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Courage the Cowardly Dog: Season 2
Courage the Cowardly Dog became a huge success on the Cartoon Network as one of the famed "Cartoon Cartoons" which aired on the network's programming block. The series was inspired from the short film cartoon "The Chicken from Outer Space", which was an animated short similarly featuring Courage which was released in 1996 to great acclaim itself. The short of Courage became a huge success and earned an Academy Award nomination, which helped to green-light this television show. It became one of the network's most successful 'spooky-tacular' shows and the second season is now finally available on DVD for the first time.
Cartoon Network was host to a number of Cartoon Cartoons produced over the 90's and early 2000's, most of which were created after a successful pilot was helmed. While this series in question started out as a short film, it clearly had great potential for a full show and it was successful in transitioning. Each episode sort of plays out as if it were a kid-friendly short implementing some of the supernatural intrigue of something like The Twilight Zone but in decidedly different cartoon-specific ideas. The show stays true to a certain type of animated programming standard as each episode is like its own short film, standalone, and where these storylines never really intercept or interact that much with one another... it reminds one of the style of cartoon filmmaking found in the likes of Tom and Jerry but with a decidedly different setting and group of characters.
The lead character of the show is the anthropomorphic talking dog, Courage. Unlike what his name might suggest, Courage is actually a very spooked dog that has a lot of frights which in many instances cause him to grumble and jitter with antsy worry. Yet like his name, he is an entirely courageous dog who is brave and loyal to his family. In every episode of the show, a bizzare situation occurs which causes Courage (Marty Grabstein) to have to save the day and rescue his family of owners, Muriel (Thea White) and Eustace (Lionel G. Wilson).
As for the human characters, Muriel is a the sweetheart and gentle elderly lady and Eustace is her arrogant, annoying, and loud husband who is quick to yell "STUPID DOG! You make me look bad." to Courage on a regular basis for saving their lives again and again. While Courage is so often directly blamed for their woes by Eustace, he receives praises from Muriel. Someone has to look out for the family when the world surrounding them in their little town of "the middle of nowhere" consists of monsters, demons, aliens, robots, magical trees and other otherworldly bizarre beings who typically want to destroy the family somehow. Without the bravery of Courage and the dog's ability to leap to their rescue the family would have perished.
All 52 episodes were directed by the brilliant John R. Dilworth. The great Dilworth was also involved in the screenwriting process (in part or full) for many of the episodes during this successful four season run. Dilworth's style makes the show stand out successfully with a wonderful blend of the art-style and the storytelling origins. With great animation, a witty comedic style, and overall craft, Courage the Cowardly Dog has stood the test of time as a successful and beloved animated program from the Cartoon Network.
This set contains the entire run of season two:
1) The Magic Tree of Nowhere / Robot Randy
2) The Curse of Shirley / Courage in the Big Stinkin' City
3) Family Business / One Thousand Years of Courage
4) Courage Meets the Mummy / Invisible Muriel
5) The Human Habitrail / Mission to the Sun
6) Courage the Fly / Katz Kandy
7) Nowhere T.V. / Mega Muriel the Magnificent
8) Bad Hair Day / The Forbidden Hat of Gold
9) Serprent of the Evil River / The Transplant
10) Car Broke. Phone. Yes? / Cowboy Courage
11) Evil Weevil / McPhearson Phantom
12) House of Discontent / The Sand Whale Strikes
13) The Tower of Dr. Zalost
Courage the Cowardly Dog arrives on DVD with a pleasant and successful presentation which preserves the show's original 1.33:1 (full frame) aspect ratio. The color and detail impress. It features a impressive color palette which renders the animation effectively on this release. However, the set is not without some drawbacks, as aliasing and edge enhancement was noticeable on occasion. The transfers were not entirely pristine but they look pretty good, overall.
The series is presented with a basic Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo presentation. The design is fairly standard sounding for a television production of the time period. It doesn't have the most complex sound design and most of the focus is on the dialogue and music but without a complicated soundstage. However, the dialogue is clean, clear, and easy to understand.
There are no extras on this release.
Courage the Cowardly Dog is a delightful family television series with a lovable lead character who makes the series fun and exciting to watch. Courage is actually far from being a cowardly dog, but is rather brave for such a fraidy cat dog. The show is a great blend of science fiction, horror, and comedy and it wraps it all together into a program that can be enjoyed by kids of every age (so adults can enjoy it too). This release is well worth picking up for fans of this program. Hopefully the wait won't be as long for WB to release Season 3 and 4 on DVD.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.