Dexter's Laboratory (1996 - 2003)
Dexter's Laboratory is a children animated television series of science fiction and comedy created by Genndy Tartakovsky for Cartoon Network. The series revolves around Dexter, a red-haired genius boy with a secret laboratory filled with a collection of his inventions. Dexter is sometimes constantly in conflict with his scandalous but friendly sister Dee Dee, who always manages to enter his laboratory despite his efforts to keep her out of it, as well as Mandark (Brain in Latin America) his arch-rival. The first two seasons of the series contain two additional segments: Dial M For Monkey, which focuses on the monkey superhero of Dexter and Friends of Justice, which is about a trio of superheroes living in the same apartment.
At first, Tartakovsky started running the series in the animated short segment What a Cartoon! Hannah-Barbera, based on the films he produced when he was a student at the California Institute of the Arts. Four short films were created and broadcast on Cartoon Network in 1995 and 1996, before audience levels convinced the company to create a 13-episode season, which aired on April 28, 1996. By 1999, the series is already It had 52 episodes and a movie. That was when Tartakovsky left the series to start working on other projects, such as Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars. In 2001, Cartoon Network revived the series with a different production team in Cartoon Network Studios and after 26 more episodes, the series formally came to an end on November 21, 2003.
The Dexter Laboratory received high levels of audience, and became one of the most successful and popular Cartoon Network series. During its broadcast, the series was nominated for 4 Primetime Emmy awards, 4 Golden Reel and 9 Annie awards, winning 3 of the latter. The series is famous for having helped boost the careers of several cartoonists, such as Craig McCracken, Seth MacFarlane, Butch Hartman, and Rob Renzetti.
Dexter is a 10-year-old red-haired scientist with glasses (folded first for Spanish America by Luis Alfonso Mendoza and then by Yamil Atala, and in Spain by Sara Vivas), he has a secret laboratory where he keeps all his experiments, which he accesses pronouncing various passwords or activating hidden switches on a bookcase, which is really a door. On many occasions he accesses his laboratory by pressing a button inside a special book, and sometimes identifying himself by means of a retinal reader or voice identification.
Dexter is almost always in conflict with his nasty and hateful sister Dee Dee, who loves to invade his brother's lab and ruin his creations. The inexplicable is how Dee Dee is always able to enter. Many of the episodes revolve around this theme.
Dexter: Main character of the series. He is a genius redhead boy with glasses and 10 years old. He is the creator and owner of the secret laboratory where he develops impressive experiments and inventions, but he is always interrupted by Dee Dee, his annoying and mischievous older sister, but who nevertheless loves her very much in most of the chapters, always his sister gets into his laboratory where he makes great pranks.
Dee Dee: She is Dexter's older sister. She is a 12-year-old blonde girl, she is nice, affectionate, energetic, capricious and in a very good mood, but scandalous, naughty and unbearable for Dexter because she usually looks for (and easily finds) a way to being with his brother He is curious about the laboratory and almost always ends up ruining some invention or section of it. She loves ballet, unicorns, ponies and is wearing a pink tutu, Dexter always tries to catch her to leave her outside her laboratory, but always escapes, teases or cheats on Dexter.
Susan "Mandark" Astronomanov (Brain in Latin America): He is a boy with glasses, villain and is 12 years old, the supreme rival of Dexter. He usually tries to control his laboratory or destroy it. He is in love with Dee-Dee, but that is why he is no longer a rival to his brother. He is ashamed of his real name, Susan, imposed by his hippie parents. From the 3rd season, he becomes a genius to a sinister and crazy boy who is characterized by having a peculiar and evil laugh "Haa-haha, Haa-haha-haha!".
Dad: Father of Dexter and Dee-Dee. He is a good man who always greatly appreciates his two children but does not stand out for his mental abilities. He has sometimes been seen acting in the same way as Dee-Dee: ruining Mom's good work in the kitchen. He is also addicted to pancakes and is fond of television shows. Dexter is ashamed of him. In one chapter he did not inform him of the day in which they celebrated "the day of professions" at school, being supplanted by another person who claims to be a nuclear scientist. Dad realizes, arrives at school and pretends to be a motorcyclist. Finally he reveals that he is really a scientist.
Mom: Mother of Dexter and Dee-Dee. She is a sociable, supportive woman and very intelligent housewife. Dexter inherited several of his features, such as hair color and the custom of wearing gloves, although of different colors. He has been seen acting in the same way as Dexter: making each of his recipes with great care and dedication. He has a phobia of dirt and germs, which is why he always wears yellow gloves and a white apron.
- Computer: Laboratory main computer capable of listening, thinking and speaking to help Dexter in his problems. She has a female voice and Dexter calls her "my love".
- Bear of the wind: Father of Brain. It is a very cultured and wise hippie.
- Seabird: Mother of Brain. It is also hippie, she is fine and delicate.
- Doo-Doo: Brother of Dexter, obtained from a transformation from Dee-Dee to masculine. He is abusive and athletic.
- Pobry: He appeared in a single episode, in which he is observed inside a trash can.
- Mee-Mee: A friend of Dee-Dee. She is an African-American girl, and always wears a purple tutu. In the episode The Girls' Tribe she asked Dexter one of the questions in the eleven-year-old magazine questionnaire and he made pantomimes.
- Lee-Lee: Another friend of Dee-Dee. It has oriental features and uses a green tutu. She is secretly in love with Dexter and considers it attractive, she behaves the same way as Dee-Dee.
- Koosalagoopagoop: Also called Koosy. He is an imaginary friend of Dee-Dee who first appears in Dexter's laboratory. He lives in the land of Koos, of which he claimed to be the king, but it was a lie.
- Action Hank: It is a gallant action hero that Dexter idolizes, along with Albert Einstein and the Greater America, of "The Friends of Justice". He has an impenetrable beard.
- Douglas E. Mordechai: One of Dexter's smartest friends.
- Doug: Another of Dexter's friends. He has only been seen in the episode Journey to the Stars: Unconventional!
- Lalavava: Younger sister of Mandark and rival of Dee-Dee. It is fine, sophisticated and threatening. Share several aspects with Dee-Dee. It is only seen in the episode La Rival de Dee-Dee. He is short, while Mandark is taller and thinner, similar to the case of Dexter and Dee-Dee. His real name is Olga.
- Isaiah: Dexter's dark friend.
- Beau: Dee Dee's ex-boyfriend and Dexter's friend.
The Justice Friends
The Justice Friends (Friends of justice in Spain and Latin America) is the trio of favorite superheroes Dexter (parody of the Avengers and the Super Friends), who try to face the biggest challenge: to survive everyday life together, in an apartment. In some episodes of Dexter's Laboratory, they have their own skits (most of these are only from the 1st season). Even in one, they make a crossover with Dial M for Monkey, although this is considered the last short, and in another, they are crossed with the favorite cartoon of Dee-Dee, Mitch and Clem, which also appear in The Powerpuff Girls.
Dial M for Monkey
This segment also included its own sketches (most of these are only from the 1st season). Only one is broadcast in season 2. This is "Monkey", Dexter's caged ape, who is actually a superhero, and always has the help of his always awkward friend, Agent Honeydew. Monkey's arch nemesis is "Quack" Mandark's super-duck.
The series was originally inspired by a drawing by the creator Genndy Tartakovsky depicting a tall thin girl dressed as a ballet dancer, who would be Dee Dee. Genndy later decide to accompany this with a low graphically character shaped block and it was opposed to it, that would be Dexter, who was inspired by Tartakovsky's older brother, Alex. After enrolling at the California Institute of the Arts in 1990 to study animation, Tartakovsky wrote, directed, encouraged, and produced two short films that would become the basis of the series.
Dexter's lab then became a seven-minute pilot as part of the Cartoon Network project, What a Cartoon!, which was promoted as World Premiere Toons, and which was released on February 26, 1995. Viewers around the world voted through telephone lines, Internet, groups and consumer promotions to choose their favorite cartoon shorts. The first of the 16 animated shorts to win that vote of approval was Dexter's Laboratory. Mike Lazzo, the then network programming director, said he was his favorite of the 48 shorts, commenting "We all loved the humor of the brother-sister relationship". In August 1995, Turner ordered six half-hour chapters of the series, which would include two cartoons around a spin-off of the segment titled Dial M for Monkey.
Dexter's laboratory premiered as a half-hour series on TNT on April 27, 1996, and on April 28 of the same year on Cartoon Network and TBS Superstation. The series, together with Cow & Chicken, Johnny Bravo, The Powerpuff Girls and Courage the Cowardly Dog, became responsible for giving a push to Cartoon Network to be part of the focus on the original and innovative programming, something that continues today in day in the canal.
Dexter's laboratory ended its original term in 1998 after two seasons, where the first season had 13 episodes, while the second season had 39 episodes, a remarkable record for a television production by Cartoon Network Studios. The end of the series was "Last But Not Beast", but this episode had the difference that it differed from the format of the other episodes, in which it was a collection of animated shorts (from 8 to 13 minutes), and this was a single episode of 25 minutes.
In 1999, Tartakovsky returned to direct Dexter's Laboratory: Ego Trip, a television movie lasting one hour. This was the last production of Dexter's lab where Tartakovsky was involved, and that was meant to be the conclusion to the series. The special was animated by hand, although the character designs and the environment were subtly reviewed. The plot follows Dexter in a quest through time where he finds out about his future triumphs.
After the series ended, Tartakovsky began working on his new projects, Samurai Jack from 2001 to 2004, and Star Wars: Clone Wars from 2003 to 2005. His companions from What a Cartoon! MacFarlane and Hartman, had left Time Warner completely at this point, focusing on Family Guy and The Magic Godparents, respectively.
On February 21, 2001, Cartoon Network announced that Dexter's lab had been revived for a third season of 13 episodes. The series was given a new production team from Cartoon Network Studios, with Chris Savino taking over as creative director, in the absence of Tartakovsky. Later, in the fourth season, Savino was also promoted to producer giving him more control over the show and the budget.
Christine Cavanaugh voiced Dexter for the first two seasons and first episodes of the third, but retired from voice acting in 2001 for personal reasons. That is why he was replaced by Candi Milo.
Allison Moore, a friend from Tartakovsky University, was chosen as Dee Dee. She left the show after the first season, because she was no longer interested in voice acting. The role was subsequently given to Kathryn Cressida. In the third season, Moore briefly returned as the voice of Dee Dee once before Cressida assumed the role for the fourth season.
The series was animated in a stylized manner, Tartakovsky says he was influenced by Merrie Melodies with the cartoon The Dover Boys at Pimento University. Dexter's laboratory, however, was made in a cinematic way by enlarging the image, instead of being flat, leaving space and depth for gags and actions. Tartakovsky was also influenced by other cartoons such as Warner Bros., Hanna-Barbera, the anime where the use of wicks (ie robots) and the short films made by UPA are made.
Tartakovsky has said that Dexter's character was designed "as simple as possible", since his body is small, square and plump, surrounded with a thick black outline and relatively small physical details. Since he knew that he was designing the show for television, he deliberately decided to limit the design intentionally in the design of the characters at some level, initially with his nose and mouth, and then with a simple animation style similar to of Hanna-Barbera.
There was an episode entitled "Rude Removal" (Rudeness Eliminator/Rudeness Remover), which involves Dexter, who had created a "rudeness removal system" to decrease Dee Dee's rudeness, however, instead create highly rude clones of both brothers. The episode is shown only during certain animation festivals and never aired on Cartoon Network due to the character's way of being, even though the bad words were censored and because the title card showed Dee Dee raising the middle finger of the hand up and Dexter openly showing his butt. Tartakovsky commented that "The superiors did not like it". Linda Simensky, president of the original programming for Cartoon Network, then Vice President, said: "I still think it's very funny, it would probably be advisable to issue it in the evening". Fred Seibert, president of Hanna-Barbera Cartoons during 1992-1996, has witnessed the existence of the episode.
In October 2012, Genndy Tartakovsky was asked about the episode during an AMA in Reddit, and he replied: "The next time I make a public appearance I will bring it with me!" Adult Swim viewers subsequently asked on Twitter if there was still interest in the episode, and the response was "overwhelming". The episode was finally uploaded to YouTube and AdultSwim.com on January 22, 2013, but was removed after a few days. This episode was rated TV-14-L by language.
Six video games inspired by the series have also been marketed:
- Dexter's Laboratory: Robot Rampage for Game Boy Color.
- Dexter's Laboratory: Chess Challenge for Game Boy Advance.
- Dexter's Laboratory: Deesaster Strikes!, also for the Game Boy Advance.
- Dexter's Laboratory: Mandark's Lab? for PlayStation.
- Dexter's Laboratory: Science Ain't Fair for PC.
- Dexter's Laboratory: Security Alert! for cell phones.
Many of the characters in the series are also included in the videogames Cartoon Network Racing and Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion.
An action video game of the series was going to be released for the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube in 2004, but it was canceled. On February 15, 2005, Midway Games had announced plans to develop and produce a new series game for multiple consoles, but the game never saw the light of day.
Since its debut, Dexter's laboratory has been one of the most successful original Cartoon Network series, being the largest audience in the network in 1996 and 1997. Internationally, the series received a special mention of the best screenplay in 1997 in the Cartoons on the bay festival in Italy. In 1998 and 1999, a Dexter balloon was presented at the Thanksgiving Day parade. The program was also part of the reason for the 20% increase in audience ratings on Cartoon Network during the summer of 1999.
The transmission of the series on July 7, 2000 was the one with the highest audience in the all-time network transmission between households (3.1), children aged 2 to 11 years (7.8 audience), and children from 6 to 11 years (8.4 audience), with a delivery of almost 2 million homes watching the program.
On July 31, 2001, the highest household rating (2.9) and the delivery (2,166,000 homes) of any Cartoon Network television broadcast for that year were obtained. Dexter's laboratory was also one of the original programs of the highest screen share network in 2002.
One of the favorite animated shows of the then president of Cartoon Network, Betty Cohen, was Dexter's Lab. Rapper Coolio has also said that he is a fan of the series and was willing to make a song for the soundtrack, at the request of Cartoon Network, declaring: "I can watch a lot of cartoons because I have children. In fact, I've watched more cartoons than movies".
In a top 10 list by Entertainment Weekly in 2012, Dexter's lab was ranked the fourth best Cartoon Network show. In 2009, Dexter's Laboratory was named by IGN as the best animation in 72nd place.