The Critics

featured a comprehensive and illustrated review of the series when it was released on DVD.


at the BBC features a handful of pages about Maelstrom. The reviews are hardly complimentary but they do include a few publicity pix for the series and a couple of video clips that are a right pain to get to play!!

Comments include "Sadly, despite some fairly good efforts by the actors, Maelstrom suffered from a glacial pace to go with its glacial lakes. It's a little bit like watching an Oslo Film Authority documentary on the wonders of Formica."

The BBC also chose some curious stills to promote the series.



A great review by website visitor Martin Edwards.


I am grateful to Elizabeth Eccher who sent me the following review of the series from the New York Times.

Copyright 1986 The New York Times Company
The New York Times
June 16, 1986, Monday, Late City Final Edition

SECTION: Section C; Page 16, Column 3; Cultural Desk

BILLED as a thriller, a six-part drama series called ''Maelstrom'' gets under way tonight at 8 on cable's Arts & Entertainment Network. Produced in 1984 by Vere Lorrimer for the British Broadcasting Corporation, it is not a typical British import. There are no period costumes or settings. There are no familiar faces from the standard repertory company that supplies so much of British television with so many impressive performances. In fact, except for the few opening scenes, the story doesn't even take place in England or an appropriate vestige of what was once the British Empire. ''Maelstrom'' was shot on location in Norway and, if nothing else, the scenic splendor should quicken the pulses of travel agents.

Written by Michael J. Bird, the story begins in a London advertising agency as Catherine Durrell (Tusse Silberg), in her late 20's, learns that business is off and she has become ''redundant.'' The shock of unemployment is eased slightly by a severance check for a year's pay. Further, Catherine is soon being summoned to a solicitor's office where she learns of a mysterious bequest. Expecting perhaps a set of spoons, she learns that a deceased Mr. Jordahl, from the west coast of Norway, has left her a substantial tract of property, two houses and a factory that produces dried, salted codfish. In fact, Catherine was born in Oslo. Her mother was Norwegian, her father British. Both parents are now dead. One snag: Catherine has never heard of Mr. Jordahl.

Setting off to collect her bounty, Catherine arrives in Bergen, the ''gateway to the fjords,'' and uses a coastal steamer service for the trip to Mr. Jordahl's town. On board, in one of the cabin corridors, she glimpses a woman who seems as threatening as she is mysterious. Upon arrival, she meets Mr. Jordahl's two daughters, a bit younger than herself. Ingrid, married to Lars, is somewhat tense but polite. Anna Marie, a successful furniture designer, is cool and sophisticated. Catherine feels awkward about her inheritence, but the two sisters seem genuinely hospitable. ''It's a mystery to us, too,'' says Anna Marie pleasantly, ''but that's what my father wanted.''

Needless to day, things are not as simple as they seem. We have, after all, five more 50-minute episodes to get through. The strange woman on the steamer was not just happening by. Before long, Catherine is noticing that certain family paintings are marked by motifs of horror. A room in the strange house on an island -the house where Mr. Jordahl's wife had long ago committed suicide - remains locked and inaccessible. Catherine is getting increasingly uneasy and, sure enough, a young journalist, conducting a private investigation, informs her that Mr. Jordahl was probably murdered.

The scene is thus laboriously set for Gothic machinations. For a while, ''Maelstrom'' does generate an odd sort of spookiness. But dialogue seems almost ominously flat, the performances lifeless. We wonder if David Maloney, the director, is using the supposed Norwegian personality (someone explains that ''Norwegians are rather shy and reserved'') to achieve pointed theatrical effects. But, in time, it becomes apparent that there is little art to the method. The production and the performances really are flat and lifeless.

The Maelstrom, incidentally, is a famous whirlpool off the west coast of Norway. The word maelstrom has come to signify a violently confused or turbulent state of mind and emotions. This British version rarely manages to be more than mildly worrying. Six episodes are an indulgence. Three would have done nicely.

GRAPHIC: photo of Ann Todd, Tusse Silberg and David Beames (BBC Enterpises Limited)

Michael J Bird Tribute Website

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