Courage the Cowardly Dog

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Courage the Cowardly Dog
Courage the Cowardly Dog logo.svg
GenreComedy horror
Created byJohn R. Dilworth
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 (102 segments) (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)
DistributorWarner 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 and the eighth of the Cartoon Cartoons. It was produced by Dilworth's animation studio, Stretch Films. The title character is a pink, anthropomorphic dog who lives with an elderly couple in a farmhouse in the middle of "Nowhere". In each episode, the trio are thrown into bizarre, frequently disturbing and often paranormal or supernatural-type misadventures. 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 titled "The Chicken from Outer Space" aired on Cartoon Network on February 18, 1996.[1] The segment was nominated for an Academy Award, but lost to Wallace and Gromit's A Close Shave. The short was greenlit to become a series, which premiered on November 12, 1999, and ended on November 22, 2002, with four seasons each consisting of thirteen episodes. During its run, the series was nominated for three Golden Reel Awards and one Annie Award. Merchandise based on the series has also been produced, such as home media releases, toys, and clothing.

Premise[edit]

We interrupt this program to bring you "Courage the Cowardly Dog" show, starring Courage, the cowardly dog! Abandoned as a pup, he was found by Muriel, who lives in the middle of Nowhere with her husband, Eustace Bagge. But creepy stuff happens in Nowhere. It's up to Courage to save his new home!

— The Nowhere Newsman, in the opening title sequence

Courage the Cowardly Dog follows Courage (Marty Grabstein), a kind yet easily frightened pink dog. He was abandoned as a puppy after his parents were forcibly sent into outer space by a crazed veterinarian.[2] Soon after, he was found in an alleyway by Muriel Bagge (Thea White), a friendly, sweet-natured Scottish woman, who decided to take Courage in as her own, and was inspired by the nature of this first meeting to give him his name. In the present, he lives with the now elderly Muriel and her also elderly husband Eustace Bagge (Lionel Wilson episodes 1–33, Arthur Anderson episodes 34–52), a grumpy, selfish and greedy farmer who regularly mistreats Courage out of jealousy and refers to him as "stupid dog". The entire family lives in a small, isolated farmhouse in what consists of a large, desert-like area in the middle of Kansas: the nearest town to the farmhouse is a fictional town with the literal name of Nowhere.

Courage and his owners frequently encounter monsters, aliens, demons, mad scientists, zombies, vampires, and other such perils involving the paranormal or supernatural. The plot generally uses conventions common to horror films. Although most of the creatures that the three face are hostile, some only appear that way, but are simply suffering from distress and/or acting in desperation, and can even turn out to be friendly to them.

The task of protecting 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 may be considered a genuine hero who often goes to great lengths to protect his owners, and a genuine coward who still expresses his distress with over-the-top, piercing shrieks.

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 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.

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.

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
PilotFebruary 18, 1996 (1996-02-18)[1]
113November 12, 1999 (1999-11-12)March 31, 2000 (2000-03-31)
213October 31, 2000 (2000-10-31)November 16, 2001 (2001-11-16)
313January 11, 2002 (2002-01-11)August 9, 2002 (2002-08-09)
413September 6, 2002 (2002-09-06)November 22, 2002 (2002-11-22)
SpecialOctober 31, 2014 (2014-10-31)

Reception[edit]

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."[12]

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."[13]

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."[14] Antonia warned parents that the series contains graphic animated violence, including "exploding organs, growing extra limbs, turning inside out, you name it".[14] Randy Miller III of DVD Talk said that 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."[15]

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".[16] 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.[16]

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[17][18] Won
Golden Reel Awards
2000 For episode "The Duck Brothers" Best Sound Editing — Television Animated Series — Sound[18] Nominated
2001 For episode "Courage in the Big Stinkin' City" Best Sound Editing — Television Animated Series — Sound[18] Won
2003 For episode "The Tower of Dr. Zalost" Best Sound Editing — Television Animated Series — Sound[18] Nominated

Merchandise[edit]

Home media[edit]

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.[19][20] On January 13, 2010, the complete second season was also released.[19][21]

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.[22] The second season was released on October 14, 2014 as the fourth in the "Hall of Fame" series.[23] The third season was originally supposed to be released on DVD in Region 1 on February 2, 2016,[24] but it was delayed to (and was released on) March 22, 2016.[25] It is the fifth title in the Cartoon Network Hall of Fame series. The fourth and final season was released on September 27, 2016. Courage is one of the few Cartoon Network shows to be available in its entirety on DVD.

In addition, all four seasons of the series are available for download on iTunes.[26][27][28][29] 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.

Courage the Cowardly Dog home video releases
Season Episodes Release dates
 United States  Australia
1 1999–2000 13 The Powerpuff Girls: Dream Scheme (VHS): November 7, 2000
Episode(s): "Journey to the Center of Nowhere"
Cartoon Network Halloween: 9 Creepy Cartoon Capers: August 10, 2004
Episode(s): "The Demon in the Mattress"
Cartoon Network Halloween 2: Grossest Halloween Ever: August 9, 2005
Episode(s): "Night of the Weremole"
The Complete First Season: July 20, 2010
4 Kid Favorites: The Hall of Fame Collection: March 13, 2012
Episode(s): "A Night at the Katz Motel" – "The Gods Must Be Goosey"
4 Kid Favorites: The Hall of Fame Collection Vol. 2: March 12, 2013
Episode(s): "Queen of the Black Puddle" – "The Great Fusilli"
The Complete Series: October 2, 2018
Episode(s): Entire season featured
September 12, 2007[19][20]
2 2000–01 Cartoon Network Halloween 2: Grossest Halloween Ever: August 9, 2005
Episode(s): "Courage Meets the Mummy"
The Complete Second Season: October 14, 2014[23]
The Complete Series: October 2, 2018
Episode(s): Entire season featured
January 13, 2010[19][21]
3 2002 The Complete Third Season: March 22, 2016[30]
The Complete Series: October 2, 2018
Episode(s): Entire season featured
N/A
4 Cartoon Network Christmas: Yuletide Follies: October 5, 2004
Episode(s): "The Nutcracker"
The Complete Fourth Season: September 27, 2016[31]
The Complete Series: October 2, 2018
Episode(s): Entire season featured
N/A

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.

Possible revivals[edit]

In February 2012, BuzzFeed reported that a CGI special of Courage the Cowardly Dog was in development.[32] The special, titled "The Fog of Courage", aired in 2014.

BuzzFeed also reported that there was a chance of bringing back Courage the Cowardly Dog in a CGI format.[32]

In October 2018, Dilworth commented on a Facebook post that he was in negotiations with Boomerang for a prequel to the series under the working title Before Courage.[33] However, in May 2020, when asked about the project Dilworth responded that it had been "transformed into another thing".[34]

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. Archived from the original on 15 October 2013. 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. Archived from the original on 7 May 2011. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
  4. ^ Strike, Joe (July 15, 2003). "The Fred Seibert Interview — Part 1". Animation World Network. Archived from the original on August 6, 2010. 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. Archived from the original on 2008-12-19. Retrieved 2011-05-24.
  7. ^ Chan, Darlene (November 14, 2002). "Creating Successful Music For Animation". Animation World Network. Archived from the original on 3 August 2011. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  8. ^ Sporn, Michael (August 9, 2008). "Splog » Dil & Dali". Michael Sporn Animation. Archived from the original on 19 March 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  9. ^ a b Guerin, Ada (April 23, 2002). "Courage the Cowardly Dog — Cartoon Network". Jodygray.com. Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. 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. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
  11. ^ "Courage the Cowardly Dog Best Series Premiere in Cartoon Network History". Time Warner. November 16, 1999. Archived from the original on April 27, 2012. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
  12. ^ Nettles, John G. (2001). "Courage the Cowardly Dog review". PopMatters. Archived from the original on October 23, 2017. Retrieved October 22, 2017.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ a b Antonia, KJ Dell (2008-12-02). "Courage the Cowardly Dog — Television Review". Common Sense Media. Archived from the original on 14 December 2010. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
  15. ^ Miller III, Randy (July 21, 2010). "Courage the Cowardly Dog: Season One : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". DVDTalk.com. Archived from the original on September 23, 2010. Retrieved June 11, 2011.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ "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.
  18. ^ a b c d "Awards for "Courage the Cowardly Dog" (1999)". Internet Movie Database. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
  19. ^ a b c d "Courage the Cowardly Dog". Madman.com.au. Madman Entertainment (Australia). Archived from the original on October 2, 2013. Retrieved June 6, 2011.
  20. ^ a b "Courage the Cowardly Dog Season 1". Madman.com.au. Madman Entertainment (Australia). Archived from the original on October 5, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2011.
  21. ^ a b "Courage the Cowardly Dog Season 2". Madman.com.au. Madman Entertainment (Australia). Archived from the original on October 5, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2011.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ a b Wolfe, Jennifer (July 23, 2014). "Cartoon Network to Release Season 2 of 'Courage the Cowardly Dog'". AWN.com. Archived from the original on July 28, 2014. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  24. ^ "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.
  25. ^ "Courage the Cowardly Dog DVD news: Update about Season 3 - TVShowsOnDVD.com". www.tvshowsondvd.com. Archived from the original on 2016-01-10.
  26. ^ "Courage the Cowardly Dog, Season 1". iTunes.Apple.com. Apple. Archived from the original on April 16, 2014. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
  27. ^ "Courage the Cowardly Dog, Season 2". iTunes.Apple.com. Apple. Archived from the original on April 16, 2014. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
  28. ^ "Courage the Cowardly Dog, Season 3". iTunes.Apple.com. Apple. Archived from the original on April 16, 2014. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
  29. ^ "Courage the Cowardly Dog, Season 4". iTunes.Apple.com. Apple. Archived from the original on October 13, 2013. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
  30. ^ "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.
  31. ^ "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.
  32. ^ a b "Courage The Cowardly Dog Is Returning To TV". Archived from the original on 2016-01-16. Retrieved 2016-11-06.
  33. ^ Bishop, Rollin (23 October 2018). "'Courage the Cowardly Dog' Prequel Series Allegedly in the Works". ComicBook.com. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  34. ^ https://twitter.com/DillyDilworth/status/1262555288286232576

External links[edit]