The Little Mermaid, The Series: Scuttle

Wha’ Happen’?

Oh Disney’s The Little Mermaid The Series, how could I ever have doubted ye? After the snore-fest of Metal Fish I was resigned to this retrospective ending in a disappointing (if thematically appropriate) damp squib. Oh Mouse of little faith. Strap in folks, we’re riding this train all the way to crazy town.

So by this point I think it’s clear that the waters around Denmark are a fucking warzone because, yet again, we open on two ships blasting each other to kindling. A gang of pirates board a merchant ship, force the crew to walk the plank and steal every thing remotely shiny. During the fray, a gold goblet falls into the water and floats away.

Which is why gold is known as “the floaty metal”.

Ariel sees it glinting overhead and swims up to claim it but unfortunately for her, someone else has set his eyes on it:

That’s right, this episode shows us the first meeting between Ariel and Scuttle, everyone’s favourite solid C-tier Disney comic relief character. While flying overhead, Scuttle sees the goblet and flies down to pick it up, calling it a “Dorfburple”. Meanwhile, Ariel is swimming up to get it, calling it a “Shimmermajigger” (this girl and her jiggers, I tell ya what). This leads to a hilarious scene which cuts rapidly between the two of them with Scuttle saying “Dorfburple!” and Ariel saying “Shimmermajigger!” back and forth and back and forth. It’s especially funny when you realise that, without the editing, Ariel must just be swimming through the sea yelling “Shimmermajigger! Shimmermajigger!” while Sebastien and Flounder exchange very sad looks.

I tease, but this episode may have my favourite depiction of Ariel in this series so far in that for once she’s not just a bland smiling friend to every living ickle sea creature there is. In fact, this episode goes in a direction I did not expect at all for Ariel and Scuttle’s first meeting, but in retrospect is perfectly logical: they can’t fucking stand each other. In Ariel’s eyes, Scuttle is the only thing standing between her and the title of Ocean’s Weirdest Hoarder of Human Shit and that means the big chicken’s goin’ down.

“Get me my shivamajigger boys. And my castratamawhatsit.”

Turns out that Ariel’s actually afraid of birds, but she follows Scuttle to a lagoon and he tells her that the goblet is actually a gift that humans give to their very favourite birds and starts bragging about all the humans he’s met (pfff, bet he’s never met HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN, though, has he?)

You’ve probably been reading this and thinking “Mouse, are you sure this is an episode of The Little Mermaid? Sebastien doesn’t seem to be suffering at all” and you are correct. Right on cue, an eagle swoops down and carries a screaming Sebastien away. Scuttle, anxious that this is giving birds a bad name, follows after along with Ariel and Flounder. Sebastien pinches the eagle and gets dropped on the pirate ship we saw before.

So this is the premise of the episode (for a show that’s so light on plot, Mermaid episodes take a loooong time to get going). Ariel, Scuttle and Flounder have to put aside their differences and work together to rescue Sebastien from the pirate ship, all the while Sebastien suffers like a perjurer in the eighth circle of hell. In between getting menaced by literally hundreds of demonic, red-eyed rats, he has to face yet another evil bird, the Captain’s parrot, Salty. Which is, let’s be fair, a very, very good name.

Another thing I find hilarious is that Salty keeps trying to tell the pirates that Sebastien’s on board the ship and their reaction is: “We don’t care. So there’s a crab on the ship. Fuck off, Salty.”

This script is around 90% more self aware than is typical for this show and it makes all the difference. Anyway, the episode reaches its glorious, sublime climax when the gang manage to rescue Sebastien who tells them that the pirates are planning on attacking a nearby ship and taking one of the passengers hostage. And then Ariel gets Scuttle to bring her an axe which she uses TO SINK THE PIRATE SHIP.

That’s right. Ariel is now second place behind Mulan in the Rankings of Disney Princesses Who Have Definitely Committed Mass Murder.

Nothing was ever proven.

And as she swims away, leaving the pirates clinging to their sinking hulk as the sharks close in, we see the passenger whose life she saved:

Awww, and they even managed to keep him on-model. Good for them

How was it?

The script for this one was notably better and even got a chuckle out of me in places. Also, did I mention ARIEL TAKES OUT A FRICKIN’ PIRATE SHIP SINGLE HANDED?

So how was it? Better than Princess Frickin’ Mononoke, that’s how it was.

The moral of the story is: You think that certain groups are evil, and you’re right. Just keep in mind that every so often one solitary member of that group might be kinda okay.

Does this violate continuity?:

A minor one; Eric catches a glimpse of Ariel and seems to know what a mermaid is whereas in the movie he had to have the concept of merpeople explained to him.

The original film also does not imply that Ariel has taken out an entire pirate galley and left its crew to be eaten alive by sharks but, frankly, that’s the movie’s fault.

And so Shortstember 2021 actually concludes on time. I know, I’m scared too.

NEXT UPDATE: 14th October 2021

NEXT TIME:

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16 comments

  1. Once again the Mouse has been spared to smile another day by the magic of Cartoon Hijinks – let’s be honest, much as I love some cartoon drama shameless comedy is what animation was INVENTED for.

    So Mouse, besides the Magic of Tim Curry and Ariel being canonically the single-handed executioner of a whole shipload of pirates, is there anything from the series you would have liked to see pop up elsewhere in multimedia?

  2. Most of the evidence against Aurora was circumstantial.

    Sure, people SAY that the Prince Philip she was seen in public with some hours after their alleged altercation bore a startling resemblance to an owl and two rabbits wearing a cloak and boots, and that Samson the horse has received a mysterious payment of 10,000 carrots a year to his Swiss account ever since.

    But the only other witness to the event was a noted alcoholic, and him drowning in his own lute shortly before trial was ruled accidental.

      1. Maybe Phillip actually decapitated himself after being seen in ‘Maleficent’. I know it is what I would do.

  3. Wonderful review as always! Glad your faith has been restored. For now anyway.

    This ep is another one of my other faves for pretty much all the reasons you state. Also who doesn’t like a good “And here’s how the gang got together” backstory? And yes, baby boy is on model and subtly aged down. Kudos to the animators!

    Season 3 in general has a lot of “We pretty much know we’re getting cancelled so TIME TO MAKE IT WEIRD!” energy. Which I can respect.

    And apparently, much like even numbered Star Trek films, if a TLM episode features either Tim Curry or a character from the movie who is not a series regular (Eric, Scuttle, Ursula), you’re in for a treat. (Evil Manta/In Harmony may be a mild exception but you have Tim Curry voicing an evil manta ray with fabulous abs. So one can’t really complain too much.)

    A couple of points of order, however (I say, tongue firmly implanted in cheek):

    Eric’s kingdom ain’t Denmark. It is a Mediterranean kingdom of indeterminate name because the writers and animators thought a warm Mediterranean vibe would be appealing for a girl who’d spent her whole life in the ocean. It’s discussed on the audio commentary (which I rec in general cause it’s very good with Ron & Jon, and Alan Menken. They even add in bits of Ashman from interviews etc. when the appropriate moments come up.)

    I have no idea why Eric has a Germanic name. Maybe family name from the parent who married into the kingdom?

    An official Disney Princess Youtube video for small children (listen, I take my lore where I can get it) named Italy specifically and the live action movie did some filming in Sardinia.

    The young adult AU novel “Part of Your World” names the kingdom Tirulia and leans HARD into the Mediterranean vaguely Italian thing too. (The actual quality of the book is mixed and it does some lore and character things I dislike, but the characterization of Eric in particular is pretty good, which is not a sure thing, so I can’t be too mad. (See TLM 2, Broadway, and Once Upon A Time versions to understand my pain-through no fault of the actors, I might add.)

    Point B:

    I say Eric’s statement is not a continuity violation, however minor, my good Mouse. No, indeed.

    Firstly he only sees Ariel from a distance and Grimsby clearly thinks he’s just seeing things, which is certainly something Eric could take to heart and thus rationalize away the brief encounter.

    Secondly the movie itself established that sailors are well-aware of merpeople while non-sailors seem to dismiss their existence as ‘nautical nonsense.’ Eric actually never states his own belief/disbelief prior to getting first-hand proof they do exist, just that he doesn’t know who King Triton is specifically.

    I personally think he doesn’t particularly believe they exist prior to the events of the film, but even if he did, dude is smart enough to keep his mouth shut once he realizes it might be seen as weird/crazy. Sailors can believe in mystical creatures and legends without it being a big deal. Princes…probably not so much.

    Since Disney owns Marvel now do I get a “No Prize”? 😉

    1. And just realized this was the last of the TLM reviews for now! I’ve loved each and every one, even where our opinions differ! And have already gone back to reread a few of my faves when it’s slow at work (Shhh..don’t tell on me.)

      So thanks so much for being a good sport and going through episodes of…shall we say…varying quality with your usual good humor and insight. I enjoy reading your perspective on just about any media, good or bad, and Little Mermaid-related stuff is near and dear to my heart so it was especially fun to watch you go through some of the lesser tie-ins. ❤

    2. I was thinking it wasn’t a continuity error because in the movie Eric doesn’t know who King Triton is but he never says he doesn’t know what merfolk are. And he never actually says whether he believes in them or not. The sailor explaining King Triton just kinda goes off and gets into a short argument with Grimsby about merfolk.

  4. Hope you enjoyed the ride, Mouse. If you thought some of the previous episodes were insane, though, you should watch the episode “Island of Fear”. Two words: “CRAAAAAAB EXPERIMENTS”.

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