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Courage the Cowardly Dog is an American animated horror comedy television series created by John R. Dilworth for Cartoon Network as part of the network's Cartoon Cartoons block. It follows a purple anthropomorphic beagle who lives with a married elderly couple in the middle of Nowhere. The trio are frequently thrown into bizarre misadventures, often involving the paranormal/supernatural. The series is known for its dark, surreal humor and atmosphere.

Dilworth pitched the series to Hanna-Barbera's animated shorts showcase What a Cartoon!, and a pilot (entitled "The Chicken from Outer Space") aired on Cartoon Network in early 1996. The segment was nominated for an Academy Award, but lost to Wallace and Gromit's A Close Shave. Cartoon Network greenlit a series from the short, which premiered on November 12, 1999 and ended on November 22, 2002, with four seasons of 13 episodes each produced. During its run, the series was nominated for 3 Golden Reel Awards and 1 Annie Award. Spin-off media include home video releases and collectible toys.

Premise

Courage the Cowardly Dog follows Courage, an easily frightened lavender dog. He was abandoned as a puppy after his parents were forcibly sent into outer space by a crazed vet. He lives in a house with a connected garage near the fictional town of Nowhere, Kansas with Muriel Bagge, a sweet-natured Scottish woman, and her American husband Eustace Bagge, a grouchy, selfish, greedy man who constantly harasses Courage. Courage was found in an alleyway by Muriel, who took him up as her own.

Courage, Muriel and Eustace frequently run into monsters, aliens, demons, mad scientists, zombies and other supernatural perils from myths and legends that Courage must fend off to save his owners, unbeknownst to them. Although most of the creatures that the three face are frightening or disturbing, some turn out to be sweet and simply in distress. The plot generally uses horror conventions, common to horror films. Ironically, given his name, Courage is a genuine coward, but still goes to great lengths to protect his owners.

Although episodic in nature, there are a handful of recurring characters in the show's cast, including Courage's sarcastic, sentient computer, the family physician Dr. Vindaloo, the fortune-telling Chihuahua Shirley the Medium, Eustace's mother "Ma", and recurring villains, Katz and Le Quack.

Production

Creation

Originally, Courage the Cowardly Dog was created as a seven-minute animated short, "The Chicken from Outer Space". Dilworth started the animated short with Hanna-Barbera, sponsored by Cartoon Network and introduced Courage. Dilworth graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1985. He became an art director and founded his own animation studio, Stretch Films in 1991, and incorporated in 1994.

The animated short was shown as one of the episodes of Cartoon Network's World Premiere Toons in 1996, a Hanna-Barbera Cartoons innovation by then-president Fred Seibert. The short served as a de facto pilot for the future series. The original animated short had no dialogue except for one line spoken by Courage, who had a more authoritative voice than in the series. It was uttered by voice actor Howard Hoffman who also provided all the other vocal sounds and effects for the short. An alien chicken was the villain in this short, who later reappears in the series to seek revenge. His sons also attempt to seek revenge too in a later episode. The short was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 68th Academy Awards.

Sound design

When deciding on sound effects, Dilworth tried to avoid pre-made stock sounds. He contributed a substantial amount of new material to sound designer Michael Geisler and only looked for sounds that made him laugh. The composition of the series' music relied on what was being portrayed: suspense, comedy, or action. The production crew worked together to come up with new music for the series that had not previously been used. There were a few sections on one particular piece that Dilworth exceptionally liked. The production crew was able to isolate these sections and expand them into a usable theme. Dilworth further complicated the crew's job by suggesting layering the theme with a variety of funny sounds, a strange tempo and a voice over of a crazed laugh or person singing to give the music and sound effects their own personality beyond anything else out there.

Original music featured in Courage the Cowardly Dog was composed by Jody Gray and Andy Ezrin. Classical music can be heard at times, which pays homage to classic Warner Bros. animation and the scores of Carl Stalling. In several episodes, Gray arranged various famous classical pieces and wrote up to 15 songs, such as Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries".

In 1999, Cartoon Network gave Dilworth permission to turn the short into an animated series. Hanna-Barbera was responsible for the What a Cartoon anthology and intended on developing the series. However, Dilworth insisted on taking the production to his Stretch Films Studios. The stories' plots were written by the show's head writer, David Steven Cohen, in addition to Irv Bauer, Craig Shemin, Lory Lazarus, Bill Marsilii, Allan Neuwirth, Bill Aronson and Michelle Dilworth.

Broadcast history

Courage the Cowardly Dog originally was premiered as a short on February 18, 1996. The show premiered on November 12, 1999 and became the highest-rated premiere in Cartoon Network history at the time. It last aired on November 22, 2002, with 52 episodes produced in four seasons. Reruns of the series currently air on Boomerang.

Episodes

Main article: Courage the Cowardly Dog episode list

In total, there were 52 episodes in four seasons produced, plus a pilot episode and a special episode. The series ran from November 12, 1999, to November 22, 2002.

Reception

John G. Nettles of PopMatters reviewed the show and called it, "a fascinating and textured mixture of cartoon and horror-movie conventions, and a joy to watch."

Alex Mastas of Lights Out Films reviewed the show gave it a grade "A-" and described it, "The backgrounds are rich and imaginative—they composite lot of the show over real photos and occasionally integrate CGI into cartoon. The look is weird and ethereal, just like the show itself."

KJ Dell Antonia of Common Sense Media gave three stars out of five with the summary, "Cult fave 'toon plays over-the-top violence for laughs." Antonia warned parents that the series contains graphic animated violence, including "exploding organs, growing extra limbs, turning inside out, you name it". Antonia said shows aimed at younger audiences "usually don't go for thrills and chills, so it's good to see a genuinely surreal and slanted series develop a decent following."

Jeff Swindoll of Monsters and Critics reviewed the first season DVD and felt a bit disappointed about its lack of the original Hanna-Barbera short "The Chicken from Outer Space." Swindoll felt that the lack of special features still should not deter fans from buying the season since the other episodes have appeared on other releases of the series.

Merchandise

Home media releases

Main article: Courage the Cowardly Dog videography

VHS editions of Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost and Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders each include an episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog as a bonus.

Courage the Cowardly Dog: Season One, a two-disc DVD set featuring all 13 episodes from the show's first season, was released in Australia (Region 4) on September 12, 2007, by Madman Entertainment. On January 13, 2010, the complete second season was also released.

A Region 1 release of the first season was done by Warner Home Video (via Warner Archive) on July 20, 2010. The release is the second in an official release of several Cartoon Cartoons on DVD, under the "Cartoon Network Hall of Fame" name. The second season was released on October 14, 2014 as the fourth in the "Hall of Fame" series. The third season was original supposed to be released on DVD in Region 1 on February 2, 2016, but it was delayed to (and was released on) March 22, 2016. It is the fifth title in the Cartoon Network Hall of Fame series. The fourth and final season was released on September 27, 2016.

In addition, all four seasons of the series are available for download on iTunes. The PlayStation 2 version of the video game Cartoon Network Racing contains the episodes "Robot Randy" and "The Magic Tree of Nowhere" as unlockable extras.

Select episodes from the series were also featured on several Cartoon Network compilation DVDs:

  • The Powerpuff Girls: Down 'n' Dirty - "Journey to the Center of Nowhere" - November 7, 2000
  • Scooby-Doo and the Toon Tour of Mysteries - "The Mask", "The Tower of Dr. Zalost" - June 2004
  • Cartoon Network Halloween Volume 2: Grossest Halloween Ever - "Courage Meets the Mummy / Night of the Weremole" - August 9, 2004
  • Cartoon Network Christmas Volume 2: Christmas Rocks - "The Snowman Cometh" - October 4, 2005

Toon Foolery: Laugh Your 'Ed Off! - "The McPhearson Phantom"

Video games

Though the series has no official video games, characters from Courage the Cowardly Dog appear in the Cartoon Network games Cartoon Network: Block Party, Cartoon Network Racing, Cartoon Network Speedway, and Cartoon Network Universe: FusionFall.

External Links


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CouragetheCowardlyDoglogo
Media
Courage the Cowardly DogWhat a Cartoon!: The Chicken from Outer SpaceVideoCartoon Network: Block PartyCartoon Network RacingCartoon Network SpeedwayCartoon Network Universe: FusionFallCartoon Cartoons
Characters
Main: Courage the Cowardly DogMuriel BaggeEustace Bagge

Supporting: ComputerDr. VindalooMa BaggeHorst BaggeMr. FrithGeneral and the LieutenantNowhere NewsmanCharlie the MouseShirley the Medium
Antagonists: The Chicken from Outer SpaceKatzLe QuackDi LungThe SnowmanBenton Tarentella and Erroll Van VolkheimThe Cajun FoxFreaky FredThe Clutching FootDr. GerbilDr. ŽalostThe Goose GodJeeves WeevilThe King of FlanKing RamsesThe MummyMad DogMecha CourageMr. NastyMustafa al BacteriusQueen of the Black PuddleThe Giant ApeMonkeyCruel VeterinarianEvil EmpressFusilliEvil EggplantsWeremoleBushwick • Windmill Vandals • Robot Randy • Elisa and Eliza StitchLisa del GiocondoThe Thinker • Conway • Chief Wicky Wicky • Perfectionist
Minor: Federal Agents • Space Dino • Courage's Parents • Kitty • Bunny • Icket Bagge • Duck Brothers • Quasimodo • The Star-Maker • The Magic Tree • Carmen the Serpent • Twin Raccoons • Duncan • Clyde the Fog Spirit

Episodes
Locations
Transportations
Objects
Computer
See also


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Cartoon Network Studios 5th logo
Animated television series
What a Cartoon! (1995–1997) • Dexter's Laboratory (1996-2003)
Animated television shorts
Theatrical films
The Powerpuff Girls Movie (2002)



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Cartoon Cartoons logo svg
Media

Cartoon Cartoons (Cartoon Cartoon Fridays/Cartoon Cartoon Fridays Big Pick Weekend/Cartoon Cartoon Weekend/Cartoon Cartoon Weekend Summerfest/Cartoon Cartoon Summer/The Cartoon Cartoon Show/Cartoon Cartoon Top 5/Cartoon Cartoon Primetime)

1990s

What a Cartoon! | Dexter's Laboratory | Cow and Chicken/I Am Weasel | The Powerpuff Girls | Ed, Edd n Eddy | Mike, Lu & Og | Courage the Cowardly Dog

2000s

Sheep in the Big City | Time Squad | Grim & Evil (The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy/Evil Con Carne) | Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones? | Codename: Kids Next Door


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Cartoon Network 2010 logo.svg
1990s
The Moxy ShowSpace Ghost Coast to CoastWhat a Cartoon!Dexter's LaboratoryBig BagJohnny BravoCow and ChickenI Am WeaselThe Powerpuff GirlsEd, Edd n EddyMike, Lu & OgCourage the Cowardly Dog
2000s
Sheep in the Big CityTime SquadSamurai JackGrim & EvilJustice LeagueWhatever Happened to... Robot Jones?Codename: Kids Next DoorThe Grim Adventures of Billy & MandyEvil Con CarneTeen TitansDuck DodgersFoster's Home for Imaginary FriendsMegas XLRStar Wars: Clone Wars (non-Time Warner) • Justice League UnlimitedBaby Looney TunesHi Hi Puffy AmiYumiKrypto the SuperdogThe Life and Times of Juniper LeeCamp LazloFirehouse TalesJohnny TestRobotboySunday PantsMy Gym Partner's a MonkeyBen 10Squirrel BoyClass of 3000Out of Jimmy's HeadChowderTransformers: Animated (non-Time Warner) • The Mr. Men ShowBen 10: Alien ForceThe Marvelous Misadventures of FlapjackStar Wars: The Clone Wars (non-Time Warner) • The Secret SaturdaysBatman: The Brave and the BoldThe OthersidersBrainRushDestroy Build DestroyBobb'e SaysDude, What Would Happen
2010s
Ben 10: Ultimate AlienScooby-Doo! Mystery IncorporatedGenerator RexMadSym-Bionic TitanTower PrepRobotomyYoung JusticeThe Problem SolverzRegular ShowThe Looney Tunes ShowThunderCatsSecret Mountain Fort AwesomeLevel UpGreen Lantern: The Animated SeriesThe High Fructose Adventures of Annoying OrangeDreamWorks DragonsBen 10: OmniverseIncredible CrewBeware the BatmanOver the Garden WallLong Live the RoyalsApple & Onion
Current
Adventure TimeThe Amazing World of GumballTeen Titans Go!Uncle GrandpaSteven UniverseMixelsThe Tom and Jerry ShowClarenceMighty MagiswordsWe Bare BearsWabbitBe Cool, Scooby-Doo!BunniculaThe Powerpuff GirlsMighty MagiswordsBen 10 (2016)OK K.O.! Let's Be HeroesCraig of the CreekSummer Camp Island
Upcoming
Victor and ValentinoClose EnoughInfinity Train
Films
Dexter's Laboratory: Ego TripThe Flintstones: On the RocksThe Powerpuff Girls MovieParty WagonFoster's Home for Imaginary Friends: House of Bloo'sCodename: Kids Next Door: Operation: Z.E.R.O.Class of 3000: HomeFoster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Good Wilt HuntingRe-AnimatedMy Gym Partner's a Monkey: The Big Field TripCamp Lazlo: Where's Lazlo?Billy & Mandy's Big Boogey AdventureBilly & Mandy: Wrath of the Spider QueenBen 10: Secret of the OmnitrixBen 10: Race Against TimeCodename: Kids Next Door: Operation: I.N.T.E.R.V.I.E.W.S.My Gym Partner's a Monkey: Animal School MusicalUnderfist: Halloween BashFoster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Destination ImaginationEd, Edd, n Eddy's Big Picture ShowBen 10: Alien SwarmFirebreatherLevel UpBen 10: Destroy All AliensRegular Show: The MovieUntitled Adventure Time film