Courage the Cowardly Dog

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Courage the Cowardly Dog
Courage the Cowardly Dog intertitle.jpg
GenreComedy horror
Science fantasy
Black comedy
Created byJohn R. Dilworth
Written by
Directed byJohn R. Dilworth
Voices of
Opening theme"Courage the Cowardly Dog"
Ending theme"Courage the Cowardly Dog" (Instrumental)
Composer(s)Jody Gray
Andy Ezrin
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes52 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)John R. Dilworth
Producer(s)
  • Robert Winthrop (season 1)
  • Winnie Chaffee (seasons 2–4)
Running time22 minutes
Production company(s)
DistributorCartoon Network
Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Release
Original networkCartoon Network
Picture formatNTSC (480i)
HDTV 1080p (special)
Audio formatStereo
Original releaseNovember 12, 1999 (1999-11-12) – November 22, 2002 (2002-11-22)
Chronology
Related showsWhat a Cartoon!

Courage the Cowardly Dog is an American animated horror comedy television series created by John R. Dilworth for Cartoon Network's Cartoon Cartoons block. The title character is a pink, anthropomorphic dog who lives with an elderly couple in the middle of Nowhere. The trio are frequently thrown into bizarre misadventures, often involving the paranormal or supernatural. The series is known for its dark, surreal humor and atmosphere. It is produced by Dilworth's own animation studio, Stretch Films, in association with Cartoon Network Studios.

Dilworth pitched the series to Hanna-Barbera's animated shorts showcase What a Cartoon! and a pilot titled "The Chicken from Outer Space" aired on Cartoon Network in February 18, 1996.[1] 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. The series received critical acclaim and has developed a strong cult following. Merchandise based on the series has also been produced, such as home media releases, toys, and clothing.

Premise[edit]

Courage the Cowardly Dog follows Courage (Marty Grabstein), a pink and easily frightened dog. He was abandoned while a puppy after his parents were forcibly sent into outer space by a crazed veterinarian.[2] He lives in a house with a connected garage near the fictional town of Nowhere, Kansas with Muriel Bagge (Thea White), a friendly, sweet-natured Scottish woman, and her husband Eustace Bagge (Lionel Wilson episodes 1–33, Arthur Anderson episodes 34–52), a grumpy, greedy farmer who regularly mistreats Courage out of jealousy and refers to him as "stupid dog." Muriel found Courage in an alleyway and took him in as her own.

Courage, Muriel, and Eustace frequently encounter monsters, aliens, demons, mad scientists, zombies and other such perils from myths and legends. The plot generally uses conventions common to horror films. Although most of the creatures that the three face are hostile, some turn out to be friendly and are simply suffering from distress and acting in desperation.

The task of protecting his elderly owners Muriel and Eustace from such dangers falls on Courage, who endeavors to thwart or reconcile with the monster of the week and remedy or repair any damages done. Although Courage is occasionally aided with that task, the full extent of his efforts is usually performed unbeknownst to Muriel and Eustace. 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 (Simon Prebble); the family physician Dr. Vindaloo (Paul Schoeffler); a fortune-telling chihuahua named Shirley the Medium (Mary Testa); Eustace's mother "Ma" (Billie Lou Watt); and villains Katz and Le Quack (both voiced by Schoeffler).

Production[edit]

Creation[edit]

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.[3] 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.[3]

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.[4] 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.[3] 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.[5] The short was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 68th Academy Awards.[6]

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.

Sound design[edit]

When deciding on sound effects, Dilworth tried to avoid pre-made stock sounds.[3] 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.[3] The production crew was able to isolate these sections and expand them into a usable theme.[3] 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.[3]

Original music featured in Courage the Cowardly Dog was composed by Jody Gray[7] and Andy Ezrin.[8][9] Classical music can be heard at times, which pays homage to classic Warner Bros. animation and the scores of Carl Stalling.[10] In several episodes, Gray arranged various famous classical pieces, such as Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries", and wrote up to 15 songs.[9]

Broadcast history[edit]

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.[11] It last aired on November 22, 2002, with 52 episodes produced in four seasons. The series is available for streaming on Boomerang's website. Reruns have aired on Boomerang.

Episodes[edit]

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.

Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
Pilot February 18, 1996 (1996-02-18)[1]
1 13 November 12, 1999 (1999-11-12)[12] March 30, 2000 (2000-03-30)[12]
2 13 October 31, 2000 (2000-10-31)[13] November 16, 2001 (2001-11-16)[13]
3 13 January 12, 2002 (2002-01-12)[14] August 9, 2002 (2002-08-09)[14]
4 13 September 6, 2002 (2002-09-06)[15] November 22, 2002 (2002-11-22)[15]
Special October 31, 2014 (2014-10-31)

Reception[edit]

Courage the Cowardly Dog received critical acclaim and became one of Cartoon Network's top-rated and most popular series. New episodes often aired on the weekly program block, Cartoon Cartoon Fridays. 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."[16]

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 a lot of the show over real photos and occasionally integrate CGI into the cartoon. The look is weird and ethereal, just like the show itself."[17]

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."[18] Antonia warned parents that the series contains graphic animated violence, including "exploding organs, growing extra limbs, turning inside out, you name it".[18] 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."[19]

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."[20] 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.[20]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Nominee/work Award Result
Academy Awards
1995 John R. Dilworth
For short film "The Chicken From Outer Space"
Best Animated Short Film Nominated
Annie Awards
2000 John R. Dilworth
For episode "A Night at the Katz Motel"
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Production Design in an Animated Television Production[21][22] Won
Golden Reel Awards
2000 For episode "The Duck Brothers" Best Sound Editing — Television Animated Series — Sound[22] Nominated
2001 For episode "Courage in the Big Stinkin' City" Best Sound Editing — Television Animated Series — Sound[22] Won
2003 For episode "The Tower of Dr. Zalost" Best Sound Editing — Television Animated Series — Sound[22] Nominated

Merchandise[edit]

Home media releases[edit]

VHS editions of Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost and Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders each includes 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.[23][24] On January 13, 2010, the complete second season was also released.[23][25]

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.[26] The second season was released on October 14, 2014 as the fourth in the "Hall of Fame" series.[27] The third season was originally supposed to be released on DVD in Region 1 on February 2, 2016,[28] but it was delayed to (and was released on) March 22, 2016.[29] 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.[30][31][32][33] 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.

Title Season(s) Episode count Release date Episodes
Region 1 Region 4
The Powerpuff Girls: Dream Scheme (VHS) 1 1 November 7, 2000 N/A 12b ("Journey to the Center of Nowhere")
Cartoon Network Halloween: 9 Creepy Cartoon Capers August 10, 2004 N/A 4a ("The Demon in the Mattress")
Cartoon Network Christmas: Yuletide Follies 4 October 5, 2004 N/A 40b ("The Nutcracker")
Cartoon Network Halloween 2: Grossest Halloween Ever 1, 2 2 August 9, 2005 N/A 5a ("Night of the Weremole") and 17a ("Courage Meets the Mummy")
Cartoon Network: Christmas Rocks 1 1 October 4, 2005 N/A 10a ("The Snowman Cometh")
The Complete First Season 13 July 20, 2010[26] September 12, 2007[23][24] 1 ("A Night at the Katz Motel" / "Cajun Granny Stew") – 13 ("Little Muriel" / "The Great Fusilli")
4 Kid Favorites: The Hall of Fame Collection 8 March 13, 2012 N/A 1 ("A Night at the Katz Motel" / "Cajun Granny Stew") – 8 ("The Hunchback of Nowhere" / "The Gods Must Be Goosey")
4 Kid Favorites: The Hall of Fame Collection Vol. 2 5 March 12, 2013 N/A 9 ("Queen of the Black Puddle" / "Everyone Wants to Direct") – 13 ("Little Muriel" / "The Great Fusilli")
The Complete Second Season 2 13 October 14, 2014[27] January 13, 2010[23][25] 14 ("The Magic Tree of Nowhere" / "Robot Randy") – 26 ("The Tower of Dr. Zalost")

Extra: Pilot ("The Chicken from Outer Space")

The Complete Third Season 3 March 22, 2016[34] N/A 27 ("Muriel Meets Her Match" / "Courage vs. Mecha-Courage") – 39 ("King of Flan" / "Courage Under the Volcano")
The Complete Fourth Season 4 September 27, 2016[35] N/A 40 ("A Beaver's Tale" / "The Nutcracker") – 52 ("Remembrance of Courage Past" / "Perfect")
The Complete Series 1–4 52 October 2, 2018 N/A 1 ("A Night at the Katz Motel" / "Cajun Granny Stew") – 52 ("Remembrance of Courage Past" / "Perfect")

Video games[edit]

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.

Planned CGI revival[edit]

In February 2012, BuzzFeed reported that a CGI special of Courage the Cowardly Dog was in development.[36] The special, entitled "The Fog of Courage", was finally aired in 2014. However, BuzzFeed also stated that there are strong chances of bringing back Courage the Cowardly Dog in a CGI format.[36] A Facebook campaign was launched in July 2016 to convince Cartoon Network to greenlight a fifth season of Courage.[37] Also, it was said that voice actor Brian Doyle-Murray was assigned to voice Eustace Bagge in a potential CGI reboot of the series due to the death of Arthur Anderson in April 2016.[38] However, no other information has been said since.

Before Courage[edit]

In October 2018, Dilworth commented on a Facebook post that he is in negotiations with Boomerang for a prequel to the series. Later that month, Dilworth announced on Facebook that development on a "potential prequel" to Courage entitled Before Courage for Boomerang was expected to begin.[39]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Mendoza, N.F. (February 18, 1996). "SHOWS FOR YOUNGSTERS AND THEIR PARENTS TOO : Cartoon Network stars a hen from outer space; 'Human Animal' explores our needs on TLC". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
  2. ^ "Remembrance of Courage Past". Courage the Cowardly Dog. Season 4. Episode 13a. 2002-11-22. Cartoon Network.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Miller, Bob (November 1, 1999). "The Triumphant Independent — an interview with John R. Dilworth". Animation World Network. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
  4. ^ Strike, Joe (July 15, 2003). "The Fred Seibert Interview — Part 1". Animation World Network. Retrieved April 13, 2011.
  5. ^ "The Revenge of the Chicken from Outer Space". Courage the Cowardly Dog. Season 1. Episode 12. 2000-06-09. Cartoon Network.
  6. ^ "Academy Awards, USA (1996), Best Short Film, Animated". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2011-05-24.
  7. ^ Chan, Darlene (November 14, 2002). "Creating Successful Music For Animation". Animation World Network. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  8. ^ Sporn, Michael (August 9, 2008). "Splog » Dil & Dali". Michael Sporn Animation. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  9. ^ a b Guerin, Ada (April 23, 2002). "Courage the Cowardly Dog — Cartoon Network". Jodygray.com. Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
  10. ^ Crisafull, Chuck (August 20, 2002). "Children's programming is pacing the field of TV music". Jodygray.com. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  11. ^ "Courage the Cowardly Dog Best Series Premiere in Cartoon Network History". Time Warner. November 16, 1999. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
  12. ^ a b "Courage the Cowardly Dog: Episode Guide (season 1)". Zap2It. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  13. ^ a b "Courage the Cowardly Dog: Episode Guide (season 2)". Zap2It. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  14. ^ a b "Courage the Cowardly Dog: Episode Guide (season 3)". Zap2It. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  15. ^ a b "Courage the Cowardly Dog: Episode Guide (season 4)". Zap2It. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  16. ^ Nettles, John G. (2001). "Courage the Cowardly Dog review". PopMatters. Retrieved October 22, 2017.
  17. ^ Mastas, Alex (March 4, 2003). "TV Review: Courage the Cowardly Dog (2003)". Lights Out Films. Archived from the original on 2003-05-12. Retrieved 2011-07-14.
  18. ^ a b Antonia, KJ Dell. "Courage the Cowardly Dog — Television Review". Common Sense Media. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
  19. ^ Miller III, Randy (July 21, 2010). "Courage the Cowardly Dog: Season One : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". DVDTalk.com. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
  20. ^ a b Swindoll, Jeff (July 21, 2010). "Courage the Cowardly Dog: Season 1 - DVD review". Monsters and Critics. Archived from the original on December 20, 2013. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
  21. ^ "28th Annual Annie Awards — Category # 15 - Outstanding Individual Achievement for Design In an Animated Television Production". Annie Awards. Archived from the original on 24 April 2008. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
  22. ^ a b c d "Awards for "Courage the Cowardly Dog" (1999)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  23. ^ a b c d "Courage the Cowardly Dog". Madman.com.au. Madman Entertainment (Australia). Retrieved June 6, 2011.
  24. ^ a b "Courage the Cowardly Dog Season 1". Madman.com.au. Madman Entertainment (Australia). Retrieved June 6, 2011.
  25. ^ a b "Courage the Cowardly Dog Season 2". Madman.com.au. Madman Entertainment (Australia). Retrieved June 6, 2011.
  26. ^ a b Lacey, Gord (June 29, 2010). "Cartoon Network Hall of Fame: Season 1 Press Release". TVShowsonDVD.com. Archived from the original on July 2, 2010. Retrieved July 8, 2010.
  27. ^ a b Wolfe, Jennifer (July 23, 2014). "Cartoon Network to Release Season 2 of 'Courage the Cowardly Dog'". AWN.com. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  28. ^ "Courage the Cowardly Dog DVD news: Release Date for Courage the Cowardly Dog - Season 3 - TVShowsOnDVD.com". www.tvshowsondvd.com. Archived from the original on 2016-01-01.
  29. ^ "Courage the Cowardly Dog DVD news: Update about Season 3 - TVShowsOnDVD.com". www.tvshowsondvd.com. Archived from the original on 2016-01-10.
  30. ^ "Courage the Cowardly Dog, Season 1". iTunes.Apple.com. Apple. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
  31. ^ "Courage the Cowardly Dog, Season 2". iTunes.Apple.com. Apple. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
  32. ^ "Courage the Cowardly Dog, Season 3". iTunes.Apple.com. Apple. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
  33. ^ "Courage the Cowardly Dog, Season 4". iTunes.Apple.com. Apple. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
  34. ^ "Courage the Cowardly Dog DVD news: Release Date for Courage the Cowardly Dog — Season 3 | TVShowsOnDVD.com". www.tvshowsondvd.com. Archived from the original on 2016-01-01. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
  35. ^ "Courage the Cowardly Dog DVD news: Release Date for Courage the Cowardly Dog — Season 4 | TVShowsOnDVD.com". Archived from the original on 2016-09-21.
  36. ^ a b "Courage The Cowardly Dog Is Returning To TV".
  37. ^ "Courage the Cowardly Dog Revival Campaign". www.facebook.com.
  38. ^ http://entertainment.inquirer.net/193707/voice-of-eustace-in-courage-the-cowardly-dog-is-dead
  39. ^ https://www.facebook.com/john.dilworth.90/posts/2449504088399779

External links[edit]