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Cow and Chicken was an Emmy Award-nominated American animated television series, created by David Feiss. The series shows the adventures of a cow, named Cow, and her chicken brother, named Chicken, who are often tormented by the Red Guy, a usually pants-less devil-like character who poses as various characters to scam or hurt them as seen in the episodes "Supermodel Cow and Part Time Job". The series was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2000 and 2001

Like Dexter's Laboratory and other Cartoon Network series from the original pilot appeared as an episode of the What a Cartoon Show. The Cow and Chicken series first broadcast on Cartoon Network from 1997 to the year 1999, with reruns airing prominently on the network. Late into the series run, the characters I.M. Weasel and I.R. Baboon, who were part of the series' recurring segment, I Am Weasel, were another counterpart onto their own series.

Background

Premise

Cow and Chicken are sister and brother, a cow and a chicken, but who have human parents whose faces are never seen in any episode (although there are references where you can see their shadows of their upper halves). There is one episode when cow is digging in the closet and pulls out what would be their upper halves and refers to them as their science projects. The creators were faced with the question of whether and how to explain this scenario. Sometimes opening credits are cumbersome vehicles for an origin story. David Feiss approached this problem in the series' opening title sequence: Mama had a chicken/Mama had a cow/Dad was proud/He didn't care how. This is all that is ever offered in explanation, though there is one hint in the episode "The Day I Was Born" that Cow is adopted, while Chicken's paternity is unknown.

Cow and Chicken's extended family consists of various other types of animals, including Cousin Boneless, who is a boneless chicken (unable to walk or get up from the floor); Snail Boy, a snail; Cousin Black Sheep, a sheep; and Sow, an evil pig. They also have an uncle Longhorn Steer, who appears in "Professor Longhorn Steer". The episode "Happy Meat" also showed the ghosts of a pair of Cow and Chicken's ancestors, a male farmer married to a female chicken.

History

The idea of Cow and Chicken was created by David and Pilar Feiss, they worked together to develop the series and the first storyboard was painted by Pilar in their studio in Orangevale. Feiss was a cartoonist who had worked with Hanna Barbera and related projects since 1978.

Later, David Feiss was called to submit any ideas he had for the series "What a Cartoon!", a series that was comprised of various cartoon shorts from various creators and writers. Feiss submitted three ideas for the series, one of which was Cow and Chicken. Cow and Chicken premiered on the "What a Cartoon!" series in 1999. Although most cartoons in the series had never gone beyond one short, Hanna Barbera had decided to turn Cow and Chicken into full series, following many letters from fans asking for more Cow and Chicken Cartoons.

The new Cow and Chicken series premiered on July 7, 1997, and ran for 52 episodes through 200. Reruns continued to be shown on Cartoon Network. The show also included a cartoon called I Am Weasel as a supporting segment; this segment was spun-off as an independent series late in the show's run.

Cow and Chicken was notable in that a single actor, Charlie Adler, voiced four leading roles of Cow, Chicken, the Red Guy, and I. R. Baboon (much like how Mel Blanc voiced many characters in the Warner Brothers' Merry Melodies and Looney Tunes series). Other actors provided supporting voices, including Dan Castellaneta (the voice of Earl). David Feiss himself did the voice of a clown in an episode called "The Great Pantzini". Also, Will Ferrell voiced in various episodes.

Main characters

Cow

Cow-chicken-tv-01

(voiced by Charlie Adler) One of the two main characters, Cow is Chicken's not-so-little 7-year old sister. She is six feet tall and weighs 460 pounds. Her weight is given at several points as 600 pounds. She is usually viewed (at least by Chicken) as exceedingly infantile & stupid, but she occasionally displays uncanny talents.

Cow's alter ego is Supercow, a powerful cow with the ability to fly. Supercow's powers lie in a green blanket. Supercow's costume is purple with a logo on the chest which slightly resembles that of Superman, but with a C instead of a S. Inexplicably, she speaks Spanish. Her catchphrase is "¡Supercow al rescate!" ("Supercow to the rescue!") (in the Spanish edition of the show, she speaks the catch phrase in English). Cow first became Supercow in the Pilot, "No Smoking." Cow looks up to her big brother and she thinks Chicken is cool.

Chicken

Cow-chicken-tv-02

(voiced by Charlie Adler) Chicken is Cow's very cocky 11-year old brother. He is a foot-and-a-half tall and weighs four pounds. At times, he can be quite mean to his younger sister, and even to the rest of the family (as seen in "Chicken in the Bathroom", where he refuses to take a bath solely to prevent everyone else from using the toilet). In addition, he has a rather large ego. In spite of this, he has a powerful conscience, usually only displayed when Cow is in danger (and unable to become Supercow). He speaks with a "street" type of accent, often peppering his speech with malapropisms (as do the rest of the characters), and using sarcasm. Sometimes, Chicken uses Cow for his needs. In Sumo Cow, Chicken used Cow's size to get his money, then told her to get lost, making her look like the bully. Despite being a male, he, in one episode, demonstrated being able to lay eggs, only to toss a dozen of them at the Red Guy, who was posing as Dead Ghost (a parody of Space Ghost). Chicken is very fond of ice skating. Like other chickens, he cannot fly, but is also very much afraid of flying.

The Red Guy

RedGuy1

(voiced by Charlie Adler) "The Red Guy" serves as Cow and Chicken's rather incompetent arch-nemesis throughout the series. Originally portrayed as the Devil in the pilot (where he attempted to lure Chicken down to Hell by getting him to smoke cigarettes), he spends his time trying to either scam, torment, physically harm, or (in the earliest episodes) kill Cow and Chicken. He often disguises himself as an authority figure (principals, kings, lunch ladies, police officers, etc.). In some episodes, multiple and seemingly distinct Red Guys are present, usually working together. His catch phrases are, "Hello, it's me, (whoever he is)" , "Sue me", "Ooh", "Fetching", "Ahh", "Oh", and "Is that a crime?" (Pronounced "cra-yim", like his "nine" is pronounced "na-yin"). Like the other characters in the show, Red will refer to everyone else as ladies, girls, gals, or men.

A running joke throughout the series deals with the fact that The Red Guy does not wear pants (or underwear) and seems to take pride in his buttocks and his nudity. He often introduces himself with fake names exaggerating this fact (i.e. Dr. Laxslax, Ben Panced, Dr. Bottoms, Seymour Butts, Mr. Lackapants, Lance Sackless. Mrs. Bare Derierre, Officer Pantsoffski, Officer O'Fannyhee, Rear Admiral Floyd, Ivan Panced, Dr. I.C. High-knee, Mr. Breezybum, etc.).

Strangely, despite the long history of animosity between them, Cow, Chicken, and the Red Guy are actually portrayed as friends in some of the episodes. Because there have been multiple Red Guys in some episodes, it is unknown whether the Red Guy that always tries to make life difficult for Cow and Chicken is the same Red Guy that befriends them, or if it is a different one each time.

Flem

(voiced by Howard Morris) Chicken's best friend, who is short and has big thick red lips. He and his father both wear glasses. Of the three (Earl, Chicken and himself), he is the one most often sent to perform tasks, because he is considered the ugliest or fattest. Flem is named after one of David Feiss' friends back in Middle School who was not good looking but was very loyal. Flem sometimes breaks down in tears when the Red Guy talks about him.

Earl

(voiced by Dan Castellaneta) Chicken's other best friend who is tall, wears a red baseball cap and braces. Like Flem, Earl is based on one of David Feiss' friends back in Middle School.

Dad

(voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) "Dad" is Cow and Chicken's father. On screen, only his legs and waist are shown. He often boasts his manliness, stating that even the most mundane of tasks (such as driving in the snow in "Goin' My Way") "bring out the man in (him)". Perhaps he feels the need to do that, considering the fact that he was born a girl, as he states numerous times. In "Afraid of the dark", he confesses that "adopting dr. Laxslax was the best decision I've made since becoming a man!". Dad does not seem to know about Cow's birth, as once in an episode, he told Cow that she was born in a cabbage. Not only that, but he is also very proud of it as he cried and said, "That was the best cabbage we ever had". Like his wife, sometimes he also seems to be insane. For example, he once woke up his kids at 3:00 a.m. only to tell them how he and Mom met.

Mom

(voiced by Candi Milo) "Mom" is Cow and Chicken's mother. Like Dad, only her legs and waist are shown on screen. Also like Dad, she seems to be insane; even her wild laugh makes her sound crazy. She also seems to be very sensitive, as shown in one episode when she started to cry when Chicken asked what would happen if a guy goes in a girl's bathroom. She loves her kids very much, despite the fact that once, when she thought that Cow's pet snake could talk like both Cow and Chicken, she said, "Then what the heck do we need kids for?".

Teacher

(voiced by Candi Milo) "Teacher" is Cow and Chicken's female teacher who is simply called "Teacher." Her catch phrases are "Shut your pork traps!" or "Shut your pie holes!", which she shouts in class to get her students to listen to her.

Minor characters

  • Crabs the Warthog- One of Cow's favorite dolls. Shaped as a warthog with wheels instead of legs, as well as being dressed up in some smart and colorful clothes. His first appearance was in "Part Time Job." Crabs also has a key role in the episode, "Cow's Toys." Also appeared in "Can Cow Come Out and Play?" and in "Lawnmower Chicken."
  • Piles the Beaver- One of Cow's favorite dolls. Shaped as a purple beaver with blond hair. Much to Manure the Bear's disgust, Piles also has a rip-cord that says random things such as, "I'm Piles the Beaver. Hey!" His debut was in "Cow Loves Piles," but he was first mentioned in the episode, "Who is Supercow?" Piles also has an important role in "Cow's Toys."
  • Manure the Bear- One of Cow's favorite dolls. Shaped as a disgruntled bear wearing a stinky diaper. Manure wasn't introduced as one of Cow's dolls until season 3. Like Crabs and Piles, he also has a key role in "Cow's Toys."
  • Boneless Chicken (voiced by Charlie Adler)- Cow and Chicken's funny cousin. An older chicken who possesses no bones, except for having teeth. He always says random things, but the watcher can't tell if he's serious or just joking. He is a veteran of the Vietnam War. He only appeared in "Alive!", "The Laughing Puddle," "Red Butler," "Dream Date Chicken," "Boneless Kite." and "Cow & Chicken Blues."
  • Grandmama (voiced by Bibi Osterwald)- Mom's mother and Cow and Chicken's grandmother. She often seems as blind as a bat; she has glasses, but refuses to wear them. Once she lost her husband, and her only reason was can't remember where I put him. She was seen in the episodes, "Grandma at the Mall," and "No Smoking."
  • Flem's Dad- usually seen wearing Summer Camp clothing; he made appearances in the episodes, "The Legend of Sailcat", "Going My Way?", Lost at Sea".

Episodes

Main article: Cow and Chicken/Episodes

Humor

Cow and Chicken drew on several types of cartoon humor through its run. The series often made use of cartoon violence; Cow and Chicken were frequently placed in dangerous situations and the Red Guy was frequently pummeled and beaten (usually by Supercow). The series also made fun of the clichés of cartoons. For example, Cow has an alter-ego: Supercow, who is a superhero with different characteristics to her normal character (such as flight, and the ability to speak Spanish language|Spanish); and the Red Guy tries in vain to discover Supercow's secret identity so he can "die happy". Another cliché made fun of in the series is that the children's parents, who are called Mom and Dad by everyone, exist only from the waist down, and can be seen to stop at the waist (whenever their shadows appear, they are cut off at the waist). A picture even exists on the wall of the parents from the waist down. Also, Cow disguises herself as Dad simply by wearing Dad's pants. This makes fun of the idea of partially unseen characters and cartoons in which adults are seen only from the waist down (e.g. Muppet Babies). Also, many jokes of the series use adolescent humor, which made the show somewhat controversial.

Recurring jokes and gags

In some episodes, the missing upper bodies are used as a gag. For example in one episode ("No Smoking"), the cartoon "camera" accidentally zooms out too far, and shows Mom and Dad cut off at the waist. In another episode ("Cow and Chicken Reclining"), Cow and Chicken search through a closet by throwing out everything inside, and for a small moment, the upper (human) bodies of Mom and Dad are visible as part of a discarded science project by Cow (however, considering the absurdist nature of the show's humor, this may be a throwaway gag). They are also occasionally seen driving a car with their feet, writing and grabbing on to things with their toes, and dialling a phone by kicking the numbers. Mom and Dad's shadows are also shown as being cut off at the waist in several episodes. Additionally, at the end of one episode, when Mom and Dad are driving, the camera backs up, showing that they indeed have no upper half. In one episode, Cow also disguises herself as Dad by wearing his pants, which nearly cover Cow's face.

When disguised, The Red Guy often is without pants or, if disguise names often reflect this in puns or more literal references, such as "Officer Pantsoffski," "Mrs. Bare Derierre," "Ben Panced," "Rear Admiral Floyd" and "Dr. Laxslax"; Supercow will refer to the Red Guy's incarnations as "El Diablo sin pantalones" (literally, "the Devil without pants").

Within the show, the characters often refer to everyone else as ladies, girls, gals, or men, regardless of their gender, as well as constantly peppering their speech with malapropisms and using sarcasm.

The show often breaks the fourth wall. I Am Weasel exists as a cartoon in the fictional world of Cow and Chicken, however, this is contradicted in "I.R. In Wrong Cartoon" (a crossover between the two cartoons), when the Red Guy, disguised as a bearskin rug, says to Cow when she wants to take Weasel out of the TV to make him real, "He's just as real as you and I." In "The Laughing Puddle", when the entire population of Folsom has gone into the titular puddle, Chicken states, "Is anything in this cartoon ever going to make sense?" A few times throughout the series, some characters (usually the Red Guy) request for the cartoon to end.

Merchandise

DVD releases

Cow and Chicken: Season 1, a two-disc set featuring the complete first season which contains 13 complete episodes, was released by Madman Entertainment in Australia (Region 4 PAL) on September 12, 2007. There are currently no plans for a US release, however Warner Brothers has stated in an interview that they are "...in conversations with Cartoon Network" for DVD collections of various cartoons, among which is Cow and Chicken. [1]

Toys

Recently, according to AnimationInsider.net, Cow and Chicken, among many other Cartoon Network shows from the 1990s, will be in a new toy line in the fall of 2007. Cartoon Network has not yet released any other information on the subject of Cow and Chicken specifically.

Cow and Chicken, The Red Guy, and I Am Weasel have all been characters in the game Cartoon Network Racing. The game is for the PlayStation 2, Game Boy Advance and the Nintendo DS.

Censorship

Lesbian stereotyping

The episode titled "Buffalo Gals" was banned because of its innuendos implying that the Buffalo Gals were lesbians and its lesbian stereotypes. Some of the innuendos and sexual content included the carpet calling card Cow uses to find The Buffalo Gals, Mom's line "It's the Buffalo Gals, a biker group that randomly breaks into people's houses and cunnilingus|chews on their carpet," the name of one of the bikers being "Munch Kelly", and the Buffalo Gals playing softball and talking about "pitching" and "catching", slang term for Anal sex|gay sex. Cartoon Network had aired "Buffalo Gals" only once because it was banned, and since then it was replaced with the episode "Orthodontic Police".

"Oh divot!"

The episode "Comet!" was edited after its first showing. On the part where Dad hits his golf ball too far, he originally shouts, "Oh, divot!". This language offended people, due to the fact that it sounded like "damn it", and almost led to cancellation. On reruns, this was edited by having the Dad shout, "Oh..." followed by a few seconds of silence and a repeat of Dad yelling, "Two!" The unedited episode could be seen on Cartoon Network Video August 26th to October 8th 2007 and on Boomerang (TV channel). However, the "Oh, divot!" line remains intact on UK showings (as of July 2008).

Broadcast History

  • Cartoon Network (1997-1999, original-run; 1999-2006, reruns)

References

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