Jim Henson Made a ‘Little Mermaid’ Show and, Yep, It Was Weird

Fans of 2023’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, starring the inimitable Halle Bailey, might be surprised to learn that it’s actually not the first time Disney has adapted the 1989 animated classic.

It is, however, the first successful adaptation — their first attempt was much, much stranger.

In fact, it’s kind of fitting that the only visuals left over from Jim Henson’s bizarre live-action Little Mermaid pilot are nigh-unwatchable.

Grainy and banded, the footage makes it obvious why Little Mermaid‘s Island was never picked up by Disney.

Full of jarring puppetry (perhaps Sebastian the crab just wasn’t meant to be rendered in 3-D) strange original characters, and bad blue-screen effects, the effort was far from the kind of classic films Henson’s studio usually produced.

On YouTube, the digitized tape stutters and jumps, strangely nostalgic.

Like an urban legend, the fuzziness of the visuals recalls a hazy memory, perhaps something more like a dream.

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