Asimov's "Foundation" Series as TV or Movie?

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by HIjol, Feb 20, 2014.

  1. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2000
    Location:
    In the lap of squalor I assure you.
    You'd have some odd backward shit going on too, if the same actor played Daneel Olivaw in Foundation first and then the Elijah Baliey Movies later when he is noticeably older.
     
  2. ATimson

    ATimson Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2003
    Location:
    Andrew Timson
    Roland Emmerich isn't a problem per se, just a Roland Emmerich without Dean Devlin to write the scripts & keep him in check. ;)
     
  3. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Location:
    UK
    They didn't ruin it, they made an almost totally unrelated movie that just so happened to have the same name. ;)

    Honestly I'm more annoyed by what was done with Matheson's "I Am Legend". Odd though how Will Smith stared in both of those...
     
  4. Rincewiend

    Rincewiend Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2001
    Location:
    .eu / .nl
    So make it an animated miniseries...
    Maybe get one of the Animatrix teams/studios to do it...
     
  5. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2009
    Location:
    Northern Ontario, Canada
    If they have to do it, then I definitely agree with doing it as a miniseries. The way it was written lends itself well to that format.
     
  6. arch101

    arch101 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    May 3, 1999
    Location:
    10 miles west of the Universal Hub
    Do each book as an 8-10 ep per season series. If it gets cancelled, at least a complete book would be filmed.
     
  7. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Location:
    UK
    Leaving aside for a second the disjointed nature of the narrative, my main problem with any attempt to adapt the Foundation is that to my recollection, the books never did have what you'd call a definitive end point. Which is built in since the central plot is about avoiding there being a definitive end to civilization.

    Indeed the absence of a consistent protagonist (not counting recordings of a dead bloke) make if very difficult for me to see how it'd work. It just sort of peters out with the last two (?) books just being something of an epilogue that ties in all of Asimov's robot books as part of a shared continuity.

    So my instinct would be to not attempt to adapt the whole thing at all, but just use the established universe to tell a complete story. Either something totally original, or an elaboration on one of the vignettes.
     
  8. Marc

    Marc Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Location:
    An Aussie in Canukistan

    I'm not sure not having a definitive endpoint matters an iota.

    But the change in characters over times would probably rule out movies and would have to explained in a mini-series (perhaps a screen text giving a rough outline of what's happend, the time elapsed etc etc).

    Probably the longest time with the same characters would the section with the mule which makes up much of Foundation and Empire.
     
  9. ATimson

    ATimson Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2003
    Location:
    Andrew Timson
    Well, we know the Foundation made it through the Interregnum, and was successfully publishing the Encyclopedia Galactica still in 1020 F.E. (per the citations on the epigraphs). Since making it there was the driving plot of the series, surely there's been a definitive end point since day 1?

    Perhaps there were additional Seldon crises between Foundation and Earth and that end point; perhaps not. But either way, we know they succeeded.
     
  10. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2009
    Location:
    Northern Ontario, Canada
    I wouldn't even see any issue with there being no real consistent protagonist, as they could do it in the way of a chronology since that was the way it showed the passage of time anyway. Each major character is in essence passing the torch to the next one. It wasn't until the later books, Foundation's Edge and Foundation & Earth that it had more of a novel-like structure to it, following characters across two books, as the earlier ones had more or less been a collection of short stories. They can always expand on that and connect them in more efficient ways.
     
  11. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2000
    Location:
    In the lap of squalor I assure you.
    Actually considering the chopping nature of the installation, generations inbetween each Seldon moment... I could see this released as webisodes.

    Of course, the good stuff released as webisodes, are eventually collected into a direct to dvd movies like the original clone wars or BSG Blood and Steel.
     
  12. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Location:
    "Who are you?"
    I was thinking this too, but it would take a high-quality writing team to properly flesh out the books. Unfortunately, fleshing out has been tried before with an Asimov classic, with disastrous results. Dissuaded by that utter nightmare, I kept silent. Glad to see someone else thinking this thought, though.

    Yeah, the point is that the Foundation works. The point is ultimately that the human experience is both rational and fathomable.

    While I know this might inject some controversy into the conversation, the complete Foundation saga as it stands involves not only the Robot series but also The End of Eternity. There's really an almost limitless universe there to tell interconnected and stand-alone stories in. Rather than do it in one film, it could be paced out over many, kinda like the MCU.

    If only Hollywood could step back from the blockbuster mentality. Asimov is more famous for his sweeping ideas than for his characters, but there are a lot of poignant character moments in the Foundation saga, and there's plenty of opportunity to make the stories resonate on an emotional level. The idea that space-based science fiction properties have to be developed as tentpole blockbusters seems awfully self-defeating to me. It's too limiting. Indie films like Moon have proven successful, in their niche anyway, and Gravity was made on a small budget, as tentpole films go.

    I'm glad to have read the books, at least.
     
  13. Peak

    Peak Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2002
    Location:
    Sweden
  14. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2009
    Location:
    Northern Ontario, Canada

    That's very true, and a good point to make. If they'd go through the effort of making the Foundation series, then they shouldn't stop there as it's only really half of a bigger picture, covered with the Robot series and Empire series, and there'd be lots of material to cover. You have the other series to fill the gaps. They could call it Worlds of Asimov.
     
  15. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2009
    Location:
    A deserted gin joint on the Lower East Side
    I agree on scaling back the production levels for a number of sci-fi films since, in many respects, sci-fi is more about the characters and interactions than it is about the whiz-bang VFX or action. I think that's precisely why Gravity was successful, because it did focus on characters. If the Foundation "movies" (or series) were made with similar priorities, I think they could be successful without being the huge tent-pole pictures most sci-fi films are expected to be these days.
     
  16. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Location:
    UK
    It might work as a series of short form 5-15 minute episodes, but I maintain that any attempt to tell a cohesive and complete story is going to be seriously hampered by there being no good way to end it and no real emotional core.

    The way I see it, if you have a central character that you follow though most of a story, it doesn't matter so much if the plot doesn't have a good end point since you can focus your story on the character's emotional journey, making everything else a backdrop. Think 'Saving Private Ryan' where the actual story is about Hank's character's journey, with the Normandy invasion as the backdrop. We didn't need to see Hitler defeated, since that's not the point of the film.

    Conversely, if you want to do a multi-generational story, the the focus has to be the overarching plot. But, as I said, the plot doesn't really go anywhere and with something like this you need a culmination point where all the narrative and thematic threads converge.

    Note; I'm not saying it's impossible, just very very difficult to pull off a story with no protagonist, no ending and basically nothing to hold it all together.

    The only solution I can think of is inserting that robot character from the later books (I forget his name) at the *beginning* of the story and make the whole Foundation Saga from his POV.

    Keep in mind that it's one thing to try adapting a bunch of stories, it's quite another to do so in a way that is *marketable*. That is to say, not so boring and impenetrable as to only appeal to hardcore fans. It'd be like trying to adapt The Silmarillion in it's entirety. Technically you could do it, but good luck getting anyone outside of a small group of crazy fans to actually sit through the thing.
     
  17. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2000
    Location:
    In the lap of squalor I assure you.
    The problem with I Robot is that they overfleshed a story that did not have to be told.
     
  18. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2009
    Location:
    Northern Ontario, Canada

    Not necessarily. You gain insight into what goes on with each new entry to the Encyclopedia. Each of them advance the story, sometimes from different angles. So, for example, if each episode is a new entry, they could an episode on the rebel leader that sacks Trantor and the implications of the sacking itself. Another episode on Hari Seldon and his development of Psychohistory from Prelude, etc. Seldon being a pivotal character would be recurring through his holographic messages. There's enough there throughout that one can piece together without having it be overarching. The whole series sells itself on the characters and the events they go through rather than an intricate plot. I'd argue that you don't even really need a concrete ending for this thing.
     
  19. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2009
    Location:
    A deserted gin joint on the Lower East Side
    The series would have to make viewers really care about Terminus and the Foundation in a way similar to how the Foundationers cared about their own existence. If so, it would be a kind of ... ahem ... foundation to build each episode on. The series would have to take great care, though, that each installment would be compelling on its own and toward that final goal of a Second Galactic Empire.
     
  20. Wereghost

    Wereghost Part-time poltergeist Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2009
    Location:
    Ireland
    Ian McShane.