Ryan Dosier – Dog City. The Jim Henson classic film-noir special produced for The Jim Henson Hour is one that yours truly had never seen until a few days ago. This was mostly because it had never been commercially released within my lifetime until last Tuesday, when Lionsgate, the company who has brought us The Song of the Cloud Forest, a stand-alone set of Fraggle Rock season 4, and will bring us Sesame Street: 20 and Still Counting and Henson’s Place later, released the classic special on DVD.
Dog City stars doggy detective Ace Yu (that’s a pun, folks) as he attempts to change “The Dog House,” a bar he inherited from his uncle Harry in Dog City, into a quarter-way house for orphans (that’s another joke). The only problem is merciless doggy gangster Bugsy Them (you see when this starts to get hilarious?) isn’t about to let that happen since he wants all the money the bar brings in. After Ace refuses and insults Bugsy, he vows to get back at Ace. The rest of the special follows Ace and Colleen Barker, a female dog scraping the bottom of the barrel, as they outwit and out-pun Bugsy and his gang.
Now, knowing Lionsgate’s previous track record with DVD releases, I knew I could expect two specific things: an awesome Jim Henson classic and very few, if any, true bonus features. And that’s exactly what I got with Dog City: The Movie. But was it worth the $10 I paid for it? Absolutely.
The first thing that obsessed Muppet fans will notice from the DVD packaging is Rowlf the Dog prominently featured on the cover, implying that his scenes are completely intact in the special. They are, in fact, and he’s awesome throughout. Having Rowlf there is just one of the extremely awesome parts of this special. It also means that Disney’s Muppets Studio was able to play nice with The Jim Henson Company and Lionsgate to allow Rowlf to remain in the special. That’s a very good sign for future Muppet releases.
Dog City itself is a hilarious, fast-paced, puppet masterpiece. The characters are all gorgeously designed and perfectly performed. Ace is Kevin Clash in a fantastic turn while Bugsy is Jim Henson in a voice that he had never used before.The greatest part about the special, however, is the brilliant dialogue. There are more puns about dogs or dog behavior in this special than I’ve seen in all of the bad CGI talking-dog movies of the past ten years combined. Just the “Yu” and “Them” exchange is enough to have you howling with laughter. (See what I did there?)
All in all, this DVD is highly recommended for anyone with a funny bone (that you haven’t already buried in the yard). The only bonus features on here are some concept art for the special, but it doesn’t really matter because the fantastic special seems to outweigh the need for more.
So do yourself a favor and take that ten dollars you’ve got lying around and spend it on a classic, hilarious, and wonderful Jim Henson production!
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier