon's wife Dors Venabili is also a robot, it's obvious she is. So if they wanted a robot but a female one they already have a character ready-made. And yet...

That's not to say they couldn't make the character R. Daneel Olivaw a female analogue to begin with. It might even be an interesting change (think Starbuck in nuBSG) - but you'd think that they'd at least get a half-decent actress if that's the case. And I'll be honest the revelation that Demerzel is Olivaw means nothing to anyone who hasn't read the books, so I'm left wondering if her true identity would be more or less impactful if we already know the character is a robot?

As for the Zeroth Law, that could be being applied here but I think to reveal that as Eto D's driving motive then you need to reveal the other Laws first. Though the Cleons wouldn't want a servant that followed any Law apart from "Do what we tell you but don't ever kill US."
[close]

But as you say it's unlikely they've thought this through at all.

I almost don't want to go down that rabbit hole but I'm wondering what is being said about it out there? The high-profile bloggers, recappers and reviewers, are any of them covering this car crash?

Pinball

I guess the money is good for the Asimov estate, otherwise they would have surely shut this abomination down. A lot of people are also finding it hard to publically criticise this garbage because, well you know. This get out of jail free card is facilitating an awful lot of shit TV currently. Dire and irksome.

mothman

Not sure what you mean? Because he's dead? Didn't stop him getting #MeToo'ed for being gropey...

Dex Sawash


Never read any of this stuff. The lady who is the warden is very good at playing the part of the warden so I'll keep going. Felt bad for Gaal getting put down for 30 years in fetish gear.

Chollis

Quote from: mothman on October 24, 2021, 07:00:23 PM
they've utterly failed to grasp the basics of Psychohistory. You have one character thinking she is the fulcrum on which history turns, and that Hari Seldon intended her to be so. THAT'S NOT HOW IT WORKS.

Quote from: Chairman Yang on October 24, 2021, 08:14:16 PM
I was raging! Hari kicking off with the 'if you don't do this one thing whole plan falls apart' patter! 'YoU hAvE to HAve FAith In tHE MATHs!' Fuck me.

I haven't read them in like 12 years so couldn't really remember if this whole "resting on one individual" thing was how it played in the books? cos it felt a bit off.

this is dreadful stuff but i'll keep watching in the hope it gets better. all the stuff on Terminus has been a boring hot mess, the Emperor stuff is a little better. such a disappointment for what they could've done with the source material

mjwilson

Quote from: Pinball on October 24, 2021, 11:52:10 PM
I guess the money is good for the Asimov estate, otherwise they would have surely shut this abomination down. A lot of people are also finding it hard to publically criticise this garbage because, well you know.

Because nobody is watching Apple TV?

mothman

Or is it all the (rolls eyes) "woke" casting that makes people feel they can't criticise it? Because the cast are doing the best with what they have. I really feel bad for Clarke Peters though, The Wire this ain't. Wonder what Jared Harris makes of it, coming off the back of The Terror and Chernobyl...

Pinball

There is an obvious reason why these appalling casts and plots aren't being criticised, and why many programmes are being ruined by an ideological woke-itic overlay that has nothing to do with the source material, yet nothing is said.

Quality, and relevance to the source material have turned to shit.

The abomination of this utterly atrocious Foundation series is a superb case study on the matter, bearing minimal resemblance to Asimov's books. Quality and relevance are the issues. I wanted to watch Foundation.

Another example is Apple's 'Invasion'. It should be about alien invasion, but isn't (well maybe 5%). The fact that the very title is 'Invasion' makes this quite amusing actually.

Of course, no-one watches Apple TV, but still...

Alberon

Foundation isn't being ruined by wokeness. It was a work of its time (the first Foundation short story turns 80 next year) so there's nothing damaging having a bit more gender and racial diversity. But none of that protects it from criticism, nor do I think it's stopping anyone from doing so. In fact the show is slipping past with little notice.

What's doing the series in is a near total disregard of even the bare bones of the story arc which could be coped with if the writing wasn't so leaden and dismal.

Invasion seems to be trying to be doing something different, but the title highlights something more traditional and keys up the audience for other than what they're offered.

I've not seen 'See', but the remaining Apple offering is the very good 'For All Mankind' about an alternate space race where the Soviet Union beat the US to the moon.

Pinball

I partly agree, for sure. Foundation is basically not a very good show, but I do feel they have focused on other things apart from the source material, and it's clearly been a big distraction as the show is shit. I would rather they focus on the story rather than the demographics.

As for Invasion, it's a woke drama in some ways, with little to do with alien invasion. For example, the news snippets in the background refer to 'global terrorism' (clearly no-one has seen any aliens, really, when they are literally crashing into the ground?). The Iranian-American couple suffer racism from their neighbours ('why has your house not been attacked?' i.e. implying that terrorists left them alone), at the service station when they are trying to charge their Tesla a guy says 'this place isn't for you, Osama' etc. If that's not a woke drama, what is? Of course, they can make a drama about whatever they damn well please, but don't sell it to me as an alien invasion sci-fi series, literally in the title, when it's not.

Back to Foundation, much of the story line has another agenda that clearly has bugger all to do with Foundation. We can argue about what exactly is turning these TV series to shit, but something is, and there are many examples now.

mothman

As Alberon says, Foundation is slipping past without notice. I've not seen any criticism of its casting choices. Though I can be damn sure there is, just in the seamier parts of the Internet it's best to avoid.

I don't object to Salvor Hardin being a black woman, I object to her not acting anything like Salvor Hardin, in particular as part of a plot that bears no relation to the (granted) one story he appeared in.

As for Invasion, doubt I'll watch. But those "woke" elements that have you so exercised, they sound to me par for the course. Because if there's one thing the 21st century has shown us, it's that human beings do NOT come together when faced with a common enemy. Especially not Americans. If aliens invaded there, damn right they'd use it as a pretender to indulge in the same racism and bigotry and hate and suspicion of anyone (human) different to them which they display every other day of the week.

Alberon

Re: Invasion. I've not seen it, but it does seem to be trying for realist drama with the aliens as a backdrop. Sounds like they're trying to fit real-world racism (which, of course, absolutely exists) into the story. Nothing wrong with that. We've all seen or heard of small-minded bigotry and racism like the examples Pinball states in the show. But it doesn't sound like it's being done well.

It's not Wokeism (or Political Correctness as it used to be caused) causing the problem here IMO. So what is?

Peak television meaning too many series, too little talent?

mothman

Possibly. And yet while IATSE threaten to strike claiming the demand for content is overworking its members, technically these shows are well done; it's the writing where they're falling catastrophically short.

Pinball

I agree that it's far more about the quality than woke stuff, and perhaps unfair to blame the former on the latter, although I do feel it's been a major distraction for the writers. Also, as we are living in the culture wars, some escapist entertainment might be nice!

Alberon

Quote from: mothman on October 27, 2021, 01:55:01 PM
Possibly. And yet while IATSE threaten to strike claiming the demand for content is overworking its members, technically these shows are well done; it's the writing where they're falling catastrophically short.

That's what I was aiming at. Technically these sort of shows generally are very well done, but it does seem like the writing and characterisation is too often quite ropey.

mothman

Yeah, I got you. I'm trying to think of a recent streaming show where there were obvious technical issues that couldn't be put down simply to budget limitations; I can't think of any but then I guess it'd be hard to tell.

Jupiter Ascending - which I liked, personally; nobody else did - looked fantastic (and I thought had been well-adapted in a interesting way from the source comics). But as good as it looked, when you found out what it cost, no way was that money up on the screen.

Alberon

That's true, it can be hard to tell how good a show is in getting value for money.

A clearly much cheaper superhero show was Powers which was (I believe) the Playstation Network's one and only attempt at a drama. There the cheapness of the production showed through at times, like a skyscraper rooftop ended up looking like the roof set from Garth Marengi's Darkplace and characters flying often looking quite silly.

Famous Mortimer

I don't think Asimov's stories are of the tier of quality where you wouldn't want to make any changes to bring them to TV - they're often fine, and he had some great ideas, of course, but they're pulp entertainment, with all the good and bad things that involves.

Without this thread, I'd forget it's even on, so I'd suggest a bigger problem than people hating it is is people ignoring it (which a lot of other people in this thread have said, sorry). It does feel a little like they went a fairly long way down a list of "best genre novels to adapt" before they got to Foundation, though.

mothman

I think what keeps (a few of) us watching is some assumption there is method in this madness. Of course the source material couldn't be dramatised verbatim, it's far too dry. At best it can be used as the skeleton and fleshed out - but if that's what they're doing, then why does it appear they're ignoring the skeleton itself while doing so?

One motive that occurs to me is that it feels like Asimov's own perspective changed over time (so, through Foundation, Empire and Second - although doubts set in, especially in the conflict between the Traders and Terminus which is derailed by the Mule). At the start it was fairly straightforward, rebuild galactic civilisation after a crash. But by Edge and Earth (and in Prelude and Forward) it's plain he's wondering, what exactly are the Foundation trying to recreate or revive? Is another centrally controlled, impersonal, often despotic Empire the best thing for humanity? I'm not sure anyone is convinced Galaxia is the answer, nor even by the rationale for it that Trevize concocts.

... so maybe the adaptation has been driven by this kind of thinking. Though one questions the wisdom of showing the evils and shortcomings of a galactic empire by having it run by three weirdo clones.

Famous Mortimer

That's actually a solid idea, and I'd be interested in that.

I read the entire future history "series" when I was a teenager (from "I Robot" to "The End Of Eternity") and thoroughly enjoyed them. Also, the Soviet movie of "The End Of Eternity" is pretty good, even if it does mess with the characters a bit.

EDIT: Heck, you can even watch the Hungarian 1976 TV movie of the same story, if you know the lingo (no subtitles).

Pinball

I'd like to watch a dry verbatim dramatisation. The radio 'dry' version was flipping excellent. Asimov was a great writer. The muppets at Apple.. not so much. It's also really sad that Apple spends so much on these series, and yet so few people watch them. I wonder what % viewers have torrented it? And what % then think- thank God I didn't pay for this shit?

mjwilson

Had a trailer for this in the cinema last weekend and it was very underwhelming. Terrible promotion.

Is Chris Chibnall working on it?

mothman

It's been renewed for a second season (the mind boggles) and he's going to be looking for work soon, so anything's possible.

Pinball

I wonder whose legacy Apple will piss on next?