The Little Mermaid premiered in the fall of 1992 with the animated prime time special called "Whale of a Tale," then moved to Saturday mornings. This series originally appeared on CBS, with an original run from 1992 to 1994. It was later shown in reruns on the Disney Channel and Toon Disney.
The show had aired on the Russian version of The Disney Afternoon block, and is one of few shows not to air in the US version of the Disney Afternoon but to air on the block in other countries.
Some of the episodes contain musical segments, featuring original songs written for the series. The opening theme to the show is a combination of the songs "Part of Your World", "Under the Sea", and "Kiss the Girl". The overture for the stage musical of The Little Mermaid is similar to this.
The show can be currently be seen on:
- Disney Cinemagic: France
- Disney Channel: Germany
- Disney Junior: Germany and America
- Sky Movies Disney: United Kingdom
The Little Mermaid television series is a prequel to the eponymous film. The story is set before the events in the 1989 film, and follows Ariel's adventures as a mermaid still living under the sea with her father, Sebastian and Flounder. Various episodes highlight her relationship with her friends, father and sisters, and usually involve Ariel foiling the attempts of various enemies that intend ill harm to her or to her kingdom.
- For a complete list of all of the episodes in the series, see List of The Little Mermaid episodes.
Most episodes revolve around Ariel's adventures in and around her home of Atlantica. While some have her encountering and solving a problem (sometimes of her own making) that arises, others show Ariel facing off against various villains. Some, but not all, episodes feature a musical number relating to the plot of the episode. As in the film, Ariel has a love for human things and is often shown adding to her collection. Likewise, she often clashes with her father due to her xenophobia regarding humans and human culture. At times, however, they do see eye to eye, as in the episode "Stormy." Ariel is shown attempting to ride a wild seahorse that her father warned her was dangerous. After Ariel is injured, she admits he was right about the danger; Triton later offers her a tamer sea horse more appropriate to her skills. Ariel's relationship with her siblings, specifically Alana and Arista, is shown in more detail.
One of the most notable episodes is "Metal Fish", in which Ariel encounters an animated version of Hans Christian Andersen, who was the real-life author of the original "The Little Mermaid." The episode also introduces Archimedes, a self proclaimed scholar of human culture, whose knowledge is more accurate than Ariel's. Mr. Andersen is shown exploring the sea in a primitive submarine capsule, which begins to leak air after an accident. Ariel confronts her father with the fact that, despite his hatred of humans, he, as well as all merpeople, are half-human in an attempt to appeal to his compassion and better nature in order to save Hans's life when his ship is stranded at the bottom of the ocean. The ploy, unsurprisingly, works, as Triton has always been depicted as a compassionate (if a somewhat conservative) monarch. Mr. Andersen's encounter with the merpeople appears to inspire the original tale. A voice-over at the end of the episode talks about the real Hans Christian Andersen, while the image on the 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, this places the time frame in which this series takes place at around 1836 when the story was first written or shortly before 1837 when the story was actually published.
This situation is repeated in The Legend of Tarzan episode "Tarzan and the Mysterious Visitor" where Tarzan meets his author Edgar Rice Burroughs who travels to Africa in search of inspiration for a new novel.
From the 1989 film
- Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson) - She is the seventh daughter of the sea king who loves to sing and go on adventures. She also has developed magic in season 2 (episode 9) to save her world.
- Sebastian (voiced by Samuel E. Wright) - A caribbean crab who acts as the king's adviser, court musician, and a baby-sitter-like figure for Ariel.
- Flounder (voiced by Bradley Pierce and Edan Gross) - Ariel's best friend is a tropical fish who follows along on her adventures, and can be easily scared.
- King Triton (voiced by Kenneth Mars) - He is Ariel's father and ruler of Atlantica who protects his kingdom with his magic trident.
- Scuttle (voiced by Maurice LaMarche) - He is a seagull who is friends with Ariel.
- Aquata (voiced by Mona Marshall), Andrina (voiced by Catherine Cavadini), Arista (voiced by Mary Kay Bergman), Attina (voiced by Kath Soucie), Adella (voiced by Sherry Lynn) and Alana (voiced by Kimmy Robertson) are Ariel's six older sisters.
- Ursula (voiced by Pat Carroll) is a cecaelia and powerful sea witch who occasionally antagonizes Ariel.
- Prince Eric (voiced by Jeff Bennett) - Ariel's future husband. He appears occasionally but is never seen by Ariel or her friends, preserving the continuity that they first encounter each other in the film.
- Max the Dog - Prince Eric's dog.
- Grimsby (voiced by Kay E. Kuter) - Eric's sailor friend.
- Chef Louis (voiced by Rene Auberjonois) - A chef who cooks any foods in the human world.
- Urchin (voiced by Danny Cooksey) - He is an orphan young merman and Ariel's friend. He shares her love for adventure and is unofficially her adopted brother.
- The Lobster Mobster (voiced by Joe Alaskey) - A lobster gangster following the style of the 1920s gangster stereotype.
- De Shrimp (voiced by David Lander) - A prawn who is the Lobster Mobster's sidekick.
- The Evil Manta (voiced by Tim Curry) - An evil man/manta ray hybrid who repeatedly tries to take over Atlantica.
- Pearl (voiced by Cree Summer) - A spoiled, thrill-seeking mermaid whose actions often lead to Ariel, as well as herself, getting in trouble.
- Spot - A killer whale cub whom Ariel adopted and secretly raised in the palace.
- Gabriella - A deaf-mute Latina mermaid who dreams of becoming a singer. Gabriella's sign language is translated by her octopus friend Ollie (who is voiced by Gabriel Damon). This character is based on a real person who was a fan of the show and died during its first season.
- Moray Eel (voiced by Dave Coulier) - A moray eel salesman and con-artist who occasionally sells items to Ariel that alternately help her or get her into trouble.
- The Crabscouts (occasionally voiced by J.D. Daniels, Anndi McAfee, Bradley Pierce, Malachi Pearson, and Whitby Hertford) - They are crab children, consisting of two boys and one girl, who are under the mentorship of Sebastian in a scout-like troop.
- Flo and Ebb (voiced by Kath Soucie and Jim Cummings) - Alligator criminals who first appear in the episode "Beached".
- The Magical Wishing Starfish (voiced by Tony Jay) - A giant starfish with a beard and crown who only appears in the episode "Wish Upon A Starfish".
- Edan Gross, the fourth person to voice Flounder after Bradley Pierce, went through puberty and his voice went to a deeper tone, but the voice director wasn't going to replace him due to obvious reasons. From then on, Edan continued to voice Flounder for the rest of the series, regardless of how low his voice was.
- Christopher Daniel Barnes wasn't able to voice to Eric in the series. Instead, he is replaced by Jeff Bennett.
- After the series ended in 1994, 6 years have passed until the sequel film The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea came out.
- Though Ariel doesn't see Eric's face during the series which was done on purpose to keep it canon to the movie, he unknowingly changes her perception of humans for she was initially fearful of humans but when she saw him free a dolphin from a net her perception of humans greatly changed.
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Songs: Disney Afternoon Theme
Shows: Adventures of the Gummi Bears (1985-90) • DuckTales (1987-90) • Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers (1989-90) • TaleSpin (1990-91) • Darkwing Duck (1991-92) • Goof Troop (1992-93) • Bonkers (1993-94) • Aladdin (1994-96) • Gargoyles (1994-97) • The Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show (1995) • Timon and Pumbaa (1995-98) • Quack Pack (1996) • Mighty Ducks (1996-97)
Shows aired only in international versions: The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1988-91) • Donald's Quack Attack (1992-93) • The Little Mermaid (1992-94) • 101 Dalmatians: The Series (1997-98) • Mickey Mouse Works (1999-00) • The Legend of Tarzan (2001-03) • Kim Possible (2002-07) • Lilo & Stitch: The Series (2003-06) • W.I.T.C.H. (2004-06)