Reviews: Cow And Chicken

An Underrated, Surrealistic Masterwork

David Feiss's creation, Cow and Chicken, has long been dismissed as a cheap ripoff of Ren and Stimpy - which it isn't; you could easily say that R&S was a ripoff of Laurel and Hardy, that's how much it's a ripoff - and an unfunny Gross Out Show.

The fact is, those people are wrong. Cow and Chicken is in fact one of the few truly surrealist comedy cartoons out there. It is also one of Cartoon Network's best shows, to boot. And it is very funny. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The nearest comparison I can make is to the comedy of Monty Python. The show exhibits a very Pythonesque sense of surrealism. You can see it in the use of several Pythonesque comedic devices - e.g. parodying the tropes of a genre by using them in another genre that they are unsuited to: where the Pythons parodied spy tropes by using them with dentists, Cow and Chicken parodies sports movie tropes by using them with plastic surgeons.

The world Feiss creates in the show is also surrealist - it's a world that seems like the one we live in, except for the talking animals and the pantsless demon, but everything about it is off-kilter somehow. The characters treat insane things like they're normal; nobody blinks an eye when Cow and Chicken's father implies he was once a woman.

But how does the show put all this over? The animation, in one way. Where Feiss' fellow What A Cartoon graduates used limited animation of the UPA school, Cow and Chicken uses full animation, and it is animated rather well for a cartoon of its type. The pilot, "No Smoking," is very lavishly animated, though, in a way that could not have been done for TV.

The voice work is one of the greatest parts of the show. The show features a very talented voice cast: Howard Morris in one of his last voice roles, Candi Milo, Dan Castellaneta, Dee Bradley Baker - and Charlie Adler, one of the greatest voice actors of the 90s, as all the main characters.

Special mention must be given to the Red Guy, for which Charlie Adler gives not only his greatest performance, but one of the greatest performances in animation. This all hinges on his ability to make anything the Red Guy said funny, and he does it admirably.

As for I Am Weasel, it was an entertaining show, very funny, and much of what I said above applies to it too.

Oh, and "Buffalo Gals" was hilarious.