Faerie Tale Theatre (1982–1987)
6 user 2 critic

The Little Mermaid 

1:04 | Trailer
A mermaid princess is willing to sacrifice anything for love.


Robert Iscove


Hans Christian Andersen (story), Anne Beatts (teleplay)





Episode cast overview:
Pam Dawber ... Pearl
Helen Mirren ... Princess Emilia
Treat Williams ... Prince Andrew
Karen Black ... Sea Witch
Brian Dennehy ... King Neptune (Narrator) (voice)
Donna McKechnie ... Anemone
Laraine Newman ... Coral
Guy Boyd ... The Captain
Geoff Hoyle Geoff Hoyle ... First Mate
Carinthia West Carinthia West ... Charlotte
Shawn Erler Shawn Erler ... Boy on the Beach


A mermaid princess is willing to sacrifice anything for love.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Did You Know?


In this, one of the last episodes to air, Pam Dawber plays the title role. Her 'Mork and Mindy' costar, Robin Williams, played the title role in the very FIRST episode, 'The Tale of the Frog Prince.' See more »


Version of The Silver Moonlight (2015) See more »

User Reviews

Worth going under the sea for
3 July 2017 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

There is a lot to like about the 'Faerie Tale Theatre' series.

Many of their adaptations of various well-known and well-loved fairy tales are charming, clever and sometimes funny, a few even emotionally moving. 'Faerie Tale Theatre' puts its own magical spin (whether playing for laughs or straight) on the best of the episodes while still capturing the essence of the stories, while also giving further enjoyment in seeing talented performers in early roles or in roles that are departures from their usual roles.

Based on one of Hans Christian Andersen's most justifiably famous and popular stories, while not quite one of the best of the series (it almost is though, a big improvement on the still above average if disappointing "The Princess Who Had Never Laughed" and "Rip Van Winkle"), "The Little Mermaid" is worth going under the sea for, apologies for the somewhat cheesy and not as witty as one would have liked review summary. Mostly try and refrain from commenting on individual comments and previous reviews, but the two previous positive reviews do a very good job countering the critical one, who does seem to miss the point of the series.

Sure, this 'Little Mermaid' may not quite have the memorability factor of Disney's versions, nor the production values, the unforgettable music or as quite as much the entertainment and charm. It fares very well on its own though and is a much better and more faithful adaptation of the Andersen story, with the messaging intact, the basic structure and the sad ending. Just for the record, 'Faerie Tale Theatre's' versions of these great stories, even with their own additions and embellishments which add to the storytelling and characterisation, have always been better and more faithful adaptations than their Disney counterparts, which while having more of the memorability factor in most cases were never exactly known for their fidelity to the source materials (but unlike some personally never held that against them).

'Faerie Tale Theatre's' version of 'The Little Mermaid' is not perfect by all means. The underwater special effects are artificially laughable even by 'Faerie Tale Theatre' standards, which always worked from a low budget but mostly looked pretty good considering. The way the mermaid and underwater characters move also have a hokey look, with the cords still being visible. This may sound like a nit-pick somewhat, but the reason for why the ship-wreck happened didn't quite ring true to me and seemed old hat, would have fared far better as a storm rather than any other cause. Then again, that may be just me.

However, there is still a sense of wonder under the sea and the mermaids themselves look good. It is once Pearl is on land when the production values fare much better, with more opulent costumes and sumptuous palace interiors and exteriors that have a surprising amount of grandeur. The music is beautifully orchestrated and sometimes has a sombre nature that is most fitting.

Writing doesn't resort to childish humour or mawkish sentimentality, instead it flows well and comes over as honest and poignant. The story is one of the most emotionally affecting, perhaps even the most poignant, episodes of 'Faerie Tale Theatre' and it was more than appropriate for the tone to be played straight. The messaging is there and admirable with a real emotional core and the ending made me well up admittedly.

Pam Dawber is very moving and nuanced as Pearl (having voiced Odette in the 80s anime version of 'Swan Lake' she is no stranger to that type of role), often not speaking a word and relying on facial expressions, eye contact and gestures. Treat Williams is a handsome and admirable Prince, while Helen Mirren is both manipulative and sincere and Karen Black has fun and has a touch of creepiness in the role of the Sea Witch. Brian Dennehy is a booming, sympathetic father figure and a sonorous narrator, while Loraine Newman and Donna McKechnie fare well as the sisters.

All in all, not one of the best episodes of 'Faerie Tale Theatre' but still very good. 8/10 Bethany Cox

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Release Date:

6 April 1987 (USA) See more »

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