Faerie Tale Theatre: “The Little Mermaid” (1987)

This is easily one of my favorite episodes of “Faerie Tale Theatre.” From beginning to end this is a delight: The fairy tale itself is enchanting and melancholy, the casting is superb (in particular a sinister but sympathetic Karen Black), and the set design is impressive. It’s particularly memorable how the show manages to create a wonderful underwater kingdom that fills the screen with charming accouterments and imagination galore, and the art designer’s use of wind to mimic underwater movements is striking and memorable. Pam Dawber makes a lovely main character, and it’s a hoot to see Helen Mirren as her human rival for the Prince’s affection. Add in a terrific, sing-song musical score that brands the episode with a distinct sonic identity, and the finished product is one of the show’s most effective adaptations.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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