COURAGE THE COWARDLY DOGMedium: TV animation
Produced by: Hanna-Barbera
First Appeared: 1995
Creator: John R. Dilworth
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Funny animal dogs often lead an independent existence, as if they were human beings. Augie Doggie, Deputy Dawg and Goofy are examples of this sub-genre. On the other hand, MGM's Spike & Tyke, Warner's Charlie Dog and the many protagonists of Disney's 101 Dalmatians are
pet dogs, their lives circumscribed by the humans around them. (Pluto, in fact, is the pet of another funny animal.) Courage the Cowardly Dog is of the latter variety.
Courage is the pet of Muriel "Ma" Bagge, who found Courage as a puppy on the street. He'd been an orphan since his mom and dad had failed to come home from a visit to the vet. Muriel lived on a farm near Nowhere, Kansas ("the middle of nowhere", as the opening sequence described it), with her grumpy old husband, Eustace. Eustace was unpleasant enough to his human acquaintances, let alone to a little pink dog who was afraid of everything he saw. Courage loved Muriel, but didn't like Eustace very much.
Scary stuff he saw included not just the frightening things usually found on farms, such as livestock and equipment, but also aliens, ghosts, sci-fi devices, monsters, and everything else Scooby Doo, whose menaces usually turned out to have rational explanations, never encountered.
Courage was created by animation writer/director/producer John R. Dilworth, whose early works appeared, among other places, on MTV's Liquid Television, where Beavis & Butthead were first seen. In the early 1990s, Dilworth worked at the Hanna-Barbera Studio, where material for the new Cartoon Network, such as Johnny Bravo and Powerpuff Girls, was produced. There, he made an ultimately Oscar-winning short called "The Chicken from Outer Space", which introduced Courage, for the network's What a Cartoon! show. It appeared there on December 31, 1995.
Several of Cartoon Network's regular half-hour shows, such as Dexter's Laboratory and Cow & Chicken, started out as episodes of What a Cartoon! or its successor, Cartoon Cartoon. Courage joined them on November 12, 1999. It lasted four seasons of 13 episodes each. Instead of making the series at Hanna-Barbera's studio, he used his own, Stretch Films.
Marty Grabstein, whose other acting credits consist of face roles, did the voice of Courage. Lionel G. Wilson, a veteran voice actor whose best-known role was Tom Terrific, was Eustace's first voice. Wilson had to give up the role in 2002 for health reasons (it was his final role), and it was taken over by Arthur Anderson, another with mostly face roles. Muriel was voiced by Billy Lou Watt, who was also the American voice of Astro Boy.
Including the introductory What a Cartoon! episode and s special that was shown in 2002, there were a total of 54 shows. The last one was aired for the first time on November 22, 2002, but like all episodes, has been seen several times since. There's been talk of an extra-long one to be marketed as a made-for-cable movie, but so far nothing has come of the talk. But Cartoon Network re-runs the series on a regular basis.