by Isaac Asimov
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||10|
|Running time||45–69 minutes|
|Original network||Apple TV+|
|Audio format||Dolby Atmos|
|Original release||September 24, 2021 –|
Foundation is an American science fiction streaming television series created by David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman for Apple TV+, loosely based on the Foundation series of stories by Isaac Asimov. It features an ensemble cast led by Jared Harris and Lee Pace. Foundation premiered on September 24, 2021.
In October 2021, the series was renewed for a second season.
Foundation chronicles "...the thousand-year saga of The Foundation, a band of exiles who discover that the only way to save the Galactic Empire from destruction is to defy it."
On June 27, 2017, it was reported that Skydance Television was developing a television series adaptation of Isaac Asimov's science fiction book series Foundation with David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman serving as the production's writers. At the time of the report, the production company was in the midst of closing a deal with Asimov's estate for the rights to the book series. On April 10, 2018, it was announced that Apple, through their Worldwide Video Unit, had bought the series and put it into development with the potential for a straight-to-series order. It was further announced that Goyer and Friedman were also expected to serve as executive producers and showrunners. Other executive producers announced included David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, and Marcy Ross.
On August 23, 2018, it was announced that Apple had given the production a series order for a first season consisting of ten episodes. It was also announced that Asimov's daughter, Robyn Asimov, would serve as an executive producer. On April 18, 2019, Josh Friedman left as co-writer and co-showrunner. On July 28, 2019, it was revealed that Troy Studios in Limerick, Ireland, would host production of the show. According to Screen Ireland the series would create more than 500 production jobs at the studio. Asimov's daughter, Robyn Asimov, provides familial assistance to the series. Goyer pitched the series in one sentence: "It’s a 1,000-year chess game between Hari Seldon and the Empire, and all the characters in between are the pawns, but some of the pawns over the course of this saga end up becoming kings and queens." On October 7, 2021, Apple TV+ renewed the series for a second season.
In January 2021, Goyer stated "with Foundation we can tell the story, hopefully, over the course of eighty episodes; eighty hours, as opposed to trying to condense it all into two or three hours for a single film". Goyer said that this format might not succeed, but if it did it would be unique. David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman were set as the production's writers; however, Friedman left as co-writer in April 2019. Goyer also noted that telling a story that took place over 1,000 years was something a film could not accomplish and would have been a harder story to tell in that format.
Lee Pace and Jared Harris play Brother Day and Hari Seldon, respectively. Lou Llobell stars as Gaal, a mathematical genius from a rural, repressed planet. Leah Harvey as Salvor, the protective and intuitive warden of a remote outer planet. Laura Birn stars as Eto Demerzel, the enigmatic aide to the Emperor of the Galaxy. Terrence Mann stars as Brother Dusk, the eldest living member of the ruling family. Cassian Bilton plays Brother Dawn, the youngest living member of the ruling family and next in line to be Brother Day. In a June 2021 trailer, Alfred Enoch was revealed as part of the cast. New characters Brother Day, Brother Dusk, and Brother Dawn are original characters created for the series. Each is a different-aged clone in the "genetic dynasty" of the Emperor Cleon I: the youngest clone is called Dawn, the middle clone and reigning emperor is called Day, and the emperor emeritus is called Dusk.
On March 12, 2020, Apple suspended production of the show in Ireland due to COVID-19. On October 6, filming was resumed. On January 27, 2021, Goyer announced that after quarantining and receiving special waivers from the government of Malta, cast and crew members were allowed to start filming on the island. Goyer noted, filming was always planned to be conducted in Malta; however, due to new restrictions imposed in London, they moved significant portions of production to Malta. Filming in Malta concluded in February 2021. Filming in Tuineje, Fuerteventura was already wrapped by March 2021. The production team worked in volcanic landscapes such as the Caldera de los Arrabales and Granja de Pozo Negro. The production team then moved to Tenerife, where filming resumed on March 22, 2021. Filming concluded in April 2021 after 19 months.
|No.||Title ||Directed by||Written by ||Original release date |
|1||"The Emperor's Peace"||Rupert Sanders||David S. Goyer & Josh Friedman||September 24, 2021|
|In the year 12,067 E.I. (Era Imperial), the prodigy Gaal Dornick travels from her academically-repressive homeworld of Synnax to Trantor, capital of the Galactic Empire, to study under the famed Hari Seldon, the creator of the predictive mathematical subfield of psychohistory, as a reward for solving a complex conjecture. They are both arrested on charges of treason; Seldon because his model predicts the imminent collapse of the Empire due in part to the stagnation caused by four centuries of rule by clones of Emperor Cleon I, and Dornick because the Empire wants her to discredit psychohistory. Dornick instead confirms Seldon's model during his trial and condemns them both, but they are spared by Brother Day (Emperor Cleon XII) after the Starbridge, Trantor's space elevator, is destroyed by apparent terrorists from the feuding Periphery kingdoms of Anacreon and Thespis. Brother Day exiles Seldon and Dornick to the Periphery world of Terminus, where they are to build the "Foundation", a repository of human knowledge that Seldon claims will shorten the dark age after the Empire's demise from thirty thousand years to a single millennium.|
|2||"Preparing to Live"||Andrew Bernstein||Josh Friedman & David S. Goyer||September 24, 2021|
|Seldon and his followers proceed to Terminus aboard a slow starship, the Deliverance, and prepare for their new lives on the barren world. A year into the trip (12,068 E.I.), Dornick reveals to her lover, Seldon's adopted son Raych, that the psychohistory model is incomplete, alarming him. One night, Dornick finds Raych fatally stabbing Seldon in his quarters. Raych then ushers the incredulous Dornick into an escape pod with the murder weapon and jettisons her from the ship. Meanwhile, the Empire investigates the Starbridge attack, but is unable to identify its mastermind, or conclusively attribute it to Seldon or the governments of Anacreon and Thespis. Despite Brother Dusk (Cleon XI) urging that the detained delegations from the two kingdoms should be granted clemency, Brother Day opts for a public execution of all delegates except the two ambassadors, simultaneous with orbital bombardments of their homeworlds.|
|3||"The Mathematician's Ghost"||Alex Graves||Olivia Purnell||October 1, 2021|
|Nineteen years after the Starbridge attack (12,086 E.I.), the genetic dynasty of Cleon I undertakes its traditional transfer of power: Cleon XIV is born as the new Brother Dawn, Cleon XIII is elevated as Brother Day, Cleon XII retires as Brother Dusk, and Cleon XI assumes the mantle of Brother Darkness before being euthanized. In 12,072 E.I., Seldon's followers arrive at Terminus and discover the Vault, an enigmatic artifact guarded by a "null field" that repels all life. In the present day (12,102 E.I.), the Foundation is well-established and Salvor Hardin, a second-generation colonist, serves as Warden of Terminus. Hardin is troubled by the sudden expansion of the Vault's null field, but a larger crisis looms as corvettes from Anacreon appear in Terminus's skies in open violation of Imperial sanctions. In the hours before the ships' arrival, Hardin chases a child into the scuttled Deliverance and finds herself surrounded by an Anacreon landing party.|
|4||"Barbarians at the Gate"||Alex Graves||Lauren Bello||October 8, 2021|
|The Cleon lineage faces a threat to its legitimacy as Zephyr Halima Ifa, a leading candidate to become the next Proxima of the major religion of Luminism, revives an orthodox, pre-Imperial dogma that asserts clones of an individual do not possess souls. This religious issue and a violent "Sinker" insurrection in the still-ruined lower levels of Trantor fulfill two key portents of the Empire's decline that Hari Seldon related at his trial. Brother Day grows frustrated with Brother Dusk, feeling his elder seeded these problems decades ago by acting impulsively and refusing to heed Seldon's warnings. While Day departs Trantor to attend the Luminist Conclave and back Ifa's competitor, Dusk orders Commander Dorwin to visit the Foundation, which has fallen silent. On Terminus, Hardin outwits the Anacreons and captures their leader, Grand Huntress Phara Keaen, who claims to only want the colony ship's navigation computer so her people can find a new homeworld. Anacreon soldiers surround Terminus City's perimeter fence and assemble a flak cannon. The Vault also begins giving Hardin sporadic visions of a child in Trantor's Imperial Library, where Seldon worked. In deep space, a ship encounters Gaal Dornick's escape pod.|
|5||"Upon Awakening"||Alex Graves||Leigh Dana Jackson||October 15, 2021|
|In the past, on Synnax, Gaal Dornick is forced to execute her former teacher, who was caught salvaging books from a condemned university. Disillusioned with the Seer's Church, she educates herself in secret and enters a math competition. In the present, Dornick awakens after 34 years of cryosleep and finds herself aboard the fully-automated starship Raven, which had been prepared by Raych. She learns that Raych was executed for murdering Hari, and the galaxy believes her to be an accomplice to the crime. After deducing that the Raven is bound for Hari's homeworld of Helicon, she stumbles across a wounded yet seemingly alive Hari. At Terminus, the Imperial ship Aegis carrying Commander Dorwin enters orbit and detects the Anacreon presence. Dorwin is informed of the captive Phara and demands to speak with her, causing the Foundation staff to bring her from her cell to Foundation Tower. Once inside, Phara disables Terminus City's fence and reveals her true purpose is to destroy the Foundation in revenge for the Empire's neutron bombing of Anacreon, which had killed her parents and brother. The Anacreon soldiers storm the city, and their flak cannon shoots down the Aegis.|
|6||"Death and the Maiden"||Jennifer Phang||Marcus Gardley||October 22, 2021|
|Brother Day arrives at The Maiden, the holy moon at the center of the Luminist faith. He undermines Zephyr Halima by pledging to build a moon-wide desalination system in honor of the moderate Zephyr Gilat, but Halima gains the upper hand with a galvanizing eulogy of the late Proxima Opal that subtly criticizes Imperial cloning. On Trantor, Brother Dawn pursues a romance with Azura Odili, a palace gardener, and bares his deepest secret: he inexplicably has minor genetic traits, such as color blindness, that differentiate him from all previous Cleon clones. On Terminus, the Anacreons recover Dorwin from the wreckage of the Aegis and round up colonists with the skills necessary to repair and crew the Invictus, a long-lost Imperial warship that Phara's people rediscovered and plan to use to attack the Empire. Salvor escapes the city with the help of two children, and decides to take out the Anacreon corvettes to strand Phara. During the mission, Salvor is struck with a vision revealing the murder of Hari Seldon was part of Seldon's plan for the Foundation, but the escape pod Gaal took had been intended for Raych. In Salvor's absence, her father Abbas sacrifices himself to blow up the corvettes. Salvor and her lover, the Thespin trader Hugo, are later captured by Phara. Salvor is forced to pilot Hugo's ship, the Beggar, to the Anthor Belt with the captive colonists.|
|7||"Mysteries and Martyrs"||Jennifer Phang||Caitlin Saunders||October 29, 2021|
|Salvor and Phara's party board and explore the 700-year old ghost ship Invictus, but not without casualties; among others, Hugo drifts off during the spacewalk crossing from the Beggar, and Dorwin is killed by Phara after he unseals the vessel. With the Invictus only hours away from making a random jump to a potentially lethal destination, the dwindling group of Anacreons and colonists proceeds to the bridge to take control. On The Maiden, Brother Day is agitated by his inability to rein in the defiant Halima, but decides he can upstage her by undertaking Luminism's most sacred pilgrimage. On Trantor, Azura asks Brother Dawn, who lives in constant fear of being replaced by another clone should his uniqueness be exposed, to consider running away with her. Aboard the Raven, the living Hari Seldon is revealed to be a digital copy of the deceased Hari's consciousness. The copy had been stored in the knife Raych used to kill him, and then was uploaded into the ship when Gaal was found. Hari explains that Gaal and Raych's unexpected relationship had disrupted his plans for the Foundation: Hari was to commit suicide to mythologize himself, Raych was to bring the knife to the Raven, and Gaal was to lead the Foundation through its first crisis on Terminus. Hari had persuaded Raych to murder him instead in order to force the couple's separation. Gaal's outrage at her mentor's manipulation is momentarily quelled by the revelation that she possesses a latent ability: prescience.|
|8||"The Missing Piece"||Roxann Dawson||Sarah Nolen||November 5, 2021|
|The group on the Invictus finally reaches the bridge. Meanwhile, Hugo safely arrives at a comms relay and calls for help from his people. Just as the Thespins attack, and Phara and Salvor fight each other, the Invictus jumps into the unknown. On the Raven, Hari divulges his plan to establish a secret second Foundation on Helicon, nicknamed "Star's End" due its orbit around a black hole, but refuses to elaborate. Irate and impatient, Gaal forces Hari to let her leave in the escape pod, and she sets a course for Synnax that will take 138 years to elapse. Brother Day completes the Spiral, a torturous trek to a desert cave pool, and claims to have received a vision of a sacred flower from Luminism's triple-goddess. The Zephyrs interpret Day's vision as a divine pronouncement that he has a soul, rendering any further criticism of Imperial cloning by a Luminist to be sacrilege, and also guaranteeing Zephyr Gilat's elevation to Proxima. Day seals his victory by commanding his robot majordomo, Eto Demerzel, to covertly assassinate Halima. Demerzel is a devout Luminist who respects Halima and is greatly distressed by the command, but she is compelled to obey by her programming. As they leave The Maiden behind, Day reflects on his experience in the cave, revealing he had no vision at all, and a tearful Demerzel signals to him that she is aware of the deception and disapproves.|
|9||"The First Crisis"||Roxann Dawson||Victoria Morrow||November 12, 2021|
|The Invictus appears over Terminus due to the sacrifice of Foundation director Lewis Pirenne, who plugged himself into the ship's systems at the last second. Salvor joyfully reunites with Hugo, then descends to Terminus to deactivate the Vault, which has enveloped all of the planet in its null field. On Trantor, Brother Dawn realizes Brother Dusk knows his secret and escapes into Trantor's depths to find Azura, but he falls into the waiting hands of a conspiracy. All along, Azura was part of an anti-Empire group that had altered Dawn's DNA, giving him imperfections with the expectation he would one day choose to flee the palace. The purpose of this was to create an opportunity to extract Dawn's Imperial nanobots and implant them into a cooperative, perfect Cleon clone who would then assume Dawn's identity. As Dawn despairs, Dusk arrives with Imperial troops who dispatch the conspirators and their counterfeit Cleon. Dusk leaves Dawn's fate for the returning Brother Day to decide. On Terminus, Salvor solves the puzzle of the Vault, converting it into a portal. Before the gathered Anacreons, Thespins, and Termini, Salvor proposes harnessing the Invictus to give all three worlds leverage against the Empire. Phara tries to destroy the Vault, but is shot dead by Salvor. Before further violence can occur, Hari Seldon emerges from the portal.|
|10||"The Leap"||David S. Goyer||David S. Goyer||November 19, 2021|
|Hari, a second digital copy of the original, explains the Vault was his casket all along, which transformed after being jettisoned and reached Terminus before the colonists. He also reveals the Foundation's true purpose was not to safeguard knowledge, but to forge a new civilization assisted by Anacreon and Thespis, and suggests using the Invictus to fake a "megaflare" to make it appear Terminus had been purged of life; this would allow the Outer Reach to develop in secret from the Empire. As Hari returns to the Vault until the next crisis, he tells Salvor that her visions were not sent by him. Months later, Hugo is captain of the Invictus, and Salvor is running for mayor of Terminus. When Salvor learns she was conceived by Gaal and Raych before being carried to term by her mother Mari, she realizes her visions are her genetic parents' memories and leaves Terminus in search of Gaal. On Trantor, Brother Day decides to spare Dawn over Dusk's objections, but Demerzel kills Dawn anyway, affirming that her loyalty to the Cleon dynasty supersedes Day's wishes. Day is later informed that the anti-Empire conspiracy also altered the DNA of Cleon I's body long ago, affecting not only all extant replacement clones, but also Day himself and possibly his predecessors. In 12,240 E.I., Gaal lands on Synnax, and at the ruins of her hometown, she finds another pod under water into a spaceship wreckage and awakens Salvor who tells her she is her daughter. Salvor then gives her Hari Seldon's Prime Radiant.|
On June 22, 2020, as part of its Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple released a teaser trailer for the series. In February 2021, it was reported that the series would premiere in late 2021. In June 2021, Apple announced that Foundation would premiere in September 2021. Later that month, Apple released a second official trailer and confirmed the premiere date as September 24, 2021. The series premiered with a two-episode release, with the remaining eight episodes scheduled to be released weekly.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports a 70% approval rating with an average rating of 7/10, based on 83 reviews for the first season. The website's critical consensus reads, "Foundation's big-budget production and impressive performances are a sight to behold, but it struggles to wrangle the behemoth that is its source material into a fully satisfying series." Metacritic gave the first season a weighted average score of 62 out of 100 based on 25 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Film reviewer Rob Bricken of Gizmodo was less than impressed with the series, suggesting that it could be much better, and stating "Honestly, after most of the second episode, the show and the books are pretty much unrecognizable", as well as that the original source material of Foundation may not be filmable after all.
Nick Allen of RogerEbert.com considers Foundation to be "the type of sci-fi series that truly warrants being called an event", a "grandiose sci-fi with limits". He writes that the show is "huge in numerous senses", praising its world building as "always impressive with its grandeur that's both practical and also created with IMAX-worthy special effects". He points to the show's ability at holding viewers' attention as "the show sucks you in a great deal", and notes that "Foundation creates a strong rhythm of being able to juggle so many different storylines". Allen admired "promise of visual grandiosity" and "magic we’re more used to praising expensive films for", highlighting everything from "the intricate lighting of a space craft" and "incredible costume design", to "incredible" real locations with a massive sets that "makes a visceral difference when a setting is clearly only using green screen and special effects to enhance the work". He also praised Bear McCreary's score as "essential and so effective in making certain story developments seem larger than life". Allen also noted how performances offer "a wide range", whose "dynamic becomes one of (show's) most interesting facets", while highlighting Lee Pace’s performance as "magnetic". He concludes that the show has a potential to "become another landmark series for Apple TV+", and that its best feature actually is that "it’s not for everyone" because "it’s fairly set in its pacing that favors heady, dense character building" that will favor subscribers "hungry to enter new sci-fi worlds not just for the action".