tek's rating: ½

The Little Mermaid Live!, on ABC
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This aired live on November 5, 2019 (about two weeks before the 30th anniversary of The Little Mermaid). It's the first time ABC has done a live TV musical since NBC started the trend in 2013. (As of this time, NBC has done five such specials, and FOX has done four. Five, if you include Rocky Horror, which you shouldn't because it wasn't live, but I can't help thinking of it as part of the trend, anyway, because at least it's a musical.) And "Little Mermaid" was itself only partly live. Mostly, the special showed the 1989 animated movie, but the broadcast broke from that whenever there was a song, which would be performed live, by different artists than voiced the characters in the movie. (Although the special was introduced by Jodi Benson, who had voiced Ariel in the original movie.) In the live version, Ariel was played by Auliʻi Cravalho, who had previously voiced the title character in Disney's Moana. Ursula was played by Queen Latifah, Sebastian was played by Shaggy, Chef Louis was played by John Stamos, and the emcee at the "Daughters of Triton" concert was played by Amber Riley (whom I know from Glee). Prince Eric was played by Graham Phillips, who isn't really familiar to me.

Anyway, I don't feel the need to explain any of the plot here, since it's exactly the same as the movie. The only differences were a couple of songs that weren't in the movie, as well as the opening song, "Fathoms Below" being longer than in the movie. (These changes came from an earlier stage production, which I haven't seen.) So... I enjoyed the special, on the whole. It probably would have been better if it was entirely live, though I suppose that would have required a much larger budget, and still the parts that were just story wouldn't have been nearly as good as the songs. Because those were more than just great singing, they were also incredibly fun to watch. All the costumes and props and visual effects and dancing (and some flying to simulate swimming) were just amazing. The one problem I had was that there were some problems with the audio quality, though I'm not sure how much of that might have been the fault of the TV I watched it on. At any rate, the sound quality on the YouTube videos is much clearer than it was on my TV. (Although as of this writing, not all of the songs have been released on YouTube.) And... right after Chef Louis's song, Stamos ad-libbed a joke, and he flubbed it (then immediately corrected himself), which made me feel kind of bad for him. He must have felt pretty embarrassed, I would think. (But that was cut from the YouTube video of his song, and I wonder whether it will also be cut whenever the special is released on home video.) And I guess I don't know what else to say.

Wonderful World of Disney
specials index

ABC Live Musicals
The Little Mermaid * Beauty and the Beast