Courage the Cowardly Dog

From Academic Kids

Courage the Cowardly Dog is an animated series about a fuschia dog named Courage and his owners Muriel, a kindly old woman, and Eustace, a mean and nasty old farmer, living in a house in the town of "Nowhere". It was created by John R. Dilworth, who directed each episode, and is produced and aired by Cartoon Network.

Like other series such as Dexter's Laboratory, Johnny Bravo and The Powerpuff Girls, the show started on the What a Cartoon Show (later renamed to The Cartoon Cartoon Show), with an episode, "The Chicken from Outer Space", where an alien chicken from outer space landed on the farm, intending to transform Eustace and Muriel into alien chickens by making them eat its alien eggs. This episode was sequeled, later on, by "Revenge of the Chicken from Outer Space" and "Son of the Chicken from Outer Space".

The show usually consists of an ordinary situation, but weird things happen, such as the appearance of supernatural evil forces, alien landings and zombies being resurrected in the basement. These usually threaten the life of Muriel, and Courage (after a typical initial fit of terror) in true doggy fashion confronts his fear to save the day. Usually Eustace suffers some nasty fate each episode.

Although the show is intended as a comedy, the creator John R. Dilworth regularly includes underlying themes of horror in the various storylines, with some surprisingly adult-oriented themes. One episode, "The King of Flan", involves an evil commercial producer who uses hypnotic control to turn the entire area of "Nowhere" into obsessed addicts, who behave in a manner similar to people suffering from drug addiction. These horror themes are subtle enough to still allow the show to be considered suitable for viewing by younger children.

Courage routinely consults his computer, that contains a mind of its own, for advice. In one episode the computer becomes tired of its current existence and hijacks the body of Muriel in order to pursue a high thrills lifestyle. The personality of the computer and the way it conveys information is very similar to that of the namesake guidebook from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Courage intermittently has and has not the ability to talk (including to the fourth wall), and he often morphs into different things or creatures in front of his owners to try to explain what has befallen. In many episodes, he gets clobbered and smashed much more often and more graphically than any other cartoon lead has, having lost his eyes, flesh, tongue, skeleton, ears, and muscle integrity, but he is just as resilient, showing up anew in the next scene or wearing first-aid gear. He can carry many times his weight, and often does as he takes Eustace and/or Muriel away from harm. His best talent is screaming, which is done often also. Once he screamed as loud as he could to cause an earthquake to swallow possessed Eustace and his minions to free Muriel from being boiled in a cauldron.

There is a recurring villain, LeQuack, a French-accented duck/bank robber. His role can be compared to Mandark in Dexter's Laboratory. Other notable and repetitive villain is Katz - a tall devilish red cat, who is often an owner of touristy services which turn out to be rather dangerous for his customers.

John R. Dilworth often incorporates the first three letters of his last name into the show as part of fictional brands. Examples include a Dil-Vac brand vacuum cleaner and a Dil-Tools brand electric drill.


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