Two of my favorite science fiction franchises premiere their latest installments tonight: Hellboy II: The Golden Army opens in cinemas and Stargate Atlantis returns to television on the SCI FI channel for its 5th season.
With its supernatural overtones, some might quibble over whether or not Hellboy is really science fiction. putting it instead into the fantasy category. But Hellboy clearly draws from the tradition of horror science fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft, who, in his stories, created a complex and rich universe in which humanity is only a paper-thin dimensional wall away from malignant entities that regard us a little more than ants scurrying underfoot.
Stargate Atlantis, the spinoff from the successful Stargate: SG1 TV show (which was itself a spinoff from the 1994 Stargate movie) is also set in a rich (if considerably less bleak) universe. Since the Stargate franchise moved to television in 1997, the producers have done a great job in creating a believable and consistent constellation of advanced physics and technologies that form the background of Atlantis and SG1. They also deserve credit for how they’ve structured the show: idea-of-the-week plots are carefully balanced with long term character and story arcs, meaning that even after hundreds of episodes across both shows, casual or new viewers can still watch the show without feeling lost (something that became a problem with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Bablyon 5 for example) while devoted fans get rewarded too.
Check back on Monday for my thoughts on both of tonight’s openings!