Genius (American TV series)
|Theme music composer||Hans Zimmer|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||20 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||43–62 minutes|
|Original network||National Geographic|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
|Original release||April 25, 2017 –|
The first season follows the life of Albert Einstein, from his early years, through his time as a patent clerk, to his later years as a physicist who developed the theory of relativity; the season is based on the 2007 book Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson. In April 2017, National Geographic renewed the series for a second season, which follows the life and artistry of Pablo Picasso and aired from April 24 to June 19, 2018. In April 2018, National Geographic renewed the series for a third season, which is set to follow the life of Aretha Franklin and will premiere later in 2020.
The first season chronicles two periods in the life of Albert Einstein: the first as a patent clerk struggling to gain a teaching position and doctorate, the second as a scientist respected for his development of the theory of relativity.
The second season chronicles two periods in the life of Pablo Picasso: the first as a young man first discovering his talent, the second as a celebrated artist struggling with the rise of fascism and the price of fame.
Cast and characters
- Johnny Flynn as Young Albert Einstein
- Samantha Colley as Mileva Marić
- Richard Topol as Fritz Haber
- Michael McElhatton as Philipp Lenard
- Emily Watson as Elsa Einstein
- Gwendolyn Ellis as Young Elsa Einstein
- Robert Lindsay as Hermann Einstein
- Claire Rushbrook as Pauline Einstein
- Helen Monks as Maja Einstein
- Edward Akrout as Laurent Debienne
- Nicholas Rowe as Jost Winteler
- Lucy Russell as Pauline Winteler
- Shannon Tarbet as Marie Winteler
- Alicia von Rittberg as Anna Winteler
- George Webster as Julius Winteler
- Henry Goodman as Walther Rathenau
- Alistair Petrie as Heinrich Weber
- Jon Fletcher as Marcel Grossmann
- Seth Gabel as Michele Besso
- Sally Dexter as elder Mileva Marić
- Nikola Đuričko as Leo Szilard
- David Dencik as Niels Bohr
- Predrag Bjelac as Miloš Marić
- Catherine McCormack as Marija Ružić–Marić
- Corrado Invernizzi as Pierre Curie
- Klára Issová as Marie Curie
- Charity Wakefield as Betty Neumann
- Ania Bukstein as Margarita Konenkova
- Jodhi May as Helen Dukas
- Zoe Telford as Clara Haber
- T. R. Knight as J. Edgar Hoover
- Vincent Kartheiser as Raymond H. Geist
- Eugene Simon as Eduard Einstein
- Ed Stoppard as Hans Albert Einstein
- Joseph Arkley as David Bohm
- Alex Rich as Young Pablo Picasso
- Alessio Scalzotto as 14-year-old
- Timothy Lyons as 9-year-old
- Poppy Delevingne as Marie-Thérèse Walter
- Robert Sheehan as Carlos Casagemas
- David Wilmot as José Ruiz y Blasco
- Jordi Mollà as Salvador Ruiz
- Edward Akrout as Laurent Debienne
- Charlie Carrick as Manuel Pallarès
- Sebastian Roché as Emile Gilot
- Adrian Schiller as Jaime Sabartés
- Will Keen as Paul Rosenberg
- Maria Jose Bavio as María Picasso y López
- Aisling Franciosi as Fernande Olivier
- Stéphane Caillard as Geneviève Aliquot
- Bruno Paviot as Marcel
- Elena Martinez as Dolores
- T. R. Knight as Max Jacob
- Seth Gabel as Guillaume Apollinaire
- Tracee Chimo as Gertrude Stein
- Johnny Flynn as Alain Cuny
- Kerr Logan as Georges Braque
- Tchéky Karyo as Henri Rousseau
- Jack Brett Anderson as Géry Pieret
- Eileen O'Higgins as Eva Gouel
- Gerran Howell as Karl-Heinz Wiegels
- Lucas Englander as Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler
- Simon Buret as Jean Cocteau
- Sofia Doniants as Olga Khokhlova
- Nicola Perot as Ubaldo Oppi
- Tom Cullen as Luc Simon
- Zachary Fall as Paulo Picasso
- Michael Gor as Sergei Diaghilev
- Margaux Chatelier as Geneviève Laporte
- Dimitri Leonidas as Kostas Axelos
- Ed Stoppard as Paul Éluard
- Vincent Londez as André Breton
- Valentina Bellè as Jacqueline Roque
- Emile Feltesse as Jean Renoir
- Sand Van Roy as Florelle
- Michael McElhatton as Jonas Salk
- Luis Soto as Eugenio Arias
- Andrew Buchan as Henri Matisse
- Cynthia Erivo as Aretha Franklin
- Courtney B. Vance as C. L. Franklin
- David Cross as Jerry Wexler
- Malcolm Barrett as Ted White
- Patrice Covington as Erma Franklin
- Kimberly Hébert Gregory as Ruth Bowen
- Rebecca Naomi Jones as Carolyn Franklin
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||Einstein||10||April 25, 2017||June 20, 2017|
|2||Picasso||10||April 24, 2018||June 19, 2018|
Season 1: Einstein (2017)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||U.S. viewers|
|1||1||"Chapter One"||Ron Howard||Story by : Noah Pink and Ken Biller|
Teleplay by : Noah Pink
|April 25, 2017||1.38|
|As Antisemitism reaches a fever pitch in 1930s Germany, physicist Albert Einstein finds himself forced to choose between emigrating to the United States or staying in solidarity with his fellow academics. The struggle evokes memories of his days as a student at Zürich Polytechnic and his first encounter with Mileva Marić, the woman who would become his first wife.|
|2||2||"Chapter Two"||Minkie Spiro||Angelina Burnett||May 2, 2017||1.05|
|After butting heads with Mileva Marić, the only female student in his class at Zürich Polytechnic, a young Albert Einstein falls in love with this determined fellow student. While the passionate affair fans the flames of their mutual curiosity and love of science, their reckless abandon doesn't go unnoticed by Einstein's strict physics lecturer, Professor Weber.|
|3||3||"Chapter Three"||Minkie Spiro||Mark Lafferty||May 9, 2017||1.02|
|As a recent university graduate, Albert Einstein struggles to make ends meet while trying to land an academic post in a scientific world rigid with tradition and protocol. After finally securing various tutoring jobs, he moves one step closer to being able to provide for his pregnant wife, Mileva, when tragedy strikes.|
|4||4||"Chapter Four"||Kevin Hooks||Noah Pink||May 16, 2017||0.93|
|While working at his day job at the Bern patent office, Albert Einstein burns the candle at both ends supported by his new wife, writing four new scientific papers including the theory of special relativity, in what will be considered his miracle year. One of his papers attracts the attention of the notable theoretical physicist Max Planck.|
|5||5||"Chapter Five"||Kevin Hooks||Raf Green||May 23, 2017||0.94|
|With new teaching duties, Albert Einstein finally begins to experience the academic life he long coveted as he develops his theory of general relativity. Enjoying his first taste of acclaim among the most renowned scientific minds in Europe including Marie Curie, Einstein falters in his familial responsibilities. His only relief comes from a visit to extended family, where he is introduced to his cousin Elsa.|
|6||6||"Chapter Six"||James Hawes||Brian Peterson||May 30, 2017||1.02|
|After moving his family to Berlin for work, and to be closer to his new love Elsa, Albert Einstein sets out to prove his theory of general relativity. He enlists the help of an astronomer to photograph a solar eclipse in Russia, but the expedition goes awry. Einstein's affair becomes less secret, and Elsa forces an ultimatum: divorce Mileva or lose her forever.|
|7||7||"Chapter Seven"||James Hawes||Kelly Souders||June 6, 2017||1.06|
|Exhausted and worn out, Albert Einstein's attempt to make scientific history is put to the test as he begins to experience health issues. Meanwhile, sweeping patriotism in the wake of the war has corrupted one of his closest friends, Fritz Haber, pitting them against each other. In the German war effort, Albert is the lone scientist to refuse the call to arms.|
|8||8||"Chapter Eight"||Ken Biller||Angelina Burnett & Francesca Butler||June 13, 2017||1.05|
|Attempting to flee to the United States, Albert Einstein and his wife Elsa find that their visas have been blocked for entry by the U.S. State Department because Einstein's politics placed him on the radar of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Just days before his departure, Einstein must convince the U.S Consul in Germany that he is no threat to the country.|
|9||9||"Chapter Nine"||Ken Biller||Ken Biller & Raf Green||June 20, 2017||1.04|
|Albert Einstein and Elsa settle into the U.S. while trying to save those he left behind. Although quantum physics continues to vex him, his focus is diverted by the splitting of the atom in Nazi Germany. When tragedy strikes, Einstein seeks comfort in the arms of a Russian woman whose intentions are unclear.|
|10||10||"Chapter Ten"||Ken Biller||Mark Lafferty||June 20, 2017||1.04|
|After the atomic bomb is dropped and World War II ends, Albert Einstein assumes the role of world citizen in his elder years. Having been linked to nuclear weapons, he drowns in guilt and refocuses his efforts to prevent further wars. Inspiration strikes when a young neighbor asks him for homework help, reminding him of the joy that science once brought.|
Season 2: Picasso (2018)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||U.S. viewers|
|11||1||"Chapter One"||Ken Biller||Ken Biller||April 24, 2018||0.72|
|While going to art school in Madrid, young Pablo Ruasdaiz rejects the traditional rules of painting in search of his own unique style, and soon changes his last name to Picasso. He moves to Paris and befriends art student Carlos Casagemas, and together they share a studio and sell their art until a terrible tragedy happens. In 1938, Pablo contends with the rising threat of Franco's fascism in his home country of Spain.|
|12||2||"Chapter Two"||Ken Biller||Ken Biller||April 24, 2018||0.52|
|After Pablo learns of Guernica, an ancient town in the Basque Country which was destroyed by the Nazis, he paints a mural of the same name depicting the carnage. It is shown in the Spanish Pavilion at the Universal Exposition. It is critiqued by inspiring French painter, Françoise Gilot who catches Pablo's eye, especially when his current muse, Dora Maar doesn't inspire him to pick up a paintbrush anymore.|
|13||3||"Chapter Three"||Kevin Hooks||Brian Peterson & Kelly Souders||May 1, 2018||0.26|
|After the suicide of his heartbroken friend, Pablo struggles with life. He meets poet Max Jacob who helps him through his pain, using it in his art. While he paints, Pablo only sees bleak colors, thus beginning his Blue Period. While back in Barcelona in 1903, to honor Carlos, he creates La Vie. In 1943, Pablo grows closer to Françoise and he shows her how to feel the passion through her work.|
|14||4||"Chapter Four"||Kevin Hooks||Raf Green||May 8, 2018||0.35|
|Back in Paris, Pablo reunites with Max and through him meets French poet Guillaume Apollinaire who inspires him to create Family of Saltimbanques, the masterpiece of his Rose Period. But after seeing rival Henri Matisse's work at the Autumn Salon, Pablo pulls his painting from the show. In 1944, Pablo loses Max to the Nazis, and he soon struggles with two love affairs between Dora and Françoise.|
|15||5||"Chapter Five"||Laura Belsey||Noah Pink||May 15, 2018||0.33|
|After the French critics denounce all the artists who submitted their work at the Autumn Salon as Matisse imitators, Pablo meets the man himself and is challenged by his radical genius. For years, the two artists try to outdo each other, urged on by brother and sister art collecting duo Leo and Gertrude Stein. When attempts with his first love, Fernande Olivier fail, Pablo seeks inspiration from the primitive African masks at Trocadero Museum and creates Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. In 1947, Pablo convinces Françoise to move in with him.|
|16||6||"Chapter Six"||Laura Belsey||Matthew Newman||May 22, 2018||0.33|
|Pablo is inspired by Henri Rousseau, a customs clerk who paints in a distorted style, and starts cubism with Matisse's protegé George Braque. The two go on to change the way people see art and they sell many paintings in their new style. After the Mona Lisa is stolen from the Louvre in 1911, Apollinare's secretary Géry Pieret who stole statues from the museum, confesses he knows who did it. Since Pieret sold them the artifacts, Pablo and Apollinare are accused of stealing the beloved DaVinci painting. Pablo takes Françoise on a getaway to Midi, but she is not impressed. He asks her to have a baby with him.|
|17||7||"Chapter Seven"||Greg Yaitanes||Wendy Riss||May 29, 2018||0.26|
|In 1912, Pablo and Georges expand their art movement with radical collages called Crystal Cubism. Pablo's Family of Saltimbanques becomes the most expensive painting in history, selling for 12,650 francs. When World War I begins, Pablo doesn't believe in fighting and remains a pacifist at home while his friends fight in the trenches. But he has his own battles with Fernande having an affair with Italian painter Ubaldo Oppi. Pablo falls in love with her conventional friend, Eva Gouel, wanting to marry her. However, she's diagnosed with lung cancer and dies soon after. After the loss of his father, Pablo has a fling with cabaret singer Gaby Lespinasse, but she is engaged. In 1949, with two kids with Françoise, Pablo, a member of the Communist Party attends the World Peace Council in Paris and creates a symbol of peace.|
|18||8||"Chapter Eight"||Greg Yaitanes||Stephanie K. Smith||June 5, 2018||0.27|
|After befriending playwright Jean Cocteau, Pablo designs his ballet, Parade in 1917, and meets his first wife, Olga Khokhlova, a Russian ballerina. He must choose starting a family with his new wife or being around for his old friends. Max decides to stay at a monastery and make his vows to God, while Apollinaire contracts Spanish influenza. As an older man in the early 1950s, Pablo struggles with Françoise who attempts to bring his complex family back into his life. It is a distraction when he tries to continue his legacy with a retrospective of his works.|
|19||9||"Chapter Nine"||Mathias Herndl||Raf Green & Ali Gordon-Goldstein||June 12, 2018||0.27|
|Surrealist writer André Breton includes Pablo in the surrealism movement, but he doesn't want to be labeled. When Pablo feels stuck in his marriage with Olga and her snobbish ways, he seeks out someone new. He sees Marie-Thérèse Walter on the streets of Paris and she agrees to let him paint her, thus starting a love affair. In 1935, Pablo needs an outlet and begins writing poetry. His friend, poet Paul Éluard introduces him to Dora, a photographer. After finding out Pablo has been sneaking off to St. Tropez with his young mistress Geneviève Laporte, Françoise leaves him to pursue her artistic goals by designing a ballet for choreographer Janine Charrat, and becomes more than friends with philosopher Kostas Axelos in 1953.|
|20||10||"Chapter Ten"||Mathias Herndl||Matthew Newman & Noah Pink||June 19, 2018||0.34|
|After leaving Pablo, Françoise struggles to escape his shadow even when she marries, then divorces art teacher Luc Simon, and later moves to New York City to showcase her art. Not wanting to only be known as Picasso's former mistress, she fights back by writing a tell-all book about their abusive relationship and gets into a healthy one with doctor Jonas Salk. Meanwhile, Pablo meets Jacqueline Roque and she becomes his last muse and then his second wife after Olga dies in 1955. An aging Pablo withdraws from the public eye to create a neo-expressionist self-portrait. On April 8, 1973, Pablo dies at the age of 91 without a will. The art he leaves behind is worth millions.|
On April 28, 2016, it was announced that National Geographic had given the production a straight-to-series order, its first ever scripted series. The series was set to be based on the biography Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson and adapted by Noah Pink, who was also expected to co-executive produce. Executive producers were announced to include Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Francie Calfo, Gigi Pritzker, Rachel Shane, Sam Sokolow, and Jeffrey Cooney. Anna Culp was set to co-produce alongside Melissa Rucker. Ron Howard was expected to direct the first episode of the series. Production companies involved with the series were set to include Imagine TV, Fox 21 TV Studios, OddLot Entertainment and EUE/Sokolow.
On April 19, 2017, National Geographic renewed the series for a second season. The subject of the second season was to have been announced during the finale of the first season, but was instead revealed to be Pablo Picasso the day after the finale, when the network and producers did not want to divert attention away from the season finale. The second season premiered on April 24, 2018.
On April 18, 2018, National Geographic renewed the series for a third season. The season was initially set to follow the life of writer Mary Shelley. Ken Biller is expected to return as showrunner, executive producer and writer. Also returning are executive producers Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Francie Calfo, Jeff Cooney, Sam Sokolow, Gigi Pritzker, and Rachel Shane. Anna Culp will return as producer. Returning production companies include Imagine TV, MWM Studios, and EUE/Sokolow. On February 10, 2019, it was announced that the subject of the third season would instead be American singer Aretha Franklin, known as "The Queen of Soul". The third season was slated to premiere on May 25, 2020 and air over four consecutive nights, but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and will air later in 2020.
In August 2016, it was announced that Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Flynn would star in the series as Albert Einstein both as an old man and as a young adult, respectively. Additionally, it was reported that Emily Watson would also star in the series and that Michael McElhatton, Seth Gabel, Samantha Colley, Richard Topol, and Vincent Kartheiser had joined the cast. In November 2016, it was announced that Shannon Tarbet, Claire Rushbrook, and Robert Lindsay had been cast in recurring roles. On February 2, 2017, it was reported that T. R. Knight had been cast in the recurring role of J. Edgar Hoover.
On September 6, 2017, it was announced that Antonio Banderas would star in the second season as Pablo Picasso. On November 2, 2017, it was reported that Alex Rich would co-star in the series sharing the lead role of Picasso. It was further reported that Clémence Poésy, Robert Sheehan, Poppy Delevingne, Aisling Franciosi, and Sebastian Roché also joined the cast and that Samantha Colley, T. R. Knight, Seth Gabel, and Johnny Flynn were returning from season one in new roles.
Principal photography for season one took place in mid-2016 in Prague. Filming for season two began in November 2017 in Málaga and was expected to take place for over five months in various cities around the world, including Barcelona, Paris, and Budapest. Filming for the third season was set to commence in November 2019, for an early-2020 release. In March 2020, the production was shelved due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first season received mostly positive reviews. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the series has an approval rating of 83%, based on 29 reviews. On Metacritic, the season had a score of 65 out of 100, based on 20 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Science columnist Dennis Overbye of The New York Times described the series as a "tense binge-worthy psychological thriller full of political and romantic melodrama." Overbye further noted that Einstein himself, writing to his sister, wrote, "If everybody lived a life like mine, there would be no need for novels." According to Hillary Busis of Vanity Fair, the film shows, "... Einstein at work ... peers into the über-genius's tumultuous love life (monogamy, he believes, is "not natural") ... his fraught emigration to the United States ...". Busis quotes producer Ron Howard: "When you move past his scientific contributions, Albert's life story—what his youth was like, who his friends were, who his enemies were, his tumultuous love life—is a story people don't know ... I think audiences are going to be riveted as we tell this ambitious and revealing human story behind Einstein's scientific brilliance."
The second season received mixed reviews, but garnered praise for its star, Antonio Banderas. Rotten Tomatoes gave an approval rating of 59%, based on 17 reviews. Its critical consensus reads: "An impressive performance from Antonio Banderas rescues Genius: Picasso from condensed melodrama." On Metacritic, the season had a score of 52 out of 100, based on 10 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
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Sanai Victoria will be Little Re (young Aretha)...
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