Review: “Courage the Cowardly Dog”

Review: Courage the Cowardly Dog

Jessica Dang, Co-Features Editor

Nefarious antagonists; gory, exploding organs; graphic animated violence and disturbing decapitations does not seem to fit the standards that most modern-day parents would have their children exposed to at a young age.  

Nineties Cartoon Network show “Courage the Cowardly Dog,” however, was the epitome of those themes that became the source of nightmares and laughter for most children who dared to tune in.

Program creator John R. Dilworth constructed an ethereal world where a timid, paranoid pink beagle named Courage fights to protect his married elderly owners, Muriel and Eustace, from paranormal adversaries — ranging from alien chickens to a large talking foot oozing fungi — surrounding the farm in the middle of Nowhere that the family inhabits.  

The show sets itself off from the generic portrayal of silly and whimsical cartoons by focusing more on emotions that are less depicted in mass media for younger audiences.

The title “Courage the Cowardly Dog” is a contradiction in its name; Courage is far from cowardice.  The show redefines the word, courage: courage no longer means defending against villainous figures but sacrificing and jeopardizing one’s life to protect loved ones.

Thrown into unusual misadventures and late-night terrors, Courage tries to make the best out of his life.  His painful memories include being abandoned as a puppy when his parents were forcibly shipped to outer space by an insane and cruel veterinarian.  On a daily basis, Courage is physically and mentally abused by Eustace and cruel villains who strangle him and insult him with harsh jokes.

Ironically, yet fitting, most of the antagonists and monsters in the show are ordinary humans.

“Courage the Cowardly Dog’s” disturbing episodes are void of a consecutive, uniform plot line.  But, viewers can be rest assured that Courage will always defeat the villains at the end of each episode and safely return Muriel to their home.

Despite Eustace dying at the end of most episodes, he miraculously resurrects himself and continues to live a “normal” life.  Perhaps, the creator wanted to create a lighter tone for children so that the show did not revolve solely around death.

The show encompasses comedic themes supported by Courage’s overreacted screams and a sassy, sarcastic computer that provides Courage with information to save his owners.

Although the show may be only a source of comedic relief, viewers can relate and live vicariously live through the anthropomorphic dog.  Sometimes individuals constantly find themselves working toward the benefits of others with no regard for themselves and end up being fruitless; Courage is the embodiment of that.

Teenagers who watched the show as a child should revisit their childhood fears and laugh at some of the monsters that used to keep them wide awake at night.  

As grumpy, demanding Eustace used to scream with an over-the-top scary mask to terrorize Courage “STUPID DOG, YOU MAKE ME LOOK BAD, OOGA OOGA BOOGA!”