David Lister: Internet reviewers shoot from the hip – but there's one moral code even they accept

The Week in Arts

Share

Like many of you reading this, I shall be watching the second series of The Killing this weekend, and every weekend right up until Christmas.

The reasons for doing so have been well aired in recent weeks, from the charismatic central performance of Sofie Grabol who plays the detective Sarah Lund to the atmospheric production. But at its core there is something simpler than all the complex politics that also informs the series. It's a whodunnit. And, as with any whodunnit, it would be greatly diminished if we did know whodunnit.

It's surprising we don't. We live in an age where the internet, with its blogs and random comments, and Twitter with its licence to sound off about anything, could have ruined the plot many times over. There is also Wikipedia, which is not a total stranger to spoiling a whodunnit. Look up Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap on Wikipedia, or rather don't if you ever intend seeing it at the theatre. The entry announces that there is a twist at the end. It then churlishly goes on to announce precisely what it is. The Christie estate has not been thrilled by this, and it may well have ruined an evening out for some theatregoers. But it is an exception.

The whodunnit on television and in film seems sacred, immune from the urge to tell everyone everything that is the driving passion of blogging and tweeting. And, as the latest series of The Killing being shown in Britain appeared well over a year ago in its native Denmark, it would be very easy for an ill-wisher to reveal the plot, and ruin the next few Saturday nights for most of us. But nowhere on the internet, thankfully, will you find the denouement of The Killing II.

It's a curious morality, but very welcome in an area normally devoid of such scruples. As I and many other newspaper commentators know, the usually anonymous bloggers and responders to our articles take few prisoners. They shoot from the hip, and can be vicious in their ripostes. But when it comes to the whodunnit, there seems to be a moral code, both a respect for the genre and for the viewers. Court injunctions are broken on the internet and on Twitter. Libel laws are flouted. But there remains an adherence to one of the oldest conventions in dramatic criticism: you don't give away the identity of the killer.

It restores one's faith in humanity.

The curious case of the missing racist

Bonnie Greer's opera about her appearance on Question Time with the BNP leader Nick Griffin premiered at the Royal Opera House this week. The piece by the writer and academic was called Yes, but that wasn't what the critics said.

I think it made two fundamental mistakes. Ms Greer was on stage playing herself, whereas any drama, especially if it is to last, should have a professional playing the role. Much more weirdly, this totally legitimate subject for dramatisation – the confrontation on a TV programme between a black writer and the head of the BNP – didn't portray Nick Griffin on stage at all. This strikes me as a cop-out both dramatically and politically.

If you believe, as I do, that opera is capable of embracing and illuminating any current political and emotional concern, then it seems bizarre to leave out one of the drama's leading characters. With all the expertise available at the Royal Opera House, it is surprising that Greer wasn't better advised. Besides, one could always have diminished Griffin by making him a countertenor.

Christmas viewing is getting better

We will, no doubt, be told, as every year, that Christmas TV isn't what it was. Actually, I'm not sure it ever was what it was. But the first announcements of this year's schedules are not unpromising. A two-hour Downton Abbey special will certainly be my choice on the evening of Christmas Day. There's also the return of Absolutely Fabulous to look forward to, a healthy dose of Dickens, and plenty of arts from Tosca to Darcey Bussell. It could be worth staying in front of the TV for the first time in some years.

But here's my challenge to Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes for the Christmas special and the next series. Have the Countess talk to her daughters. Cora seems to be a mother who rarely, if ever, exchanges a word with them. Even in the early years of the 20th century, even in aristocratic households, surely mums did chat to the girls.

d.lister@independent.co.uk / twitter.com/davidlister1

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Performance Consultant Trainee

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Consultant trainee opportunit...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - (Full marketing mix) - Knutsford

£22000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Knu...

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - ASP.NET, C#, MVC - London

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Web Developer -...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Andreas Lubitz: Knee-jerk reaction to 9/11 enabled mass murder

Simon Calder
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, presides at the reinterment of Richard III yesterday  

Richard III: We Leicester folk have one question: how much did it all cost?

Sean O’Grady
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn
Election 2015: Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May

Election 2015

Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May
Countdown to the election: Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear as the SNP target his Commons seat

Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury didn’t forget his Highland roots in the Budget. But the SNP is after his Commons seat
The US economy is under threat because of its neglected infrastructure

The US is getting frayed at the edges

Public spending on infrastructure is only half of Europe’s, and some say the nation’s very prosperity is threatened, says Rupert Cornwell
Mad Men final episodes: Museum exhibition just part of the hoopla greeting end of 1960s-set TV hit

New Yorkers raise a glass to Mad Men

A museum exhibition is just part of the hoopla greeting the final run of the 1960s-set TV hit
Land speed record: British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

Bloodhound SSC will attempt to set a new standard in South Africa's Kalahari desert
Housebuilders go back to basics by using traditional methods and materials

Housebuilders go back to basics - throwing mud at the wall until it sticks

Traditional materials are ticking all the construction boxes: they are cheap, green – and anyone can use them
Daniel Brühl: 'When you have success abroad, you become a traitor. Envy is very German'

Daniel Brühl: 'Envy is very German'

He's got stick for his golden acting career and for his beloved restaurant - but Daniel Brühl is staying put in Berlin (where at least the grannies love him)
How Leica transformed photography for ever: Celebrating 100 years of the famous camera

Celebrating 100 years of Leica

A new book reveals how this elegant, lightweight box of tricks would transform the way we saw life on the street and in fashion, on the battlefield and across the world