TOP 13 BEST LITTLE MERMAID THE ANIMATED SERIES EPISODES

Theme Song by Brian Setzer and owned by Walt Disney Records

It’s been a while since I did a top # list and even longer since I talked about the Atlantican universe. For those of you who missed out on my first blogging event called Mermaid Month then let bring you up to speed on the fact that Little Mermaid is the film that made me become a Disney fan. In that event I reviewed the trilogy, the show that I’m going to discuss here and two albums.

This particular idea came from the Nostalgia Critic’s countdown of the Top 11 Batman the Animated Series episodes. Originally I was just going to countdown my favorite episodes from the same show because Batman TAS is my favorite show, but I decided against it because I could do that another time and it’s way too obvious. Come on. We all know why Batman TAS is the best animated series ever why do you need my two cents this very minute? So I went with another favorite show of mine The Little Mermaid TAS. This show was great! The show is a prequel series to the original film that follows Ariel, Sebastian, and Flounder on their adventures in Atlantica. It nailed the fact that Ariel is an adventurer and explorer first and a princess second. It expanded on the world giving us insight into Atlantican culture and politics (yes even politics). This is where Atlantica became more than just a setting it became a universe and the characters became real people instead of archetypes.  The episodes were fun, funny, sweet, and exciting. These are the episodes that I felt were the best adventures and experiences of our favorite mermaid. TOP 13 BEST LITTLE MERMAID THE ANIMATED SERIES EPISODES!!!! BEWARE OF SPOLIERS!!!!!

Series Intro

Theme by Alan Menken and owned by Walt Disney Records

#13 “BEACHED” AND “RED”

 

Okay I know I’m cheating by doubling up the slots, but the show is just that good that some slots will have two episodes. The episode “Beached” is a fine episode that examines something the original film never touched upon: Ariel’s relationships with her sisters. The story is basically Ariel and her sister Arista get into an argument and King Triton “beaches”(Atlantican equivalent of grounding) them which means they can’t go with the rest of the family to the annual carnival. Sebastian is also ordered to stay behind and supervise the girls. The girls are still bitter until they spot two salt water gators trying to break into the palace and steal the royal treasure. The episode then turns into a “Home Alone” rip off where the girls team up and rig the palace with Gator Traps. As the episode progresses Ariel and Arista get along and come closer together as siblings.

The other episode “Red” is another family based episode. The story is about how King Triton is going through a mid life crisis and laments that he can’t do the things he used to do. Ariel wants to help him and a palace staff member named Glowfish (who has his eye on the royal jewels) offers to help. Glowfish has made an ally of an evil sorceress that wants vengeance on Triton because he imprisoned her in a cave when Triton was a young adult. She gives Glowfish a mystical stone and a flute to activate the stone’s powers. Glowfish tells Ariel that the stone will make Triton feel young. Triton has the stone and Glowfish plays the flute and the spell turns Triton into a merboy about 8 years old. Ariel and Sebastian are absolutely shocked and dismayed because an 8 year old now wields the trident like it’s a toy. Ariel takes on the responsibility of his guardian and starts to ironically act like her father by saying “humans are dangerous”! I don’t mind this more mature Ariel and I didn’t mind it in Little Mermaid 2 either. Some people say that makes her a hypocrite, but I don’t think that because that’s a natural part of growing up. I’m sure those of you that have children that when you discipline your kids you tell them the exact same thing your parents told you or at least something similar. That’s what this is. Anyway when Ariel interrogates Glowfish he takes them to the cave and it was a trap so the sorceress could get the trident and free herself. The spell on triton wears off and he reclaims the trident. This was a very nice and heartfelt episode of Ariel coming to appreciate what her father goes through and what she could eventually go through as a parent (Little Mermaid 2 had source material and they still screwed up their story except for the irony of Ariel acting like Triton in some respects).

 

#12 “URCHIN”

This was the introduction to an original character created for the show named Urchin. Urchin is an orphan who lives on the outskirts of Atlantica and seems to have lived on his own for at least 5 years or so. We don’t know what happened to his parents giving a sense of mystery about the character. He gets involved with the wrong crowd when the infamous Lobster Mobster and his sidekick Shrimp try to take over Urchin’s house. Lobster Mobster convinces Urchin to conduct petty theft and return with the goods. Ariel catches him and follows him home and tries to convince him to apologize to the king. The episode continues to show the developing friendship of Ariel and Urchin and Ariel trying to redeem him and to resolve the problem of the Lobster Mobster (who along with Shrimp make a very funny duo). Another great thing about this episode is that it has Sebastian act like a gangsta! It’s hilarious and not only is he a gangsta he’s the straight man when he’s acting like that. You’ll never hear the phrase “May I borrow your hat?” with a straight face ever again! Also it establishes the possibility that Urchin has feelings for Ariel and that only slightly develops throughout the course of the show.

 

#11 “LAND OF THE DINOSAURS” AND “HEROES”

This episode came out about a year after Jurassic Park so as we all know after that movie was released every kid’s show at the time had to have a dinosaur episode and Mermaid was no exception. The story is that Ariel finds ancient ruins that contain a map to the lost island of Prehistoria where dinosaurs are said to reside. There’s also a subplot where King Triton wants to concentrate on his job, but Sebastian just won’t shut up and is driving Triton crazy. This particular subplot is hilarious. I love the gags where Triton actually tries to hide himself from Sebastian and he totally fails. Ariel suggests that Triton needs a vacation and says the frozen north is a good location (and also happens to be the general location of Prehistoria). Once there Ariel and Flounder go off and eventually find Prehistoria where all the dinosaurs have been preserved in ice. When an avalanche of ice comes crashing down flounder is frozen. Ariel rushes back to the resort and takes the trident to thaw out Flounder. It has a neat scene where Ariel has the ability to concentrate and focus her mind so she can use the trident effectively. After Flounder is busted out she gets the foolish idea of releasing the dinosaurs (including the T-Rex!!!!!!!!!!!)! She’s lucky there were no Velociraptors on the island or they would all be dead. This obviously turns into a serious problem. Ariel and Triton have to fend off the dinosaurs and corral them back onto Prehistoria (apparently dinosaurs are amphibious in this universe, able to walk and breath underwater no problem). Although there are serious logistical problems with the dinosaurs the sense of adventure and the comedy are more than enough to support it and it’s Ariel standing up to dinosaurs!! That’s just awesome!!!!!

The episode of “Heroes” is another adventure story. The interesting thing is that it delves into Atlantican history and talks about a war that King Triton fought against a militant group called the Octopans(unbeknownst to Triton was that Ursula was their leader). A hero from that war named Apollo is returning to Atlantica after exploring the 7 seas. Ariel has always been inspired by the legends of Apollo and can’t wait to meet him. Apollo says that he now wants to find Valhalla the land of heroes. Ariel and Flounder want to accompany him and Apollo reluctantly agrees. The episode carries on to have the Octopans regrouping, and with Ursula’s assistance plot to wage war on Atlantica again, and Ariel and Flounder learning the truth behind Apollo’s fame. This is a great episode because it’s genuinely exciting and has a sort of Indiana Jones feel by having our heroes go through trials and booby traps to succeed. The theme is also great about how people we look up to may not always be what they appear, but always have the potential to become someone admirable. We also get to see mervikings!!!!!!!!!!!! Also one of the Mervikings is voiced by Clancy Brown who voiced the DC Animated Universe’s Lex Luthor! And Apollo was voiced by Hellboy himself Ron Perlman!!!!!! I forgot to mention the guest star list is awesome!!!!!!!!!! The guest stars they got for the show were really impressive!!!! You had Mark Hamill, Clancy Brown, Ron Perlman, and Tim Curry!!!!!!! You have the Rocky Horror transvestite, Hellboy, Lex Luthor, and Luke Skywalker/ Joker appear in your show!! Do I even need to say how AWESOME that is!!!!!!!

 

#10 “EVIL MANTA” AND “A LITTLE EVIL”

This is the last doubling up of episodes. I promise. The episode “Evil Manta” introduces Ariel’s arch nemesis named well,… the Evil Manta.  The episode has King Triton and Sebastian leave Atlantica to attend a rather boring racing event. While Ariel and Flounder are exploring and collecting crystals (hopefully not the Elemental Crystals from Final Fantasy 1) they hear a voice pleading for help. Ariel agrees to help the trapped creature, but soon realizes that she unleashed a great evil on the oceans. After the Evil Manta escapes he proceeds to destroy Atlantica by spreading doubt, fear, hatred and prejudice to the citizens of Atlantica leaving Ariel and Flounder to stop him. This is a great episode. The greatest thing about it is the title character. Most of the show’s villains are played for laughs (Ursula and the Octopans are an exception), but this guy was pure evil and enjoyed every second of it. He’s also the one that came closest to taking over Atlantica. He’s intelligent and attacks Atlantica where it matters most: the bonds and friendships between the citizens. He knows that if he destroys the kingdom it can be rebuilt, but if he turns neighbor against neighbor those friendships will be much harder to mend if not impossible. He also knows that most nation fall because of internal conflict and he takes the natural jealousies inside the hearts of citizens and fuels it so that it takes control and bubbles to the surface. It’s also implied that he feeds off of negative emotions and with the city divided he is now extremely powerful (the episode constantly has his size increase) and actually has him basically in charge for the last part of the episode. The other great thing about the episode is its theme about the evils of prejudice. I know it has been done before, but the message is solid and they don’t defeat the Manta with those mushy emotions first. Ariel and Flounder actually try to capture him, but that doesn’t work and if they defeat him with brawn that only confuses the message. So Ariel sings a song called “In Harmony” (a great song) to remind Atlanticans of their past bonds and friendships to break the spell and through their kindness and friendship they drive the Manta away. I say that he is Ariel’s arch nemesis because of not only how intimidating and powerful he is, but because he’s like Darkseid in Superman TAS. No other villain in the show treated Ariel that badly. Ursula may have manipulated Ariel, but Ariel’s character flaws of being blinded by anger directed at her father played a big part in the deception and part of it was her fault despite the fact that Ursula was responsible for most of it. Manta took advantage of her kindness and helpful nature and he crushed it. Not only did he crush her spirit, but he then proceeded to destroy everything and everyone she loves by turning her friends and neighbors against each other and her. There’s also a scene where she remembers when she met Flounder and that reminds her that friendship and love will always triumph over the Manta’s cruelty. A great episode!!!!!!!!

This episode is the last Evil Manta episode. He appeared in a few others, but he merely served a minor role in them and was nowhere near as awesome as his first appearance. Here is a real and true Evil Manta episode. Now there is actually a problem I have with the episode. That problem is the character of the Little Evil who is the Evil Manta’s son. There are great things about this character and bad things about this character. I think the major problem is that it focuses on Little Evil way too much when it should focus on how Evil Manta is effected by the actions his son does (first of all how can he even have a son if he was trapped in a volcano for 1000 years and has only been out for about a year?). There are also painful indignities to Evil Manta such as having his love of evil taken to ridiculous extremes such as punishing Little Evil for asking nicely and how his proper behavior should be to throw temper tantrums because it’s “bad” and that anything “good” isn’t welcome in their home! LAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The episode basically has Ariel forming a friendship with Little Evil and she’s trying to teach him that if he’s not keen on doing evil things then he shouldn’t have to. That’s okay, but the house rules that Evil Manta has is just too destructive to the badass in his first appearance.

 

Since I’ve criticized the episode so much then why is it on the list? Well the answer is quite simply the third act of the episode! It starts when Evil Manta sings a song (he’s Tim Curry. You have to give him a song). It keeps true to the Manta’s character by singing a lullaby that is hopeful that Little Evil will become just like him. It’s not sung out of love but out of arrogance and egotism that he wants his son to be just like him which is great and when he sees that his son has befriended Ariel he is furious!!!!! He then takes the gloves off and resolves to kill Ariel. He intends to do this by inflicting a cruel fate that he so enjoys. Manta plans to use a pet called “Brain Sponge” to suck her brain out and then eat it. He wants to remove her thoughts, imagination, memories and dreams and then when she has nothing left her brain will get eaten by the Brain Sponge! That’s hardcore! Little Evil discovers that plan and makes a choice to help Ariel and the chase scene is genuinely exciting and the tension is really good. Also the twist that happens once the Brain Sponge catches Ariel is absolutely great and shows the kindness that Ariel can show even to her greatest enemy (an enemy that she probably still has slight hatred for because of the circumstances of Manta’s escape). Now I do have one more criticism and if you watch the episode you’ll quickly understand what it is, but the final scene is just completely out of character for the Evil Manta. He wouldn’t just stop his evil ways just because of the events of the climax. A flawed episode, but that 3rd Act is just too good!!!!!!!

 

#9 “KING CRAB”

This is a nice little episode that focuses on Sebastian. The episode has Sebastian’s parents coming to visit and yes they are just as quirky and eccentric as he is. Sebastian’s parents misinterpret a letter that he sent them and they think he’s King of Atlantica (Triton is away at the time so he doesn’t know about this). Sebastian doesn’t want to disappoint his parents so he, Ariel, Urchin and Flounder go along with it and pretend that Sebastian is King of Atlantica. Unfortunately Sebastian gets too caught up in the lie and suddenly becomes a jerk that has Ariel, Urchin and Flounder about to plot a revolution. To make matters worse the militaristic Sharkanian Empire are confused, but wish to take advantage of the opportunity. The evil leader Emperor Shaga has a “Magic Lamp” not, THE LAMP, but something much darker and Shaga uses it to create a powerful monster. The charade continues until the Sharkanians show up and a really impressive fight ensues between Triton and the monster. It also shows Ariel’s quick thinking that she utilizes to get out of trouble. After everything is said and done Sebastian learns that honesty is the best policy and that he doesn’t need to be in a king to get acceptance. To find out what this character trait truly spawns from join me in the next episode on the list.

As always stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon! All episodes belong to Walt Disney Television Animation

 

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