The workers united – in space

There aren’t many dramas on TV that deal with workers rights and strike action. Well at least not that many programmes that have come to my attention. Maybe that’s a good thing, collective bargaining tends not to be the most thrilling form of entertainment (‘Land & Freedom’ anyone?).

However, there is one critically acclaimed show that is doing all this, and more, and getting away with it nicely in a solar system far far away. I’m talking about the new ‘Battlestar Galactica’ the remake of the camp 70s affair. First time around, it was a ‘Star Wars’ clone and something of an also ran, but the NBC Universal/Sky remake is something much bigger and bolder. Oh and it’s very dark.

A sort of cross between the ‘West Wing’, ‘Blade Runner’ and the ‘Empire Strikes Back’ brand of ‘Star Wars’, it is a gritty affair full of politics and religion as much as anything else and that’s what makes it so good.

A recent episode that aired in the US, ‘Dirty Hands’, was a story about an old fashioned labour dispute (long hours and dangerous working conditions), which also managed to squeeze in the issues of child labour, equality of opportunity and the class war – it packs a lot into 42 minutes of television.

It has dealt with much more in its run. The Guardian recently praised it as the only drama on television to deal with the War on Terror and Rolling Stone said it was “TV’s most vivid depiction of the post-9/11 world and what happens to a society at war”. It had its insurgency, its Abu Ghraib and suicide bombers, not Jihadis, but people with nothing to lose and willing to do whatever it takes to win their freedom.

The bad guys this time around are still the Cylons, but they are not just the walking tin cans of old (the tins cans are now sleek things with mini guns – dubbed “toasters”), they are also in human form (okay some look like models, but you need that for the fans boys who have never spoken to a real girl). That’s right they look like us, they worship the one true god, and they are hell bent on wiping out humanity and its worships of false idols (sound familiar?).

It’s well worth watching. Sadly, if you’re in the UK and have cable, then unlucky as Sky just pulled this as part of its row with Virgin Media. Although who needs Rupert Murdoch’s Sky, there are lots of places where you can watch this show online for free (without having to illegally download it, I should add).