How do you review the sci-fi American drama Foundation?

I had read the original Foundation, but that was at least ten years ago, and it was a disjointed read, and I didn’t end up getting to the end, so when I turned on the Foundation TV series, it strangely made me check several times if I had started the wrong show, and search my memory again and again to make sure I had actually read the set back then.

After a few minutes of watching, when I finally got a few of the English names to match up slightly with the Chinese names, I realised that beyond the sex changes of a few of the main characters, the whole story was very much in flux.

From the first few episodes that have aired so far, it’s pretty clear that Hollywood is guilty of making blind changes to the classics. The sex changes aren’t a problem, but bringing together characters that don’t even cross paths and making them fall in love with each other is a problem. And that’s not even the biggest problem, the biggest problem is that the main theme of Asimov’s story is twisted into a very cheesy American drama formula in the show. In the original story, life wasn’t bad for the people under the rule of the Galactic Empire, and King Cleon was still the last bright king of the Empire. Shedden’s plan wasn’t to overthrow the Empire’s rule, but to shorten the chaos in between when the cycle rate couldn’t be broken. But in this show, the rulers of the Galactic Empire for these past 10,000 years or so have all been clones of Cleon I. The portrayal of the empire is typical of the American drama formula: the emperor is a murderous dictator, and the government is forced to rebel against the people under the oppressive rule of the empire. In fact, the clone king is quite an original idea. Each generation of rulers is a trio, a young Cleon clone Brother Dawn, a young Cleon clone Brother Day, and an old Cleon clone Brother Dusk, with the young Brother Day being the main ruler. Although new, the meaning of “the empire has been the same for years and therefore needs to be reformed” seems to have little to do with the original.

From the three episodes released so far, Apple’s wealth is evident in almost every frame, but like many similar American shows, it looks big but reveals very little about the landscape. The vast majority of American shows portray the evil of their rulers in a superficial way, as a murderous tyrant. In this show, Emperor Cleon has the guards blast the painter, who has worked at the court for over 60 years, into oblivion simply because he has a copy of Shedden’s book in his house. That’s about as good a description of a medieval feudal lord as you’re going to get of an emperor who ruled a galactic empire of trillions of people. That’s probably what happens when there’s no history, when the problem of the cyclical law of history is left alone, and the trope of the imaginary Third Reich variant being used to portray an evil entity that deserves to be overthrown is forever childish and outdated.

But when you think about it, it’s probably a deeply ingrained idea in a certain context, and a little scrolling through reddit comments on modern current affairs pretty much echoes that sentiment. But the extreme simplistic perception that any enemy of the United States is not described as an oppressive, authoritarian, dictatorial, evil regime that will be overthrown as soon as someone takes the lead and raises their arm is the problem, I’m afraid.

It’s no wonder that many fans of the original are outraged that this is simply a magical homage to the Foundation’s title. What can be said is that if you put aside the original Foundation, this film should be considered a sincere work, after all, you can really tell at a glance that a lot of money has been spent.

But the story is the same old American drama formula, and the love story is so redundant and boring that I’m afraid it will end up being a mediocre film with little to show for it.