|Premiere||September 19, 1992|
|Finale||January 28, 1995|
Jim Henson's Dog City was a spin-off of the Jim Henson Hour special Dog City. The show included a combination of puppetry and cel animation, and was produced in collaboration between Jim Henson Productions and Canadian animation studio Nelvana, who handled all of the animated segments.
In September 2007, the series was released on Amazon.com Video On Demand.
Dog City centers on Eliot Shag, a Muppet dog and animator, and his cartoon creation Ace Hart, an animated canine private eye. In each episode, Eliot translates his own dilemmas into Ace's more adventurous exploits in the tough, 1940s-style streets of Dog City. The frame sequences featured, in addition to Eliot, his admiring young neighbor Artie Springer, building superintendent Bruno, his assistant Bowser, and girlfriend Colleen Barker. Eliot, Bruno, and Bowser were all refurbished puppets, with new taxidermy eyes, from the original Dog City special, and Colleen recycled the same puppet, name, and voice. The animated segments, meanwhile, maintained the film noir-spoof atmosphere of the original special, with hero Ace Yu now Ace Hart, private eye dog, battling gangster Bugsy Vile (Bugsy Them in the special) and his gang, with the assistance of Eddie the newspup and the help or hindrance of by-the-book Chief Rosie O'Gravy, all of whom had counterparts in the puppet segments. Each episode thus had roughly parallel plots running between the Muppets and the cartoon characters, with creator Eliot and creation Ace engaging in good-natured arguments about the storylines. The animated segments were often overt spoofs of famous gangster or detective films, with titles such as "The Big Squeak" and "The Great Dane Curse."
During the series' second season, a few changes were made. Eliot's costume was updated from an argyle sweater over a striped, long-sleeved shirt to a hipper open Hawaiian shirt over a blue t-shirt. Colleen was dropped, replaced by Artie's mother, Terri Springer, and the occasionally seen Bowser was used more regularly, as was previously one-shot character Ms. Fluffé, the feline landlady.
For the third and final season, Dog City underwent a major format change. The noir and detective spoofs and references were fewer and far between, with more science fiction or situation comedy elements as the main animated plot lines. Those plots were themselves now dissected, as several new short, more overtly slapstick segments were added as rotating elements. These included "Yves and Steven" (in which a security guard dog battles a famed cat burglar), "His Master's Choice Theater" (a Masterpiece Theater spoof hosted by Bugsy from his prison cell), "Quality Time with Rosie and Dot" (in which Rosie O'Gravy was joined by her niece, Dot), "The Adventures of Mister Moogie" (animated segments starring Mr. Moogie, Artie's squeaky toy previously seen as a prop), and "The Woof Pack," a superhero spoof starring The Watch Dog, a guest character from season 2 created as a take-off of Alan Moore's Watchmen. The third season was shorter than the previous two, and the series was canceled by Fox in January, but continued to air on YTV in Canada for several years.
Behind the Scenes
During the first season, veteran Muppet performer Kathryn Mullen served as a voice coach for the Canadian voice cast who played the cartoon characters, while the Muppet performers included hold-overs from the original special such as Kevin Clash and Fran Brill.
Over the course of its three year run, Dog City was recognized by the Gemini Awards (Canada's equivalent of the Emmy Awards), receiving Best Children's Television programming for 1993-1994, nominations in that category for 1994-1995 and 1995-1996, and a nomination for best writing in the 1994-1995 awards.
Animation Voice Cast
- Ron White as Ace Hart
- Stuart Stone as Eddie
- Elizabeth Hanna as Rosie O'Gravy
- John Stocker as Bugsy Vile, Spunky the Flunky
- James Rankin as Frisky
- Stephen Ouimette as Mad Dog, Baron Von Rottweiler, Mayor Kickbark, and others
- Howard Jerome as Bruiser
- Paulina Gillis as Kitty
- George Buza as Steven
- Rino Romano as Yves
- Tara Strong as Dot
- Kevin Clash as Eliot Shag
- Joey Mazzarino as Artie Springer
- Fran Brill as Terri Springer and Colleen Barker
- Brian Muehl as Bruno
- David Rudman as Bowser
- Lisa Buckley as Ms. Fluffé
- With: Martin P. Robinson, Don Reardon (Assistant Puppeteer for Eliot Shag), Jim Martin, Noel MacNeal, Carmen Osbahr
- Director: John Van Bruggen
- Assistant Directors: Dave Pemberton, Steve Whitehouse
- Producers: Stephen Hodgins (season 1), Merle Anne Ridley (season 2 onward)
- Story Editors: Peter Sauder (season 1 only), J. D. Smith,
- Casting and Voice Director: Jessie Thomson
- Voice Coach: Kathryn Mullen (season 1)
- Background Design: Clive Powsey
- Design Supervisor: Doug Thomas
- Designers: Charles E. Bastien, Jens Pindal, Leif Norheim, Kevin Fraser, Scott Bennett
- Layout Supervisor: Lyndon Ruddy
- For Jim Henson Productions: Jim Lewis, Ritamarie Peruggi (season 1), David Gumpel, Pat Nugent, Katherleen Davis (season 2-3)
- Production Designer: Lyndon Mosse
- Muppet Workshop: Rollin Krewson
- Production Coordinator: Jennie Lupinacci
- Puppet Coordinator: Kevin Clash
- Theme Music: Phil Balsam