TOP 13 BEST LITTLE MERMAID THE ANIMATED SERIES EPISODES 

 

#8 “T’ANK YOU FOR DAT ARIEL”

If you recall my statement at the end of the previous entry in the countdown about how the show actually explains Sebastian’s motivations to constantly seek his parents’ approval then you get your explanation in this episode. It’s revealed in this episode that Sebastian has an inferiority complex. This episode is about how Sebastian feels like he’s pushed around, small and insignificant and he just cracks and that turns into constant seeking of approval! He lets his anger and sadness come out in force. What I love is that the show doesn’t come out and say he has an inferiority complex, but shows us this through Sebastian’s thoughts, feelings and behavior. It lets the audience actually use their brains and come to the conclusion themselves. After Sebastian loses it and goes home to calm down Ariel, Urchin and Flounder decide to do something special for him. They buy a map that leads them to a magic cave that is a cross between a Rockbiter and the Cave of Wonders. The cave tells them that “only one may enter” (yeah sound familiar) and whoever enters will be given magical powers. Ariel decides to go inside and ironically becomes a sea witch! She uses a spell to make Sebastian bigger so his problem can be solved, but she was given magic powers instead of being properly trained like Merlin, Mickey and the Keyblade Masters were and the spell was taken at a very literal level and Sebastian constantly grows throughout the episode till he’s a giant and it starts causing major problems (I’m surprised the show didn’t make a Godzilla joke). When Ariel decides to change Sebastian back to his normal size it doesn’t work because the cave’s magic is incredibly cheap that it goes away if you use a big spell and only works on a full moon. Sebastian keeps growing until he reaches the surface and some sailors go Moby Dick on him and ready their cannons and harpoons. Ariel tries to stop them with magic, but the spells are cheap and since she has no training the spells don’t work right. Ariel eventually uses her magic to correct all the recent events and tell Sebastian that they love him no matter what. This is really great because it makes Sebastian a much better character as opposed to just a simple supporting character and it also has impressive magical creativity.

 

#7 “AGAINST THE TIDE”

This episode is about how Ursula is having a bad day because her spells are always backfiring. She then comes across a really odd creature that is referred by everyone in the sea to be a “bad luck creature”. Ursula thinks that the creature is the source of her problem and attempts to kill it and the creature is injured in the chase. Ariel is sea horse riding and finds the creature and decides to take it to Atlantica to heal the wound.  The creature (named Lucky by Ariel) has always been an outcast and shunned because of the foolish superstitions and legends about it and is very lonely. Sebastian doesn’t help when he clearly shows his displeasure with having the creature in the palace. After Ariel resolves to help Lucky Sebastian caves and the more time he and Flounder spend with Lucky the more they come to like Lucky. Unfortunately Ursula sends Flotsam and Jetsam out to spy on the area and find the creature in the palace. When Triton returns from his trip Ariel tells him about the creature and Triton is very understanding, but takes a more pragmatic side because of the paranoia that Atlanticans have toward the creature. Then Ursula shows up and tricks Triton into firing a trident blast at her so she could absorb the magical energy to properly power her spells. She then proceeds to kill Lucky and she seemingly succeeds. As it turns out Sebastian made a model of the creature out of food to fool Ursula. Then Lucky lies down and starts to give birth! With the birth of Lucky’s babies Triton refuses to kick a family out of Atlantica and hopes that Lucky stays. This is a very sweet charming episode that not only shows Ariel’s kindness towards others in need, but also sheds light on how the concept of “luck” is used to deny personal responsibility and blame our failings on an innocent creature just because it looks weird. This is reflected in the way the creature is treated by other sea creatures. A great episode of giving help to others and also looking at our failings and to take responsibility for them.

 

#6 “METAL FISH”

This episode is a special one because it can be considered a “Finding Neverland” type episode or in this case “Finding Atlantica”. It’s about how Ariel comes into contact with a submarine shaped like a fish that is piloted by a researcher named Hanz Christian Anderson (the man who wrote the original fairy tale). The submarine isn’t built very well and it malfunctions. That leaves it up to Ariel and friends to save him. It also shows how as much as Triton hates humans he must recognize that there are innocent humans as well as the evil ones he fears. It sets up the reasons why Triton’s foreign policy with the surface world is that of pure isolationism and knowing what we know now about how Ariel’s presence on the land has helped heal those wounds (and as far as other nations finding out about Atlantica they’ll just think Eric’s kingdom is a little crazy so Atlantica won’t get destroyed by natural human qualities to destroy “lesser, savage and different” nations). The best part about this episode is the fact that Mark Hammil is the voice of Hanz Christian Anderson. It’s weird because I’m so used to him playing the Joker with his awesome laugh and his extremely goofy antics, but here he’s a very nice soft spoken and subtle person. It just shows how versatile he is. The ending is also great where Anderson is on a dock and he starts reading the first draft of the story to a bunch of children and it cuts to Ariel sitting on the rock like the statue in Copenhagen (real or just an image icon? You decide). I wonder how sad and traumatized the kids will be once he gets to the ending.

 

#5 “TAIL OF TWO CRABS”

This is a really funny episode. It’s another story about how Sebastian wants to prove his worth again, but this time it’s sparked by the arrival of Sebastian’s rival Zeus (also voiced by Mark Hammil). Zeus is like Mary Poppins he’s “practically perfect in every way”. Zeus shows up and starts upstaging Sebastian at his job as royal vizier and even his hobby of composer/conductor and Sebastian loses it!!!!! Sebastian becomes obsessed with finding something  he’s better at than Zeus no matter how stupid that thing is. The animation on his face is amazing it shows how insane Sebastian gets in this episode. The expression is so insane it makes you want to call Arkham Asylum. Anyway Sebastian challenges Zeus to an event he calls “The Great Crab Challenge” and yes there is actually canned gasping when Sebastian challenges Zeus. Anyway Ursula takes advantage of Sebastian’s jealousy by pretending to be a “Fairy Crab Mother” (yes, the show inserts Cinderella jokes). Ursula promises him the power to beat Zeus if he retrieves a magical glowing stone that (when the light is focused properly) turns anything in its path into a sea worm. Sebastian retrieves the stone and is given phony powers and proceeds to lose every single solitary event in the Challenge. It’s just gag after gag of how pathetic Sebastian is and how freakishly awesome and creepy Zeus is (what do I mean by creepy? Watch the part where Zeus says “it’s the middle of the night” and proceeds into his stalker like accounts). After Zeus defeats Ursula Zeus makes a confession at one thing Sebastian is better at than him. What is it? Watch the episode. This is a really funny episode with plenty of gags to keep you chuckling throughout. Mark Hammil plays Zeus really well as this charming yet extremely pompous crab that is at first perfect at everything, but what he’s not perfect at makes perfect sense and it shows the curse and in some respects tragedy of being too perfect, but in the end he gains a good friend in Sebastian. Even when the friendship is established they still throw in a few gags one hilarious gag is related to crying. It’s hilarious, but I’m not saying anything else!! Great episode!!!

 

#4 “THE BEAST WITHIN”

This can be called one of the Halloween episodes in the show. It’s about how Ariel, Urchin, Sebastian and Flounder go on an adventure and a monster attacks them in a cave and it ends up biting Flounder. Earlier Sebastian was given a trophy as a “25 year anniversary as royal advisor present” from Triton, but Triton just gave it to Sebastian to get rid of it because it’s an ugly and tacky trophy. Since the trophy is big and clunky it slows Sebastian down so the monster can eat him. So Urchin makes a split second decision and throws the trophy to distract the monster and the monster proceeds to eat it much to Sebastian’s horror. Sebastian is very upset about this and his friendship with Urchin has been seriously strained. To make the situation worse Flounder was bitten by a Howling Hairfish which is the Atlantican equivalent of a werewolf and Flounder was bitten so he transforms into a Howling Hairfish! Flounder takes off and goes on a rampage and Ariel feels extremely guilty about what happened. The episode turns into a desperate race against time for Ariel and friends to find the cure for the Howling Hairfish curse and hopefully repair the rifts that have been made in the friendships of our characters. What makes this an excellent episode (and the series as a whole extremely good) is the fact that it’s more than just the adventure it’s about how the adventure affects the characters and the relationships between them. This show is very character based and some other shows would have just focused on stopping the monster while here we get to see how this has affected the characters and focusing on the theme of forgiveness. Ariel feels absolutely terrible for what happened to Flounder and is worried that her friendship is compromised. It reminds us that Ariel is flesh and blood and can make mistakes and does everything she can to make it right. This is what makes us more attached to the character as opposed to the flawless hero we see in other shows. It sort of reminds me of Batman TAS where the majority of episodes were character based and with a loose scenario set up they just let the characters go and show how characters think and feel about the events that transpire. There were some episodes where Batman was wrong and made mistakes and had to deal with the consequences of those mistakes just like Ariel trying her damndest to find the cure for Flounder. A great episode with excellent writing and character interaction and relationships.

#3 “MARRIAGE OF INCONVENIENCE”

This is an episode that showcases other nation in the undersea realm. The story is about how Triton gets an idea of partnering Ariel with Prince Thor of the kingdom of Olympia for the aquabatics competition in the Sea Games, but Urchin mistakes it for Triton arranging a marriage for Ariel. Now this isn’t your typical misunderstanding where the characters don’t communicate with each other because they do and they point out how ridiculous Urchin’s claims are it’s just that the vocabulary they use could go for marriage or a partnership in an event. The main thing about this episode is that it pretty much confirms that Urchin has feelings for Ariel. He’s doesn’t want her to get married and he tries his hardest to make sure that doesn’t happen. The situation worsens when Prince Thor actually shows up to inspect his new partner (he’s an arrogant and misogynistic prick). The misunderstanding grows and grows and urchin plays all manner of pranks on Thor until he gets fed up and leaves. This turns out to be a big mistake because the Olympians are war mongers, but they’ve never really had a reason to go to war and the other reason Triton wanted to partner Thor and Ariel in the games was not only for their talent, but for diplomatic purposes. Urchin’s jealousy and hasty conclusion destroys the diplomatic talks and the Olympians have their excuse to go to war. Triton returns home and explains the possibly severe repercussions of their actions and wouldn’t you know it the Olympians declare war on Atlantica! Triton goes out to defend his kingdom and Ariel goes to find Thor and explain the misunderstanding. Urchin again comes to the wrong conclusion and goes out, but gets hit a gigantic shell (they use it for the same deadly purposes as a cannonball so yes, the fact is he really could have died from the shrapnel) Urchin wakes up and the war comes to an abrupt end after everything has been explained. This episode has a great set up and even good gags when Urchin tries to get Thor to leave for the second time where even Ariel and Sebastian are in on it and you get to see Ariel as you’ve never seen her before, absolutely insane! It’s another one of those call Arkham Asylum situations. When you watch the episode you’ll know when it when you see it. This episode by itself would have been lower on the list, but the fanboy in me puts it so high because it recognizes something that could have been. I wanted a romance between Ariel and Urchin. They have great chemistry, there’s a bunch of things related to Urchin’s backstory that have yet to be fleshed out and the audience gets insight into how much he cares about her. Now that this entire show is considered to be in an alternate universe I do believe that they’re together.

 

#2 “CALLIOPE DREAMS”

This episode is the best comedic episode hands down! This is absolutely hilarious! It makes me laugh every time I watch it. It’s like a Warner Bros. cartoon and I love it!!!!!!! It starts with Ariel witnessing a harp falling off a ship and landing at the bottom of the sea. She is immediately interested in playing it, but Triton has a surprise for her. He reveals that he has built an instrument called the Sea Calliope for her. Triton wants Ariel to play it because it has a sentimental value to Triton that is explained in a heartwarming flashback. Well Ariel is absolutely terrible at playing the Calliope. Her playing is so bad that it wakes up the best character in this episode the Ancient Seaclops. He’s a one eyed tentacle monster that will provide us with much laughter during this episode! The Seaclops is pretty much the underwater Wiley Coyote a character who has a goal (the complete destruction of the Sea Calliope) and tries his hardest to attain the goal and fails every single time! The gags are hilarious with outrageous slapstick things happening to him you have to feel sympathy for the Seaclops because all he wants to do is get a good millennia’s sleep.  Ariel wants to play the harp, but doesn’t want to disappoint Triton. Things get worse when Triton actually arranges a recital and the Seaclops (recovering from his last slapstick gag) crashes the recital and destroys the Calliope and goes on a rampage. Ariel figures out that the only way to pacify the Seaclops is to play a soft and slow lullaby (like from a harp?). We get more slapstick when Sebastian plays virtually every instrument and constantly gets smacked around by the Seaclops keeping with the gag after gag pacing of the episode. It ends with a very sweet scene with Ariel telling triton the truth about how she’s not cut out for playing the Sea Calliope, but has a solution that makes Triton proud. And now for the (in my opinion) the BEST LITTLE MERMAID TAS EPISODE IS……

 

#1 “ISLAND OF FEAR”

I’ve got 6 words to say about this episode and if you’re not hooked by the power of these words then what kind of nerds are you? The words are “ARMY OF GIANT MUTATED CRAB MONSTERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” There really isn’t anything I can say to top that, but I’m going to give you a synopsis anyway. Ariel, Flounder, Sebastian and his Crab Scouts (Crab version of the Boy/ Girl Scouts) are on their way to the beach. Ariel and Flounder are talking to Scuttle (the show also explains how they met Scuttle, but the episode didn’t make the cut) while Sebastian and the Crab Scouts are on a field trip to the beach. They’re fun is cut short when an ominous, green toxic substance comes floating into the ocean. Ariel and the gang send the Crab Scouts to warn King Triton about the pollution while Ariel and company follow the trail back to the source and try to shut it down. The trail leads them to a mad scientist’s lair where the scientist named Dr. Vile is conducting “CRAB EXPERIMENTS” (said in deep over the top creepy voice with lightning flashes and thunder sound effects, yes it’s a running gag). Sebastian ends up getting captured by Dr. Vile and is the next subject in the “CRAB EXPERIMENTS”, but he eludes him and ends up in the care of Dr. Vile’s apprentice named Daniel. Daniel comes from a poor home and his family needs the money so he continues his apprenticeship despite the fact that Dr. Vile is evil. After hearing Daniel’s story a friendship forms between Sebastian and Daniel. Ariel and Flounder search the catacombs of the castle laboratory while Scuttle searches up high and various genuinely suspenseful scenes are played out where Dr. Vile traps Ariel and Flounder so they can be eaten by a Crab Monster and once again Ariel is called upon to use her quick thinking and basic understanding of human technology to get out of trouble. Dr. Vile finds Sebastian and is about to experiment on him, but Scuttle shows to save him and a nice chase scene occurs. Once everyone is out Ariel and Sebastian go back and find Daniel in trouble so they proceed to destroy the waterwheel that powers the facility. Ariel throws a wrench into the gears and the wheel blows up! Daniel is safe and goes his merry way and Triton creates a storm to break up the leftover pollution while Ariel and company head home after a fantastic adventure! I LOVE THIS EPISODE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think the main reason why is because it takes everything the average person would expect from something Little Mermaid related and turns it upside down. It has everything, satire of old school Universal Studios Frankenstein Horror Movies, surprisingly elaborate chase scenes, army of giant mutated crab monsters, suspenseful moments, explosions, dark and gothic castle laboratories, scary moments to really young children, well written environmentalist undertones, and the classic Disney charm, humor and heart. An absolutely brilliant episode!!!!!!!!!!

 

CONCLUSION

I hope you enjoyed this list of an excellent show that followed in the footsteps of revolutionary shows like Batman TAS and Ducktales with its well written stories and characters, exceptional acting, and character relationships. Stay tuned next time where I review a well known Don Bluth movie that often gets mistaken for a Disney movie called Anastasia!!

all episodes owned by Walt Disney Television Animation

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.