Freaky Fred is part two of the fourth episode of Season 1 of Courage the Cowardly Dog, which aired December 3, 1999, following The Demon in the Mattress. It was directed by John R. Dilworth and written by David Steven Cohen, with storyboard by Bill Marsilii.
Muriel's seemingly odd nephew Fred is coming for a visit, much to Courage and Eustace's chagrin. The episode begins with Fred introducing himself inside his head in the form of a poem, while riding on a bus to the middle of Nowhere. Fred then arrives at their farmhouse and is waiting at the door while Courage imagines all sorts of horrible things that he could be. Instead of all the things Courage fears, there stands a polite, yet strange man with a British accent, which scares him more than any monster he imagined.
As Muriel invites Fred to sit down in the living room, Courage is understandably wary of him, especially since Fred is now staring and visibly fixated on him. Eustace is about to leave for the hardware store to fix the problem of the bathroom door locking up when it's closed, however Muriel insists that he welcomes Fred. Eustace ignores Fred after a gruff hello and sits on the couch awkwardly for a few moments. After Courage notices a wristband on Fred's wrist for a "Home for Freaky Barbers" with a contact phone number, he tries to call Muriel's attention to it. Instead, Muriel has Courage show Fred to the bathroom so he can freshen up after his long trip.
Forgetting to give Fred fresh towels, Muriel has Eustace bring some upstairs. While Courage nervously waits outside the bathroom door, Eustace deliberately throws him inside and slams the door, locking both Fred and Courage in. Eustace leaves, and instead of going to the hardware store like he said he would, he goes to various other places (such as the beach) during the rest of the episode to stay away from Fred. As Courage cowers, Fred begins to tell Courage of how he first realized his compulsion to cut hair. Which started with the story of his pet hamster. He then starts preparing to shave Courage. Desperate, Courage hides in the toilet, but Fred finds him anyway and pulls him out. During his reminiscing he's already used his trimmer to give Courage a mohawk. This prompts another memory, this time of his former girlfriend, Barbara. Trimming more fur from Courage, Fred reveals they eventually broke up due to him shaving her bald. He continues to psychotically shave Courage.
He goes on to say how he tried to control himself, but inevitably gave in. Once again, Courage tries to escape, this time by going down the sink drain, but is only half-way there (and half-way shaved) before Fred pulls him out. Oblivious to what's presently happening, Muriel reassures the two Eustace will be back any second and gives them pancakes. Courage pulls out a phone and begins to dial the number on Fred's wristband, but Fred is quick to hide the number under his sleeve and to stuff Courage's mouth full of pancakes to keep him from speaking. However, before another flashback, Courage grabs the wristband free.
When a long bearded man arrived at his barber shop one day, Fred once again gave into his compulsion after the man saying asking only for a small trim . Afterward, it's assumed he was admitted into the Home for Freaky Barbers. He proceeds to shave Courage bald except for his tail. Taking an opportunity, Courage manages to dial the number. Fred beckons Courage towards him and despite insisting to a terrified Courage that shaving a tail "would be weird," Courage refuses.
Sirens are heard in the background and Fred gets up to look out the window, with a smile on his face as usual. Then he sighs, realizing he'll have to go back to the mental home. Orderlies break down the door. Restraining Fred in a straitjacket, they then escort him into a van with a padded back. Still smiling, Fred looks back on the farm wishing everyone farewell in his mind. Courage, however, is left with a little parting gift: "With Love, Fred" shaved on his backside.
In Ball of Revenge he appears on The Bagge' s TV saying "Courage..." Courage screams in terror, thinking is Freaky Fred going to try to kill him too like The Farmer, Katz, The Puddle Queen, Big Toe, Le Quack, Cajun Fox and Mr. Weremole because Fred was holding up an electric shaver.
Fred: Barbara, my love was named, and her fair hair, a mane untamed, until one evening, I'm ashamed, I got a little... naughty. The look upon my young love's face, was sweet as lace, but in this case, I realized she... needed space.
Eustace: "Fred's a barber. A freaky barber, with his own freaky barber shop, where freaky things happen, freaky barber things."
- This episode marks the first appearance of Freaky Fred. His next appearance would be at the end of Ball of Revenge.
- Fred says "naughty" 14 times.
- Fred's ex-girlfriend's name, "Barbara", coincidentally contains part of his own profession in it.
- This is one of the few episodes in which neither Eustace nor Muriel fell victim to the antagonist.
- The places that Eustace goes to avoid Fred are, the Bagge's truck to read the newspaper, the beach to relax, and the cinema where he sleeps while the film plays.
- Many consider this to be the creepiest episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog.
- Jeeves Weevil, who won't premiere until Evil Weevil, appears in Courage's thought bubble.
Cultural references and parodies
- Fred is a parody of Sweeney Todd, another crazed barber. However, while Fred does display a rather bizarre obsession, he shows no other psychotic tendencies. Unlike Todd, who sought to punish the wicked or be "merciful" to the innocent by killing them.
- As Courage was looking up the ceiling, he was first upstairs, but was later seen sitting next to Fred. Either he wasn't seeking properly or Muriel forced him to sit down.
- Muriel brought her chair and TV set upstairs for unknown reasons.
- At the end of the episode, Courage looks at his backside and notices a little fur left saying "With Love, Fred". However on several near-end scenes, there was no fur left, except for on his tail.
- The electric shaver was never damaged by water; although in real life, an electric shaver can be damaged by water while cutting wet hair.
- The front door of the Bagge's farmhouse has a screen on the window, but when Fred is standing at the door you can't see him or even a silhouette of him through the screen.
- When Eustace talks to Courage about Fred and his barber shop, Courage shakes and as he chatters his teeth; his upper left tooth with a cavity hole is replaced with a regular tooth. Somehow, throughout the episode, his decayed tooth reappears. Also, on Courage's backside, the two birthmark dots disappear as well (leaving only one); However, in some scenes of this episode, both of the dots are back on his behind (leaving all three).
- In previous scenes of this episode, he had his whole body shaved by Fred (including his hands), exposing his skin. However, on one shot, as Courage speaks to the operator, his hands are shown with his pink fur even though they were bald before.
- While Courage was screaming as Fred continued to cut off his fur, his voice of him yelling wasn't heard throughout the scene over the clipper buzzing, hair/fur shreds, Fred's off-screen narration and ambient-oriented vocalizations.
- When the officers walked upstairs to breach Fred and rescue Courage, they broke down the door and if you look closely on the outside of the door, the lock is gone. It is unclear how it disappeared from the door.
- Fred's wristband swaps wrists in the episode. In the beginning, Courage first sees it on Fred's right arm. Later, when they are locked in the bathroom, it's on his left.
- The phone number for the Home for Freaky Barbers is 555-1234. However, the number that Courage punches in on the phone is 555-381.
- Outside of the U.S., the part where Courage tries to quietly tell Muriel about Fred's wristband's phone number (and morphs into it) was cut, probably to avoid foreshadowing the plot.