Why Foundation is surprisingly bad…

So, I’m two episodes in, and — despite amazing visuals and compelling acting — the Foundation (tv adaption) is surprisingly bad.

Whatever the difficulties of adapting the series, “what does a good TV episode look like?” is a solved problem. It’s very strange to see something crawl onto the screen plotted like a pre-school Nativity Play, but with better SFX and more judicial executions.

How would I have adapted Foundation?

There are logically only two ways to do it.

The first is to take the original books as a evolving setting, spawn lots of characters and do a sprawling GOT style series covering each phase. Let’s see people trying to adapt, survive or leverage a collapsing empire, for example, for a season. The overall arc may be predictable, but the individual stories can be wild.

The second is to be true to the original books, which were enjoyable because they were (a) dizzyingly sweeping and (b) brief. That would mean adding a handful of characters to the main arc, then giving us lots of 2-3-scene self-contained stories showing us what’s going on around the galaxy. We’d burn through the main arc in one explosive season.

What we have instead is an attempt to do the main arc by spawning pointless drama around it… “Oh nooos will settling be hard (will my baby have actual flippers?) OMG interpersonal drama! Oh a reversal of expectation that will have no impact on the epic-scoped story long term…”, padding things out to the point where it becomes ponderous.

There are other issues as well.

I’m not convinced the story works with the tech as presented. If you have a massive self-contained colony ship, why do you need to settle on a hell world? If you are living in a universe with amazing computing power, you probably don’t need an encyclopaedia, just repositories duplicated around the galaxy. They should have either plugged those plot holes, or just done it with retro Star Wars tech and not explained anything.

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