We knew there would come a time when a title would attempt to usurp 'Game of Thrones' as one of the most talked-about and highly-acclaimed TV series ("highly-acclaimed" that is, except for that disastrous final season), but we just didn't expect it to arrive so quickly, nor that it would take the form of a space odyssey.
Hedging its bets as what Apple TV+ is hoping will be one of their most popular creations yet, 'Foundation' tackles Isaac Asimov's collection of science-fiction novels and attempts to craft an ingenious storyline that has been decades in the making. But does it work? For the most part, yes.
Asimov's fictional works have gone down in history as one of the original sci-fi creations, influencing the likes of 'Star Wars', 'Dune' and practically any other space or time creation you can think of. The groundbreaking series follows Hari Seldon (Jared Harris), who is a mathematical genius with the ability to predict the future, essentially, using his mathematical skills. Alongside the arrival of his protege and eventual successor Gaal (played by newcomer Lou Llobell), they have discovered that the Empire will fall, followed by a 30,000-year period of turmoil. Hari has a plan in place that would see this gap be reduced significantly, but first, he has to convince the Galactic Empire that it will happen.
The all-powerful Galactic Empire (headed up by an unnerving Lee Pace) doesn't at first believe Hari's cried for help, convinced he and his sidekick are heretics. However, his mind is changed once certain events unfold, and Hari and Gaal must now help preserve the millions of planets and billions of beings across the galaxy for the next people who will rebuild life thousands of years in the future. There's also this mysterious floating embryo-shaped object which will probably play a major part in the series going forward.
Confused? Yes, just a little. The reason why Asimov's literature has taken so long to be brought to the screen is simply that the storyline sprawls thousands of years, which would make any filmmaker queasy at the thoughts of adapting it. However, co-creators David S. Goyer (The 'Dark Knight' trilogy') and Josh Friedman (Netflix's 'Snowpiercer') have enough ammunition in their back catalogues to ease the confusing storyline and make it much more linear viewing experience for TV.
While the first couple of episodes will still initially feel a little confusing at times (especially the Empire's Brother Day, Dawn and Dusk), things will start to make more sense as you ease into episode two and beyond. When you think about it, it's very rare that a TV series such as this makes sense right off the bat, so our advice is to be patient and give these various characters room to breathe. Allow them to, ahem, lay the foundation.
What is apparent throughout the series is just how compelling it all looks. Apple has pushed a significant amount of money towards the series, and it shows. From the costume design to the vast set pieces and the believable greenscreen sequences - it all looks so luscious and opulent.
It's hard to judge a TV series of this magnitude when you're only allowed to review two episodes out of ten - but 'Foundation' has, so far, intrigued us enough to make us want to keep tuning in each week. A beautiful yet puzzling series, we're sure Goyer and Friedman know exactly what they're doing - it's already been given a second season. Should this get the audience it deserves, 'Foundation' could be the next 'Game of Thrones'. Watch this *cough* space.
The first two episodes of 'Foundation' are available now on Apple TV+. A new episode will arrive each week, culminating with the series finale on November 19.