TV Overview: ‘The Little Mermaid Reside’

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

“The Little Mermaid,” the animated Disney traditional, turned the newest movie to get a reside remedy on community tv. It aired on ABC final evening. And as NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says, the present had a couple of stumbles, the type that occur when huge firms tried to reinvent beloved franchises.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: There was a second in ABC’s “Little Mermaid Reside!” that hinted on the nice potential of this occasion, and it got here courtesy of Queen Latifah taking part in the villainous sea witch Ursula.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “THE LITTLE MERMAID LIVE!”)

QUEEN LATIFAH: (As Ursula, singing) They weren’t kidding after they referred to as me, nicely, a witch. However you will discover that these days I’ve mended all my methods, repented, seen the sunshine, and made a swap to this.

DEGGANS: Initially generally known as a rapper, Queen Latifah confirmed off spectacular vocal chops and a spellbinding stage presence within the widespread quantity “Poor Unlucky Souls,” a gleefully depraved flip that introduced the home down.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “THE LITTLE MERMAID LIVE!”)

LATIFAH: (As Ursula, singing) Flotsam, Jetsam, now I’ve obtained her, boys. The boss is on a roll. You poor, unlucky souls.

DEGGANS: However her success additionally highlighted how ABC’s “The Little Mermaid Reside!” was actually solely about half that as a result of the present blended reside musical numbers with numerous scenes from the 1989 animated movie, which delivered many of the dialogue and plot. The consequence was an expertise that usually felt like a journey at a Disney theme park – nice for younger followers, much less so for extra skilled eyes, even when star Auli’i Cravalho provided a note-perfect efficiency because the Little Mermaid herself, Ariel.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “THE LITTLE MERMAID LIVE!”)

AULI’I CRAVALHO: (As Ariel, singing) Up the place they stroll, up the place they run, up the place they keep all day within the solar wandering free. Want I may very well be a part of that world.

DEGGANS: The true-life performers tried exhausting. Former “Glee” co-star Amber Riley belted her approach by the opening quantity, “Daughters Of Triton,” a spectacle the place she was surrounded by mermaids suspended from the air and a stunning set.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “THE LITTLE MERMAID LIVE!”)

AMBER RILEY: (As self, singing) After which there may be the youngest in her musical debut. A seventh little sister, we’re presenting her to you to sing a tune Sebastian wrote. Her voice is sort of a bell. She’s our sister, Ariel.

DEGGANS: And John Stamos gamely waded by a slapstick efficiency as Chef Louis, revisiting a task he’d performed earlier than on stage.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “THE LITTLE MERMAID LIVE!”)

JOHN STAMOS: (As Chef Louis, singing) Les poissons, les poissons, how I like les poissons. Love to cut and to serve little fish.

DEGGANS: Although he did bungle an ad-lib on the finish of his huge quantity.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “THE LITTLE MERMAID LIVE!”)

STAMOS: I knew I ought to have performed Prince Albert.

DEGGANS: All people is aware of dreamy Prince Eric is the nice man right here. Anyway, the present’s excessive factors left me wanting extra reside efficiency. An excessive amount of time was soaked up by clips of the 30-year-old film. Fixed business breaks stuffed with promos for different Disney merchandise – the primary one took place 12 minutes in – was irritating. And the much less stated about Shaggy’s flip because the crab Sebastian, which left you questioning why ABC employed a man who cannot sing or dance to co-star in a musical, the higher.

Again within the day earlier than streaming and even VCRs, “The Fantastic World Of Disney” was a uncommon supply of top quality youngsters’s TV, a strategy to welcome a little bit of Disney magic into your property. So it makes every kind of sense that the Walt Disney Firm would attempt to revive this franchise for a brand new viewers. However “The Little Mermaid Reside!” largely proved that ABC’s subsequent musical ought to go all-in on the reside half, permitting gifted performers to ship a novel expertise that may’t be discovered on a VCR tape, streaming service or DVD. I am Eric Deggans.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “THE LITTLE MERMAID LIVE!”)

CRAVALHO: (As Ariel, singing) I do not know when, I do not understand how. However I do know one thing’s beginning proper now. Watch and you will see… Transcript supplied by NPR, Copyright NPR.



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