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Dog City is an American/Canadian television series that was produced by Nelvana Limited and Jim Henson Productions in association with Channel 4, Global Television Network, FORTA and Canal+ Spain and aired on FOX (then the new network formed from owner Rupert Murdoch's purchase of Metromedia's television assets) from September 26, 1992 to November 26, 1994 and in Canada on Teletoon until 2000. The show contained both animation by Nelvana, and puppetry by Jim Henson Productions.

Dog City
Dog City (title card).jpg
Dog City title screen
Also known asJim Henson's Dog City
Created byJim Henson (original made for TV movie)
Written byLaraine Arkow, Terrie Collins, Marty Isenberg, Robert N. Skir, Robert Schechter, and Gary Sperling.[1]
StarringMuppet performers:
Fran Brill
Lisa Buckley
Kevin Clash
Joey Mazzarino
Brian Muehl
David Rudman
Voices ofRon White
Elizabeth Hanna
Stuart Stone
John Stocker
James Rankin
Stephen Ouimette
Howard Jerome
Paulina Gillis
Country of originUnited States
Canada
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes31
Production
Executive producer(s)Michael K. Frith
Brian Henson
Patrick Loubert
Michael Hirsh
Clive A. Smith
Production company(s)Nelvana Limited
Jim Henson Productions
DistributorNelvana International
Release
Original networkUSA:
FOX (Fox Kids)[2]
Canada:
Global Television Network
Audio formatStereo
Original releaseSeptember 26, 1992 –
November 26, 1994

TV movieEdit

Dog City was originally an hour-long live-action TV movie, broadcast on May 5, 1989 as an episode of The Jim Henson Hour, featuring the characters as puppets. In Dog City: The Movie, Ace Yu inherits a bar-restaurant called the Dog House following the death of his Uncle Harry and is harassed for protection money by crime syndicate boss Bugsy Them (who was responsible for the death of Uncle Harry, who, as it turns out, was actually Ace's father). Refusing to pay or fight him, Bugsy kidnaps Ace's love interest, Colleen. There are car chases and shoot-em-ups and rubber duckies involved in the action. In the end, Ace defeats Bugsy and gets the girl.[3]

CharactersEdit

  • Ace Yu (performed by Kevin Clash) - A German Shepherd adopted by Chinese Pekingese parents. Although Ace's puppet is a Hand-Rod Puppet, it is later modified into a Live-Hand Puppet when it was used to play Eliot in the TV series.
  • Colleen Barker (performed by Fran Brill) - A Rough Collie who serves as Ace's love interest.
  • Bugsy Them (performed by Jim Henson) - A vain bulldog crime boss who is proud of his tail. His puppet is later used to play Bruno in the TV series.
    • Miss Belle (performed by Camille Bonora) - A poodle that is the key associate and the wife of Bugsy Them.
    • Mad Dog (performed by Steve Whitmire) - Bugsy Them's dimwitted St. Bernard henchman. His puppet is later used to play Bowser in the TV series.
    • Scruffy (performed by Gord Robertson) - Bugsy Them's henchman who is always scratching at his fleas.
    • Laughing Boy (performed by Rickey Boyd) - Bugsy Them's henchman who is always laughing and cracking jokes.
  • Bubba (performed by Jerry Nelson) - The bartender at the Dog House. He is a recycled and modified version of the Wolfhound from The Muppet Show.
  • Mac (performed by Steve Whitmire) - The waiter at the Dog House. Although Steve Whitmire performed Mac in most scenes, Mac was performed by Rickey Boyd in a scene where he was sweeping.
  • Quackers (performed by Rob Mills) - Ace Yu's sailor duck doll.
  • Rowlf the Dog (performed by Jim Henson) - The piano-playing dog from The Muppet Show is the narrator of the TV movie.

Dog City: The Movie also features cameos by Sprocket the Dog from Fraggle Rock, Lyle the Dog and Baskerville the Hound from The Muppet Show, a dog character that resembles Tramp from Lady and the Tramp, and a background pug that later appears in Jim Henson's Animal Show, Puppet Up!, and other Henson Alternative projects.

The Muppets of Ace Yu and his associates would make cameos in The Muppets at Walt Disney World and would later go on to become Eliot Shag and the other "real world" counterparts to the animated characters.

Dog City: The Movie (sans the framing sequences) was released to regions 1 and 2.

The company's YouTube channel has 6 clips from the pilot in a playlist called "Dogs of Anarchy!".[4]

PlotEdit

The animated portions of the show focused on a canine private investigator named Ace Hart. The Muppet portions of the show focused on the interactions between Ace Hart and his animator Eliot Shag (who, like Ace, is a German Shepherd). Eliot would illustrate the stories while Ace would go traverse through it, occasionally breaking the fourth wall to speak with Eliot about the various troubles with the story. In one episode, Eliot even enters Dog City himself to join Ace in solving a mystery.

A recurring gag was that many of the characters in the cartoon were seemingly based on the residents of Eliot's apartment building. The bulldog crime-boss Bugsy Vile was inspired by the building's grouchy bulldog superintendent Bruno. Ace's love interest Rosie was based on Eliot's deep feelings for his neighbor Colleen, and so on. The Muppet characters were unaware of this. In the first episode, Bruno asks Eliot how a loser like him could have created a great character like Bugsy. Eliot replies, "Sometimes it just stares me right in the face."

Later series included segments from other shows Eliot worked on, including skits featuring the main Dog City characters and a superhero series starring the Batman parody Watchdog.

CharactersEdit

AnimatedEdit

  • Ace Hart (voiced by Ron White) - A German Shepherd who is a private-eye detective.
  • Rosie O'Gravy (voiced by Elizabeth Hanna) - A beautiful Rough Collie who is the chief of detectives and Ace's love interest.
  • Eddie (voiced by Stuart Stone) - An English Springer Spaniel news-pup who often tags along on Ace Hart's cases.
  • Bugsy Vile (voiced by John Stocker) - A bulldog who is a crime boss. As the "Dogfather of Crime," he is the main enemy of Ace Hart.
    • Frisky (voiced by James Rankin) - A chihuahua who is Bugsy Vile's excitable henchman.
    • Mad Dog (voiced by Stephen Ouimette) - Bugsy Vile's psychotic mongrel henchman.
    • Bruiser (voiced by Howard Jerome) - Bruiser is Bugsy Vile's tough nephew and henchman.
    • Kitty (voiced by Paulina Gillis) - A female cat who serves as Bugsy's gun moll. She owns The Kitty Cat Club which is often used as a hideout and front for Bugsy Vile's group.
  • Baron Von Rottweiler (voiced by Dan Hennessey) - A villainous German Rottweiler who is the secondary enemy of Ace Hart.
    • Leon Burger - A dachshund who serves as valet and henchman to Baron Von Rottweiler. He doesn't talk for some reason.
  • Mayor Kickbark (voiced by Stephen Ouimette) - The Mayor of Dog City. He is always undermining Rosie O'Gravy.
    • Spunky the Flunky (voiced by John Stocker) - Mayor Kickbark's aide.
  • Dot (voiced by Tara Strong) - Rosie O'Gravy's cute and lovely niece. She often appears with Rosie in "The Adventures of Rosie and Dot" segments. Her only dialogue was "Why".
  • Steven (voiced by George Buza) - Steven was a canine watchman who was often seen in the animated segment with Yves.
  • Yves (voiced by Rino Romano) - A cat burglar who debuted in the third season. He would try to steal something only to get thwarted comically by Steven.
  • Sam Spayed - An old police dog who served as a teacher and father figure to the young Ace Hart. His name is a pun on the Dashiell Hammett character Sam Spade.
  • Sherlock Bones - An English bloodhound detective who was a rival to Ace until he was exposed as an art thief. His name is a spoof of Sherlock Holmes.
  • Woof Pack - A team of superhero dogs. The group was featured in comic vignettes, approaching mundane tasks like grocery shopping from a superheroic perspective.
    • Watch Dog - Watchdog is a superhero who is a parody of Batman where his name is take on Alan Moore's graphic novel Watchmen. Watch Dog carries hourglasses which act as gas canisters, and constantly uses time and clock related gadgets and metaphors. In "Who Watches the Watch Dog," Watch Dog's creator Fob Canine (a caricature of Bob Kane) posed as Watch Dog where he has his fellow comic book artist pose as the Labrador Gang in order to get Watch Dog to be popular again. Watch Dog is also the leader of the superhero group called the Woof Pack when the "Woof Pack" segments debuted in Season 3.
    • Plastic Lassie - A collie with the power of elasticity and member of the Woof Pack.
    • Pectoral Pooch - A dog with super-strength and member of the Woof Pack.
    • Hear Boy - A sound-sensitive superhero and member of the Woof Pack.
    • Wonder Whelp - The smallest, and youngest member of the Woof Pack.

MuppetsEdit

  • Eliot Shag (performed by Kevin Clash) - A German Shepherd who is the animator of Ace Hart's adventures. He often communicates with Ace Hart and would be interrupted by his girlfriend or Bruno.[5] In "Who Watches the Watch Dog," it is revealed that Elliot is a fan of a superhero called the Hooded Hound. Seeing as Eliot is a Live-Hand Muppet, Kevin Clash is assisted in operating Eliot by Don Reardon who operates Eliot's right hand.
  • Colleen Barker (performed by Fran Brill) - A collie who was Eliot's on-and-off girlfriend. She moved away from the apartment when the character was dropped by Season Two. She was the first inspiration for Rosie O'Gravy.
  • Terri Springer (performed by Fran Brill) - Terri Springer is an English Springer Spaniel who debuts in Season Two. She is Eliot's neighbor, Artie's mother, and a beautiful businesswoman. She served as the new inspiration for Rosie O'Gravy.
  • Artie Springer (performed by Joey Mazzarino) - An English Springer Spaniel, Artie Springer is Eliot's young friend and son of Terri Springer. His favorite squeaky toy, a yellow rabbit called Mr Mookie, eventually starred in its own cartoon. Artie's puppet was previously seen as a background character in the original special. He served as the inspiration for Eddie.
  • Bruno (performed by Brian Muehl) - Bruno is a bulldog who is the surly building superintendent of the apartment that Eliot lives in and has a tendency to hassle Elliot. He served as the inspiration for Bugsy Vile.
    • Bowser (performed by David Rudman) - Bowser is a St. Bernard who is the hulking slow-witted handyman and Bruno's assistant who has a tendency to aide of hinder him. He served as the inspiration for Bruiser.
  • Ms. Fluffé (performed by Lisa Buckley) - A cat who is the landlady of the apartment that Eliot lives in. Ms. Fluffé often comes in conflict with Bruno over building policies and his tendency towards incompetence where Bruno generally kowtows to her. She served as the inspiration for Kitty.

Series overviewEdit

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast airedNetwork
PilotMay 5, 1989 (1989-05-05)NBC
113September 26, 1992 (1992-09-26)January 30, 1993 (1993-01-30)Fox Kids
210September 18, 1993 (1993-09-18)November 20, 1993 (1993-11-20)
38September 17, 1994 (1994-09-17)November 24, 1994 (1994-11-24)

EpisodesEdit

Season 1: 1992–93Edit

Ep Title Air date
11"The Big Squeak"September 26, 1992 (1992-09-26)
Bugsy Vile steals all the squeaky toys in the hope of finding one that will unlock a millionaire's safe.
22"Taming of the Screw"October 3, 1992 (1992-10-03)
Ace Hart is persuaded to capture escaped lunatic Screwy Louie before Bugsy's gang can recruit him.
33"Meat the Butcher"October 10, 1992 (1992-10-10)
When Eliot's boss wants an Ace Hart adventure with violence, Eliot takes up Ace's advice and animates an episode where Ace is attacked by a psychopathic hitman named Meat the Butcher.
44"Disobedience School"October 17, 1992 (1992-10-17)
Bugsy takes over a school with the intent of corrupting young pups into robbing the bank. Unknown to him, all of his pupils (except Eddie and Bingo) are cops in disguise.
55"The Dog Pound"October 31, 1992 (1992-10-31)
Ace Hart is sent to jail for stealing a priceless slipper and must prove his innocence.
66"Radio Dazed"November 14, 1992 (1992-11-14)
A series of suspicious accidents threaten to put Dog City's radio station off air.
77"The Bloodhound"November 21, 1992 (1992-11-21)
When Eliot gets suspicious of Colleen's new boyfriend, he animates an Ace Hart adventure where he tracks down a vampire called the Bloodhound.
88"Adventures in Puppysitting"November 28, 1992 (1992-11-28)

Colleen Barker asks Eliot to puppysit her baby nephew Pomeroy who turns out to be a handful. This gives Eliot the inspiration for his latest Ace Hart cartoon where Bugsy recruits master thief Puppy-faced Felson who specializes in disguising himself as a baby so he can steal the Hope on the Rope Diamond from wealthy heiresses Zsa Zsa Gbark.

Note: Pomeroy was previously seen in the Dog City special as a police officer.
99"Ya Gotta Have Hart"December 19, 1992 (1992-12-19)
When Eliot Shag and Ace object to Eliot's boss on the changes of the Ace Hart cartoons, both of them end up fired. In order to pay the rent, Eliot animates Ace into performing in different commercials, French films, and nursery rhyme. Meanwhile, Bruno, who wanted to kick out Eliot anyway, plots to kick Eliot out regardless of status.
1010"In Your Dreams"January 9, 1993 (1993-01-09)
After a long hard day of drawing a new Ace Hart adventure, Eliot Shag falls asleep at his drawing table where he appears as a cartoon in Ace Hart's world.
1111"Rocketship K-9"January 16, 1993 (1993-01-16)
When Bruno is convinced that aliens are going to invade, Eliot Shag animates an Ace Hart cartoon where Ace has to save the moon from Bugsy Vile, Baron von Rottweiler, and a Russian cat agent named Bestov Breed.
1212"Cats 'n' Dogs"January 23, 1993 (1993-01-23)
During Eliot's infestation of fleas, Bruno suspects that the cats are responsible, causing Ms. Fluffé to fire him. This gives Eliot the idea of an Ace Hart cartoon where Bugsy Vile is in a gang war with the East Side Cats led by Clawed Badly.
1313"Is It Arf?"January 30, 1993 (1993-01-30)
Ace meets rival detective Sherlock Bones at the time when an art thief is at large.

Season 2: 1993Edit

Ep Title Air date
141"Boss Bruiser"September 18, 1993 (1993-09-18)
When Bruno gets fired by Ms. Fluffé, the job of building superintendent falls to Bowser. This inspires Eliot to animate an Ace Hart cartoon where Bruiser is put in charge of Bugsy Vile's gang.
152"Springer Fever"September 25, 1993 (1993-09-25)
Bugsy Vile throws Dog City into chaos by kidnapping the Mayor's secretary. Colleen dumps Eliot and he gets a new love interest: Artie's mum Terri.
163"Much Ado About Mad Dog"October 2, 1993 (1993-10-02)

Ace gains a new ally after saving Mad Dog from drowning. In this episode, it is revealed Mad Dog quotes William Shakespeare's lines when hit over the head. In the real world, Terri is approached by Colonel Claghound who wants to make a business deal with her.

Note: Colonel Claghound is a recycled version of Lyle the Dog from The Muppet Show.
174"Of Mutts and Mayors"October 9, 1993 (1993-10-09)
Bugsy cheats in the election and becomes mayor of Dog City. Ace and Rosie are fired from the police force and declared outlaws.
185"Who Watches the Watchdog?"October 16, 1993 (1993-10-16)

While Eliot repairs Artie's Bite-Man figure, it inspires him to make an Ace Hart cartoon where Ace accompanies Eddie to a comic convention where Bugsy Vile competes with the Labrador Gang to steal the 100 rarest comics.

Note: One of the guest at the comic book convention is called Stan Flea, who is a homage to Stan Lee. There is also Mongrel Comics (a parody of Marvel Comics) which published the Whippet (who vaguely resembles The Spirit, but whose costume and whip-like tail are a tribute to Indiana Jones) and Weiner Dog (a rubbery canine a la Plastic Man or Mister Fantastic).
196"The Great Dane Curse"October 23, 1993 (1993-10-23)
Ace Hart is hired to protect a wealthy heiress from assassins and her controlling father. Unknown to Ace, her boyfriend is Bruiser.
207"Out of the Mouths of Pups"October 30, 1993 (1993-10-30)
Eliot's fans (including Artie) mail him ideas for new Ace Hart episodes, which he attempts to incorporate into his latest cartoon.
218"Farewell, My Rosie"November 6, 1993 (1993-11-06)
Rosie disappears on the same day as Ace's party. Ace discovers she was Bugsy Vile's prom date and nearly married Baron Von Rottweiler.
229"Old Dogs, New Tricks"November 13, 1993 (1993-11-13)

Eliot Shag teams up with his old animation teacher Scratch McCollie in order to do an Ace Hart cartoon where Ace teams up with Sam Spayed.

Note: Scratch McCollie is a refurbished version of the Wolfhound from The Muppet Show.
2310"Sick as a Dog"November 20, 1993 (1993-11-20)
When Eliot Shag is sick and unable to make his deadline, his neighbors help to make an Ace Hart cartoon where they each take turns animating.

Season 3: 1994Edit

Ep Title Air date
241"The New Litter"September 17, 1994 (1994-09-17)
Ace and Eddie visit Jurassic Park and Bugsy steals the secret chemical for cloning dinosaurs. Artie creates his own cartoon featuring the squeaky toy Mr. Mookie.
252"Doggy See, Doggy Do"September 24, 1994 (1994-09-24)
Ace pursues Bugsy posing as a children's TV star, Bernie. Artie gets bad grades in school and is grounded.
263"Comedy of Horrors"October 1, 1994 (1994-10-01)

Baron Von Rottweiler steals Eddie's brain and tries to force Rosie to marry his monster. An escaped lunatic resembling Bowser terrorizes Eliot, Artie and Bruno.

Note: This cartoon pays homage to several classic horror movies, including Frankenstein, Nosferatu, The Wolf Man, The Shining, Godzilla, Roger Corman's adaption of the Edgar Allan Poe series, and Friday the 13th.
274"Howl the Conquering Hero"October 8, 1994 (1994-10-08)
Eliot helps Artie understand that a hero doesn't always have to be a superhero. This gives Eliot the idea to animate an Ace Hart cartoon where Ace and Bugsy Vile compete for the Hero of the Year award.
285"Reduce, Re-Use, Retrieve"November 5, 1994 (1994-11-05)

Artie tries to get the other apartment residents to recycle. This gives Eliot the inspiration to animate an Ace Hart cartoon where Ace uncovers a plot by Baron von Rottweiler to take over the world by stealing the world's trees.

In the latest adventures of "The Adventures of Rosie and Dot," Rosie and Dot go camping in the same forest as Bugsy Vile's gang.

In "Yves 'n Steven," Yves' plot to steal prized possessions is comically thwarted by Steven.
296"Future Schlock"November 12, 1994 (1994-11-12)
Baron Rottweiler builds a time machine and travels back to the 1600s where he uses squeaky toys to buy America from the Native American wolves.
307"No Pain, No Brain"November 19, 1994 (1994-11-19)
Bugsy and Ace compete in the Olympic games. Artie, Bruno and Bowser help Eliot get in shape for the Marathon.
318"Dog Days of Summer Vacation"November 26, 1994 (1994-11-26)
Eliot, Artie, and Terri plan a vacation, which inspires an episode where Ace has to take on the Vandalizer, a crooked canine that wrecks vacations for others.

CastEdit

Muppet performersEdit

VoicesEdit

Additional voicesEdit

ReceptionEdit

Dog City received generally positive reviews from critics, holding a 7.6 on IMDb. Fans, meanwhile, liked the idea of a cartoon conversing with his animator and the parallels between the cartoon and the "real" world.

Video releasesEdit

Two VHS tapes with two episodes each were released by Sony Wonder. Much Ado About Mad Dog contains the episodes Much Ado About Mad Dog and Old Dogs, New Tricks. The Big Squeak contains the episodes The Big Squeak and Boss Bruiser. Another tape, Disobedience School was released in the UK through Channel 4 and contains the episodes Disobedience School, The Dog Pound, and Radio Daze.

Dog City: The Movie was released to UK exclusive region 2 DVD, and a Region 1 DVD was released on June 8, 2010, though the series has not had any DVD release. Most episodes of all three seasons are available from Amazon Video on Demand.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Erickson, Hal (1993). Television Cartoon Shows An Illustrated Encyclopedia 1949-1993. McFarland and Company Inc., Publishers. ISBN 0-7864-0029-3.
  2. ^ Stevens, Mary (February 5, 1993). "It's Not Easy Being A Henson". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  3. ^ "Jim Henson's Dog City: The Movie". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  4. ^ Dogs of Anarchy
  5. ^ Erickson, Hal (1993). Television Cartoon Shows An Illustrated Encyclopedia 1949-1993. McFarland and Company Inc., Publishers. ISBN 0-7864-0029-3.

External linksEdit