Courage the Cowardly Dog

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I’ve revisited a couple of episodes recently. As a former lifelong fanatic of this show who acknowledges it still has a strong cult following, I’ve got to say my return left a disappointing taste.

The nostalgia completely wiped out and my breadth of fictional media reaching new dimensions, I am now much more perceptive to its defects. While it’s interesting that the show tries to tackle relatively dark themes for a kids’ cartoon, how it does that is a rather clumsy mixture of toilet humour and heavy-handed, superficial emotions thrown around in ridiculous storylines. Sounds familiar?

My biggest problem are the character motives. The villains are usually portrayed as tortured souls who became the way they are due to being given a bad hand in life, taking it out on Courage himself or his family. Despite the ridiculous, overly cartoonish circumstances that shaped them up, the show tries to squeeze in some opportunity to learn a valuable lesson. There’s a Scottish guy who kidnaps Muriel and forces her to make thousands of kilts, only because he’s frustrated with his name. There’s Dr. Zalost, a depressed scientist who is suddenly cured by Muriel’s happy plums recipe.

Even the pure evil, “scarier” villains become much less scary when you learn their measures. To offer an example, there’s a cohort of ghost viking-like vandals that terrorize Courage’s family because their windmill isn’t turning anymore, and there’s some lore tied to it that’s not too convincing.

Some might say I’m reading too much into what a cartoon for kids is trying to achieve, but I’d say I’m rather trying to challenge common conceptions over its supposed depth and emotion. There are entire video essays on YouTube going over it as if it’s worth analysing at the level of Game of Thrones. Though it’s got many good bits—tantalising visuals and atmosphere, an awe-inspiring soundtrack—I very much think it leaves to be desired in many areas, and I fully brace myself to be cooked alive for saying such things. I’ll concede, though, that the show does hide some good potential for characterisation and that the wildly varying shifts in mood would have their place if they were better handled.
 
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I always felt their motives were written intentionally ridiculous, his whole world operates like a nightmarish dream.
But I have to agree upon revisiting it, I disliked elements of it that went over my head as a kid. Freaky Fred for example is way more creepier and less kid appropriate when you realize he's a metaphor for something far worse than shaving peoples hair.
And then a lot of the antagonists I now realize are problematic stereotypes of people: eg. The roach in an apartment, the fortune telling chihuahua, the asian guy.
 

BEST DEEP HOUSE MIX 5 HRS

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But I have to agree upon revisiting it, I disliked elements of it that went over my head as a kid. Freaky Fred for example is way more creepier and less kid appropriate when you realize he's a metaphor for something far worse than shaving peoples hair.
That should be a good thing, though! This is one instance where the cartoon uses a metaphor without dilluting the subject or making the villain less threatening. That episode was great and should have served as a definite blueprint for other episodes.
 
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