Adaptations of large and complex books tend to have a slow start due to the need for extensive explanations. This was the case with popular series such as Game of Thrones and The Rings of Power, and it was no different with Foundation on Apple TV Plus, which transformed Isaac Asimov’s novels into prestigious television. The first few episodes of season 1 were burdened by the task of introducing unique concepts like psychohistory and a genetic dynasty. Showrunner David S. Goyer explains that despite their efforts to minimize exposition, there was no way around it. They decided to embrace the necessity of explanation and hoped that the audience would stick around. Goyer believes that this slow start may be an unavoidable aspect of ambitious and novelistic shows.
However, with season 2, Goyer and his team did not face the same problem. They felt a weight lifted from their shoulders, as they no longer had to focus on setting the foundation. The goal for this season is to be more approachable and expand the audience. To achieve this, they delve into the internal lives of characters, incorporate more action, and even introduce some humor and sex. Goyer wanted to add levity to the series, inspired by Asimov’s own writing style. Their aim is not to change the essence of Foundation but to present it in a way that is more accessible to new viewers.
Despite their efforts to make the series more comprehensible, Foundation remains a complex show that spans over many years. Season 2 takes place a century after the first, involving time jumps, warring factions, and the inherent complexity of the story. Goyer and his team utilize various tools to navigate this complexity, such as show bibles, flowcharts, and copious Post-it notes. However, the filming process adds an extra layer of challenge as episodes are not filmed in chronological order, and two units sometimes shoot scenes simultaneously.
One key aspect of maintaining the show’s mystery and surprises is not revealing too much to the actors. Goyer prefers to keep them in the dark about future seasons or even the end of the current season. He withholds episode 10 until necessary and selectively shares scripts with actors for specific scenes. This approach ensures that the actors do not anticipate or play out future events, which is ironic considering the nature of the show.
Foundation has currently been confirmed for two seasons, but Goyer envisions a much larger scope for the series. He has outlined a plan for 80 episodes spanning eight seasons. While there are certain major plot points firmly established, Goyer acknowledges that the journey to reaching these moments can evolve during production. He takes inspiration from his collaboration with Christopher Nolan, who encouraged the burning of ideas in the present rather than waiting for the future.
In conclusion, the first season of Foundation faced the challenge of exposition due to the complex nature of the source material. In season 2, the team aims to make the series more approachable through character exploration, increased action, and humor. The show remains intricate, with a century-long time jump and various factions. Goyer maintains secrecy with the actors to preserve surprises. The ultimate goal is to expand Foundation into eight seasons, with flexibility to adapt the plan based on production progress.