chapter  3
10 Pages

Crime as entertainment: The case of the TV crime drama

BySue Turnbull

Watching Kenneth Branagh as the dour Swedish Inspector Wallander in the recent BBC

adaptation of Henning Mankell’s crime novels (Wallander, BBC One, 2008-), I couldn’t

help but wonder if Richard Dyer was quite right about the concept of entertainment as

discussed in his classic essay ‘Entertainment and utopia’ originally published in 1977

(republished Dyer 1992). There was Wallander, newly separated, miserable, suffering

from diabetes and trying to cope with his father’s incipient Alzheimer’s disease while

dealing with all manner of horrible crimes. And there was Dyer’s concept of entertainment

as utopia offering us the vision of a better world. Either, I mused, Wallander wasn’t

entertaining, or Dyer’s definition might not encompass what it is about the representation

of crime on television that is entertaining.