I’ll be honest. My expectations were low going into this adaptation, not only because it’s one of my favourite book series (dry though it undoubtedly is at times), but also because I just couldn’t see how they were going to pull this off without completely rewriting it. The books range over hundreds of years, with a constantly shuffling cast, and (at least, until the appearance of The Mule), they focus entirely on the point of view of the Foundation itself.
The genius of this adaptation is the way they’ve managed to create an antagonist out of Emperor Cleon (all three of him) that means he/they can continue to play a role as the years go by. My main experience of Lee Pace was in the excellent Halt and Catch Fire (at least until the final season) in which he showed himself to be an engaging bad guy, very much as in Foundation. Of course, Jared Harris is excellent in providing gravitas to the setup, but the show is stolen by Lou Llobell who plays Gaal Dornick – a male character (naturally) in the 1950s-written book series, but here played as a more credible version of Rey Skywalker.
The aesthetic, especially at the beginning, is very reminiscent of recent Star Wars TV and it’s absolutely stunning, but this first episode suffers a little for having to set the scene – introducing an empire that, by the end of the episode, has suffered an attack on its home world. Is it just me, or does this feel like a 9/11 metaphor?
My overwhelming sense, when this episode concluded, was one of relief. At the very least, I knew this looked as though it was going to be enjoyable, with the potential to be elevated to greatness as the story unfolds. Watch this space.