|Cow and Chicken|
|Created by||David Feiss|
Dee Bradley Baker
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||52 (List of Cow and Chicken episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Sherry Gunther|
Brian A. Miller
|Running time||22 minutes (approx.)|
|Production company(s)||Hanna-Barbera Studios|
Cartoon Network Studios
|Original channel||Cartoon Network|
|Original run||July 15, 1997 – July 24, 1999|
Cow and Chicken is an American animated comedy television series created by David Feiss for Cartoon Network. The series follows the surreal adventures of a cow, named Cow, and her chicken brother, named Chicken. They are often antagonized by "The Red Character", who poses as various characters to scam them. 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 given their own half-hour series of the same name. Cow and Chicken was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1996 and 1998.
Like Dexter's Laboratory and some other Cartoon Network series from the 1990s, the original pilot appeared as an episode of the animated shorts showcase project What a Cartoon!, the brainchild of Fred Seibert, then-president of Hanna-Barbera Studios. The Cow and Chicken series was broadcast on Cartoon Network from July 15, 1997, to July 24, 1999, with reruns airing prominently on the network until April 2006. Reruns are currently aired on Boomerang, Cartoon Network's sister network.
The program focuses on the misadventures of two unlikely yet somehow biological siblings; the sweet-natured, dim, ecstatic anthropomorphic Cow and her cynical elder brother Chicken. The series is set in an eccentric, surreal environment and humored with laughably grotesque, repulsive comedy and animation, and revolves around the surreal, strange escapades experienced by Cow and Chicken that are often triggered by their odd, naked enemy the Red Character.
The humor and storylines depicted in the series are sometimes based around traditional childhood worries, anxieties, or phobias such as cooties or venturing into the girls' restroom, but enhanced comically. Other characters include Chicken and Cow's slightly delirious, dimwitted human parents that are only seen from their legs down, and Chicken's two best friends Flem and Earl, along with the appropriately-named cousin, Boneless Chicken.
Cow (voiced by Charlie Adler) — Chicken's 7-year-old sister. She is usually depicted with low intelligence and childlike naivety, and is often blind to her brother's disdain and carelessness for her. However, she is better-liked by her peers and has achieved a wide array of accomplishments throughout the course of the series, such as being crowned a beauty pageant queen (under the Red Character's tutelage and training), becoming a model, and often masquerading as her intelligent superhero alter-ego Super Cow.
However, many of Cow's achievements have proven to be scams pulled by the Red Character against her or for his own benefits and pleasure, albeit she has accomplished a lot without his manipulative guidance; she has written a musical before that was performed by the school drama club in one episode and was able to temporarily put a stop to the long-running, destructive "Cheese War" that had been devastating the home of her new-found lover, only for new conflicts to be triggered shortly afterward.
Cow is noted for her superhero alter-ego, Super Cow, who has displayed greater intelligence than she has and is capable of speaking Spanish, albeit the Red Character has attempted to unmask the superhero. Cow owns three dolls that she greatly cherishes; Crabs the Warthog, Manure the Bear, and Piles the Beaver.
Chicken (voiced by Charlie Adler) — Cow's 11-year-old brother. He can be mean to his younger sister, and even to the rest of the family. He has a powerful ego, but in spite of this, a powerful conscience (usually only displayed when Cow is in danger). He is more intelligent (and sane) than most characters, and his selfish actions can actually come to others help. His speech is riddled with malapropisms and sarcasm.
Despite being a male, he demonstrated the ability to lay eggs. Chicken is very fond of ice skating. Like other chickens, he cannot fly, and is afraid of flying. Chicken is the only character in the show who knows that his sister and Supercow are the same person. Chicken even once turned into his own alter ego, calling himself "Wonder Wattle" to save his sister. Whereas Supercow speaks fluent Spanish, Chicken requires the help of a Spanish dictionary.
The Red Character (voiced by Charlie Adler) — based off the character in religion Satan in the pilot episode "No Smoking", he is no longer shown as that character, but instead as a being who is known for masquerading as different people with different occupations in order to harm, torture or scam Cow and Chicken for reasons never established in the series. Often, these characters are given pun names related to the Red Character's bare posterior and lack of pants (e.g. Doctor Lackslacks), and sometimes he has been known to disguise himself as more than one character in the same episode in order to continue bothering Cow and Chicken, and sometimes I.R. Baboon and Weasel.
Flem (voiced by Howard Morris) — One of Chicken's best friends who has 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 his peers consider him the ugliest or fattest. Flem is named after one of David Feiss's friends in middle school who was not good-looking but was very loyal.
Earl (voiced by Dan Castellaneta (using a higher pitched version of the slurred, drunken voice Castellaneta uses when he voices Simpsons character, Barney Gumble)) — Chicken's other best friend who is tall and skinny and wears a red baseball cap and braces. Like Flem, Earl is based on one of David Feiss' friends in middle school. Earl lives with Flem and Flem's Dad.
Dad (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) — Cow and Chicken's father. His brother is Professor Longhorn Steer. On screen, only his legs and waist are shown. He is identified by green pants and brown loafers. He boasts his manliness, stating that even the most mundane of tasks (such as driving in the snow) "bring out the man in him". Dad does not seem to know about Cow's birth and once stated she was born in a cabbage and claimed, "That was the best cabbage we ever had". Like his wife, sometimes he 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. Sometimes he indirectly refers to himself as a woman (when talking about a clock passed down to all the girls to his family, he said that his mother gave to him, when he was giving said clock to Cow) or to Mom as a man ("start your day off like a man, just like Momma").
Mom (voiced by Candi Milo) — Cow and Chicken's mother. Like Dad, only her legs and waist are shown on screen and is identified by a white dress with red polka-dots, a yellow apron and red flat shoes. She is prone to giving her children rules applying only to a specific situation that can also be applied elsewhere, such as "never go to the carnival naked" or "never run around in a burning school auditorium". She is sensitive, as shown in one episode, crying when Chicken asked what would happen if a guy goes in a girl's bathroom (though it is hinted she might have been worried Chicken would commit voyeurism).
The idea of Cow and Chicken first existed as a story that David Feiss had made for his daughter. Feiss was a cartoonist who had worked with Hanna-Barbera and related projects since 1978.
Later, Feiss was called to submit any ideas he had for the series What a Cartoon!, a series composed of various cartoon shorts from various creators and writers. Feiss submitted three ideas for the series to Larry Huber, the series' executive producer. One of the ideas was Cow and Chicken. Cow and Chicken premiered on the What a Cartoon! series in 1995. Although most cartoons in the series had never gone beyond one short, Hanna-Barbera decided to turn Cow and Chicken into a full series (possibly partly because of the Emmy Award nomination for the original short), following many letters from fans asking for more Cow and Chicken cartoons.
The Cow and Chicken series premiered on July 15, 1997, in the United States, although the first season was originally shown on Cartoon Network in Europe earlier that year. The series ran for 52 episodes through 1999. Reruns continued to be shown on Cartoon Network until April 10, 2006. As a supporting segment, the show included a cartoon called I Am Weasel; this segment was spun off as an independent series late in the show's run. Typically, an episode would consist of two seven-minute Cow and Chicken shorts playing back-to-back, then followed by a seven-minute I Am Weasel short before the end credits. The exception to this structure was episode 105 ("The Ugliest Weenie"), which had the Weasel short ("I Are Big Star") play in-between the two Cow and Chicken shorts, possibly because said shorts were one storyline.
Cow and Chicken was notable in that a single actor, Charlie Adler, voiced three leading roles of Cow, Chicken, and the Red Character (similar to how Mel Blanc voiced many characters in the Warner Brothers' Merrie 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". Additional voices in various episodes were provided by Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, and Seth MacFarlane.
Cow and Chicken has a total of 52 episodes spread over 4 seasons that were produced from November 1996 to April 1999. Each half-hour episode contains 2 Cow and Chicken segments and 1 I Am Weasel segment. Two episodes ("Buffalo gals" and "no smoking") were produced and aired during the series' initial run, but were later banned and never aired on Cartoon Network or Boomerang again.
The segment "Buffalo Gals", which aired initially on February 20, 1998, along with the follow-up segment "Cow and Chicken Reclining," was banned by Cartoon Network because of its innuendos implying that the Buffalo Gals were lesbians. The episode contained obvious sexual humor, which includes Mom's line "Oh, the Buffalo Gals, a motorcycle riding gang that randomly bursts into people's homes and chews on their carpet.", the name of one of the bikers being "Munch Kelly," the Buffalo Gals singing "Buffalo Gals" (Buffalo gals, won't you come out tonight?), and the Buffalo Gals playing softball and talking about "pitching" and "catching", slang terms for gay sex. The episode aired only once, and was replaced with the episode "Orthodontic Police" in future airings.
- Cow and Chicken at Cartoon Network's Department of Cartoons (archive)
- Cow and Chicken at TV.com
- Cow and Chicken at the Big Cartoon DataBase