Disney's The Little Mermaid (the series) premiered in 1992, marking Disney's first venture in taking the premise of a classic movie and turning it into a television series. While nowadays Disney sequels and tv series are pretty common, they weren't so once upon a time. When I first stumbled upon this series, I was pretty much shocked, because there was Ariel, whom I loved and adored, and previously I'd only been limited to seeing her movie, but now I could see even more of her? I'm so there!
The series itself is a prequel, focusing on a fifteen-year-old Ariel's underwater adventures as she is still very much a mermaid. She's younger than the we see her in the movie, for this Ariel is much more playful and even more ignorant of the ways of humans. Each episode has Ariel and her friends having adventures in their underwater realm, wild and carefree.
Thirty-one episodes were made in all, and my favourites tended to be the ones where we learn more about Ariel, her sisters, her friends, her father, and life under the sea. There are moments of contradiction and continuity errors, but that kind of thing is to be expected since Disney continuity ebbs and flows with tide. All episodes were light-hearted and thus hadn't much potential in delving to the deeper aspects but it was lovely, simple fun. There were a couple of songs featured the series, although nothing truly spectacular like in the movie soundtrack. The animation itself was pretty good for the first couple of episodes, but it kinda went downhill after a while, which is to be expected also.
Quite a number of actors who provided their voices for the film returned to voice the same characters in the series, such as Jodi Benson for Ariel, Samuel E. Wright for Sebastian and Kenneth Mars for Triton. However, some characters had to have new voice actors, such as Flounder and Ariel's sisters.
Some of the series episodes have been released on VHS video, which is where I first got the chance to watch them. The videos have been discontinued, but copies are still circulating ebay and other online marketplaces. The full, complete series has yet to be released on any format. *shakes fist*
A set of season 1 episodes were released on video packaged as Disney's The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventures, and featured two bundled episodes per video.
A second set of Season 2 episodes were packaged as Disney Princess Collection: Ariel's Songs and Stories and featured a completely new title sequence and opening song. The bundled episodes of this set are:
The above seem to be the "official" US set, while in some regions of the world there were two more VHS bundles: