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

This is easily one of my favorite episodes of “Faerie Tale Theatre.” It’s an absolute delight from beginning to end: Hans Christian Andersen’s source material is both 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 episode 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 strikingly memorable. Pam Dawber makes a lovely main character, and it’s a hoot to see Helen Mirren as her 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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