Monday, January 9, 2017

Tooniversary: Dog City (1992)

While Batman was the crown jewel of Fox's 1992 freshman class for obvious reasons, another world famous name slipped under the radar.

Jim Henson.

The founding father of the Muppets returned to Saturday mornings, aligned with Canada's Nelvana Studios this time, with Dog City, which, in a way, was spun off from the short-lived 1989 NBC series, The Jim Henson Hour, where it had made its debut as a short film.

Blending puppetry with animation had been tried before on Saturday mornings. However, ALF creator Paul Fusco's Spacecats was a gigantic flop for NBC, which, by 1992, had gotten out of the cartoon business, favoring an all-live-action lineup, mostly teen comedies. Fox & Henson felt they had a winning formula, including a show-within-a-show, if you will, that allowed the animated hero, Ace Hart, to interact with his creator, Elliot (Kevin Clash).

Dog City ran for three seasons. As memory serves, it was in and out of Fox's lineup during that span, as they began the practice of shuttling shows in and out to keep things fresh, but never having the courtesy to let viewers know when changes were coming. It would only get worse by the end of the decade. The last original episode rolled out in November 1994, so declining ratings finally did Ace, Elliot, and the gang in.

Let's take a look at a sample episode.



The animation wasn't the best by Nelvana standards. Come to think of it, it did look a little flatter than usual, and these were the same folks who collaborated with WB on Beetlejuice.

No rating. A small sample wasn't enough for a rating.

4 comments:

Christopher Sobieniak said...

The animation wasn't the best by Nelvana standards. Come to think of it, it did look a little flatter than usual, and these were the same folks who collaborated with WB on Beetlejuice.

By this point, Nelvana's TV work was usually sent out to overseas outfits like Korea, for which the animation seen in Dog City was provided by our pals over at Hanho Heung-Up.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanho_Heung-Up
http://www.imdb.com/company/co0078717/

hobbyfan said...

That explains a lot, doesn't it? Seems like everyone was farming work out to the Koreans, but do we see any original works from South Korea? Nope, not that I've seen.

Christopher Sobieniak said...

The real problem is the rather substandard quality of Korean animation at the time. Often many 'original' productions had cribbed certain design elements or plot structures from Japanese shows, especially those involving robots/mecha. There was quite a glut of these Korean animated movies in the 80's that were nothing but copycats of giant robot shows across the sea.

That one studio I brought up earlier, Hanho, produced this one show in particular called "Flying Superboard". While no subtitled copies are up on YouTube, it's fairly obviously it takes its cues from the classic Chinese tale of the Monkey King (usually translated as "Journey to the West"), this was the same story that also inspired Japan's famous series "Dragon Ball".
https://youtu.be/TazRxyOQ5MY

hobbyfan said...

Kinda like Canada and the US, no?