9.30.2008

The Little Mermaid (1992)

And…we’ve come down.

Off an extreme animation high, that is. Prior to this series Disney made hit after hit cartoon, and Goof Troop truly was the last great cartoon they managed to pump out during their prime years in television animation. All good things must come to an end though, and every company hits a snag now and then. Disney’s hot streak came to a halt with the premiere of this series.

That’s not to say The Little Mermaid, which premiered on September 11, 1992 on CBS, is a bad series. I just don’t have too much to say about it, and reminds me of The New Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh in the sense that I never really thought much of this program. It doesn’t “fit in” with the rest of the crew – it was the first series not to be associated with The Disney Afternoon and never aired in the block. It was also the first Disney cartoon that was based off a previous successful theatrical film, and acts as a prequel to the movie of the same name which was released in 1989. It follows Ariel’s adventures as a mermaid living under the sea with her father, Sebastian and Flounder. Various episodes highlight her relationships with her friends, father and sisters, and usually involve her foiling the attempts of various enemies that intend to harm her or her kingdom.

The Little Mermaid premiered in prime time with the episode “A Whale Of A Tale” before being moved to Saturday mornings. It ran for a paltry 31 episodes, airing its last episode on November 26, 1994. Whereas many Disney cartoons before had major merchandising and published comics, there was minimal material for this series. I never saw much of a fandom grow from this program, and there’s not too much production information about it anywhere. I’m sure it was enjoyed by some kids back in the day, but personally I can’t recall even watching this series once all the way though.

A notable episode is “Metal Fish”, in which Ariel saves a human character named Hans Christian Andersen who is based on the real life author of the original fairy tale The Little Mermaid. The encounter inspires the character in the episode to “write” the story of The Little Mermaid. A voice-over at the end of the episode talks about the real Hans Christian Andersen, while the image on screen shows Ariel sitting on a rock in the style of the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen harbor. If this is to be chronologically accurate, it places the time frame in which this series takes place around 1836 when the story was first written, or shortly before 1837 when the story was actually published.

The last time this red-haired mermaid and her friends were seen in Canada was on Family Channel – when, I have no clue. It’s been a while though; I don’t think it’s aired since the late 90’s. I couldn’t find any episodes up on Youtube, which is another good indication that it wasn’t a really popular series. The Little Mermaid, I think, broke a long line in tradition – every Disney cartoon before had an upbeat, awesome opening and ending theme song, with lyrics. The opening theme song to this show was a combination of the songs “Part Of Your World”, “Under The Sea” and “Kiss The Girl” from the movie. And to make matters worse, it was the first Disney show to have a theme that was just instrumental. Boooooring.

2 comments:

ShameOnPretzel said...

Ah...I used to own a VHS tape with two episodes from "The Little Mermaid" series - I enjoyed it, but to tell you the truth, I couldn't describe any other eps than the one on the tape. In fact, the only other episodes I had seen were either featured as excerpts in the "Disney Sing-a-long" VHS tapes, or packaged in a "Disney Princesses" DVD that my younger sis got for Christmas. So yeah - I guess you can say "The Little Mermaid" was so-so.

Now "Aladdin: the Animated Series" - THERE'S some quality toonage! I remember being so excited to watch this on the Disney Channel after school when I was in my single digits, it really was a captivating show. Surpisingly, even more so now, over a decade later. Referring back to the "Disney Princesses" DVD, it also contained an "Aladdin" episode, but, compared to "The Little Mermaid", it still felt fresh - it was still great even after all these years, both in story and in animation.

Will you write about "Aladdin: the Animated Series" as well? Actually, is it on DVD now? It should!

Cathy said...

Some says The tale itself is considered by some feminists to contain a message about love and self-sacrifice, and the dangers of accepting abuse or inconsiderate treatment in the name of love. I agreed! I enjoyed watching the Dvd collection with my little sisters.