“Stupid Dog!” or alternatively “The things I do for love.”
So I’ve dated myself somewhat. Most of these are 90’s cartoons—so shoot me, what can I say? The 90’s had some great animated shows.
Courage was one of these- one of those ‘end of the decade’ programmes which started just before the millennium, Courage the Cowardly Dog was a show about, funnily enough, a dog and his owners who lived in the middle of Nowhere. Literally, the middle of ‘Nowhere’ (yeah it’s gonna be one of those.)
So should Courage be on our list or is it going Nowhere? Come closer, gentle reader and all shall be revealed.
It’s weird as hell
Courage the Cowardly Dog is strange. Not Aaahh!!! Real Monsters weird and not Biker Mice from Mars weird. No, Courage was in an entire class of its own. The concept itself is bizarre, with a mostly-mute (‘habadab’ and whining noises being a lot of his dialogue, depending on the episode) and his owners, who are oblivious to the terrifying Kafka-esque world of horror they live in. Courage met with space chickens, soulless mummies, cannibalistic pigs and evil eggplants—say what you will about modern cartoons but nothing ever really matched the width and breadth of horrible shit that dog had to deal with. The art style, with everything either looking plastic-fake or post-apocalyptic bleak created an unsettling contrast. My point is, nothing today on TV is willing to push the boat out like Courage was so a reboot with full-honours to the creepy creative team would definitely make waves in today’s market.
Okay, now I’m pretty sure most people who watched Courage have at least one episode they remember as being traumatic. For most, it’s King Ramses and his slab (from “King Ramses’ Curse”) , Freaky Fred (from the same-titled episode) or the bewildering ‘Blue Thing’ from the final episode. For me it was the Weremole featured in the episode, Night of the Weremole.
Across the internet in various circles, people still gather to talk about their most morbidly-remembered Courage episodes- and while most cartoons have the occasionally unintentionally haunting episode (The Bear & Lion from the Teletubbies will forever haunt my dreams and waking moments alike), Courage was without a doubt intentionally scary.
“What kind of monster are you,” I hear you cry o gentle reader, “wanting to reboot a ‘toon with the intention of scaring kids!” to you I say this is not my intention, dear sweet reader. All I want to do is highlight the lack of ‘scary’ kids programmes- there is nothing like Courage today, and the fact that it is scary is something to be celebrated. If there’s anything TV like post-reboot Doctor Who has taught us it’s that scariness in kids’ TV is not to be shied away from. The fact Courage is just as scared, if not more so, than the viewer only makes his endeavours to stop the monsters, the aliens and the horrors all the more endearing.