I watched “The Little Mermaid Live” so you don't have to.
To be honest, I went into watching this with very low expectations. The past ABC live-action productions have been very hit or miss, and this was definitely another miss the network can add to their collection.
The show opened with the original voice of Ariel, Jodi Benson, announcing that it was the musical's 30th anniversary. The performer didn’t sing at all which was definitely a missed opportunity.
With it being over three decades since the original film, you’d think Disney would want to pull out all the stops. After the closing of "The Little Mermaid" on Broadway years ago, I was hoping Disney was going to set things right this time. Spoiler alert: they didn’t.
The show had some questionable costumes, along with some good ones as well as some pretty good sets. The production itself would go back and forth from showing the original film and some live action performances.
They should have either had a special, showing live performances, similar to the “A Very Wicked Halloween” special "Wicked" had last year, or just had a showing of the movie with facts and behind the scenes clips.
The back and forth didn’t make any sense. Going in and out of the live action was kind of awkward and annoying. There was also a lack of acting in the special, and the live parts I did enjoy made me want to see more good things, but they never came.
There wasn’t as nearly as much live action moments as there should have been. I appreciate the attempt at originality, but I just don’t think it was as entertaining as they hoped it would be.
Now, let’s talk about this cast.
First of all, that live action flounder was terrifying. Queen Latifah, Amber Riley and Graham Phillips did really well, and John Stamos was better than expected. Shaggy’s voice was perfect for the role, and his dancing was entertaining to watch, to say the least.
Auli'i Cravalho played Ariel, and I love her, but she was a very on-the-nose choice for the role of Ariel, and I wish they would have spiced it up a bit.
Her Ariel lacked a bubbly spirit and personality, and I know she’s definitely capable of doing this, so I was disappointed. Actors like Stamos and Latifah who had less screen time showed more emotion and made more of an impression than she did during the whole show.
Speaking of the live action film, I don’t understand why Disney decided to do this special at the same time that they are planning for the film. The film is more than enough to celebrate the anniversary of the movie. Plus, with a cast without Harry Styles and with Melissa McCarthy, so far things are not looking good.
Up until now, the only thing about the live action film that I love is the casting of Halle Bailey as Ariel.
I was really hoping for Lizzo or a drag queen to play the part of Ursula either in this version or in the live-action movie, you know, since the original character was inspired by iconic drag queen, Divine.
Like I said earlier, I enjoyed the small part of what I got to see of Phillips playing the role of Prince Eric, and I will say it made me the tiniest bit hopeful again for the live action film.
After careful thought and consideration, I suggest Darren Criss, Shawn Mendes, Gavin Leatherwood or Jordan Fisher for the role of Prince Eric in the live-action film. I really hope Disney doesn’t let me down with this one.
Overall, I appreciated the attempt at realism in this special, but they could have taken the great things about the Broadway version of this musical and made it better. They had the opportunity to learn from the past, and they once again didn’t make the mark. Hopefully the third time is the charm with the live-action film.