Dog City was an animated/Muppet series based on a half-hour segment in The Jim Henson Hour. The original "Dog City" was about an anthropomorphic German Shepherd named Ace Yu, facing bulldog gangster Bugsy Them (the Dogfather) in a film noir environment. The segment was just recently released on DVD from Lionsgate, excluding the Jim Henson Hour part.In the series, Ace became private eye Ace Hart, and Bugsy became Bugsy Vile. They also became cartoon characters, with the original puppet versions becoming Eliot Shag, the cartoonist, and Bruno, the super of his apartment building. Other characters from the special were transplanted similarly; the character appeared in the cartoon, and the puppet appeared as someone in Eliot's building, supposedly inspiring him to create the animated version. Ace and Eliot would also have conversations with each other about the progress of the stories and how Eliot uses what he draws in the cartoon to solve problems in his real life.
Dog City included examples of:
Binocular Shot (Parodied. From the POV of villain Bugsy Them, we see the two leads through two overlapping circles. Then the camera cuts to a wide shot to reveal that Bugsy isn't looking through binoculars — he's just holding up a piece of cardboard with two overlapping holes and looking through it.)
Punny Name (Rowlf even Lampshades the names of Ace Yu and Bugsy Them as 'Cheap joke names')
Rhetorical Question Blunder: When Ace arrives for the first time in the Doghouse, he tries to pull something (actually his act of property) out of his jacket. This causes every customer around to raise a gun, and the following exchange follows:
Ace: "Eeeeeh, come on! Do I look dumb enough to pull out a gun in a place like this?" (The customers look at each others for a few seconds, then all nod) Alright, alright! Ask a stupid question...
Running Gag (Amounts of time being translated into dog years)
The Ace: Deconstructed in an episode where a sleepy Elliot dreamily inserts himself into the cartoon. The animated version of Elliot then promptly goes on to solve the case, beat the bad guys, and scores points with Rosie without any effort. This ultimately just pisses Ace Hart off and drives a wedge between he and his friend and creator.
Adults Dressed as Children: In one episode, Bugsy hired a gangster who looked like a puppy named Puppyface Halfnelson to help with a bank heist.
And You Were There: Almost; the animated characters are counterparts to the Muppet characters, but have different voice actors)
Aroused by Their Voice: In the episode "Springer Fever", Eliot flip-flops Rosie's characterization between a more critical version of her by-the-book cop persona and a new persona where she's outwardly trying to seduce Ace with a huskier tone due to basing her off his new Love Interest Terri Springer. This is naturally lampshaded.
Ace: Make up your mind, will ya! Is Rosie gonna be screamy or dreamy?
Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: In one episode, Bugsy enters a series of games and has his henchmen get rid of his adversaries so he'll win by default. When one henchman points out that the adversaries are too unfit to challenge him anyway, he explains that he doesn't want to sweat. Ace foils the plan by entering the competition.
Did Not Get the Girl: Elliot insists that this has to be the case for all lone wolf Film Noir detective characters, though it doesn't stop Ace from trying to avert this trope.
Dogs Are Dumb: Played straight with Bruiser; averted with Mad Dog, who is shown to be intelligent and articulate, quoting the Bard and Mark Twain... but only after being clocked over the head. Usually, though, he plays The Unintelligible.)
It's only through sheer luck Steve keeps anything he guards safe from Yves.
Executive Meddling: Done in-universe, especially in "Ya Gotta Have Hart." First, Elliot's boss wants the show to be retooled from a Film Noir detective series to a stylish "Beverly Hills cop" show. Later in that same episode, he tries making an Ace Hart film for a French director who turns it into a surreal fantasy, and then attempts a comic book, only for the execs to turn Ace into a superhero.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: After falling head over heels for Terri, Eliot starts getting rather...excited with Rosie's characterization which turns her into a Tsundere-like character. She shifts between criticizing and trying to seduce Ace, much to the private eye's chagrin. Ace declares that Eliot needs "a little cooling off" and manages, by slamming a hammer in the cartoon world, to shake the desk enough that a glass of ice water falls onto Eliot's crotch. Works like a charm.
Internal Reveal: In episode Old Dogs, New Tricks, the cartoonists Eliot Shag and Scratch McCollie fight on whether or not to use this trope. As it pertains to a Show Within a Show, it's a bit late to cover up that plot point from the audience.
Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Are Ace and Eliot actually having fourth-wall breaking conversations, or is it all entirely in Eliot's head? On one hand, Eliot is the only one Ace is ever shown talking to. On the other hand, you have cases like the Getting Crap Past the Radar example above where Ace is somehow able to shake the desk despite being a two-dimensional character outside the show's real world.
McGuffin: The "Yves and Steve" segments were about a literal cat burglar (Yves) trying to steal Mc Guffins guarded by a literal guard dog (Steve).
Politicians Kiss Babies: In an episode, Dogfather Bugsy Vile rigs a mayoral election and wins with just five votes. Among his duties are kissing babies and christening a ship with champagne bottle. Hilarity ensues when he gets the two just a little mixed up....
Rivals Team Up: One episode forced Ace and Bugsy to work together against Meat the Butcher.
Rogues Gallery: A small one. Bugsy Vile and his gang, Miss Kitty, Baron von Rottweiler and Leon, and Meat the Butcher.
Rubber-Band History: Baron goes back to the time the pilgrims purchased the new world from the natives and made a better offer: squeak toys. This created a Bad Future where he rules. Somehow, Ace and Eddie had Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory and, after visiting a timeline where Eddie ruled, went back to the past and made an even better offer: a technologically advanced (even for present time standards) fire hydrant the heroes took from the Eddie-ruled timeline.
Say My Name: One Running Gag involves Ace screaming Eliot's name whenever Eliot animates him into a predicament.
The Scrappy: Eddie the newspup got turned into one in-universe for one episode, and then he was literally Rescued from the Scrappy Heap. Whether he actually was a scrappy for the audience is a different story.
Self Insert: Elliot did this once. He then made his character an even better detective than Ace who even attracted attention from Rosie. Ace was not amused.
Sexophone: Given that the animated segments are parodies of classic detective stories and Film Noir, one would occasionally play for Rosie O'Gravy (specifically whenever Ace would think of her in his narrations).
Species Surname (most characters apart from Ace and Bugsy had vaguely dog [or cat] related names)
Suspiciously Similar Substitute (Terri Springer replaced Colleen as Eliot's love interest. Suprisingly, she was voiced by the same actress, the writers just thought she'd be a more interesting character)