Dexter's Laboratory (commonly abbreviated as Dexter's Lab) is an American animated series created by Genndy Tartakovsky and produced by Cartoon Network Studios (also co-produced with Hanna-Barbera in 1996-2001). The show is about a boy named Dexter who has an enormous secret laboratory filled with an endless collection of his inventions. The series premiered in the United States on Cartoon Network on April 28, 1996 and ended on November 20, 2003. As of 2006, Cartoon Network's sister channel Boomerang reruns the show. The show returned to Cartoon Network in reruns on November 8, 2010.
The series initially debuted on The Cartoon Cartoon Show as a cartoon short. Each twenty-two minute episode consists of two to three segments (with the exception of the series finale). Dexter's Laboratory originally ended in 1998, but it was later revived for a movie as well as two more seasons. Dexter's Laboratory is notable for helping launch the careers of several cartoon creators such as Craig McCracken, Seth MacFarlane, Butch Hartman and Rob Renzetti.
The series revolves around Dexter, a nine-year-old boy genius who has a secret laboratory (which he pronounces with a stress on the second syllable) filled with highly advanced equipment hidden behind a bookshelf in his bedroom. Access to this never-ending laboratory is usually achieved by speaking various passwords or by activating hidden switches on his bookcase (such as pulling out a specific book). Dexter is normally in conflict with his ditzy older sister, Dee Dee, who can always mysteriously gain access to his lab no matter what he does to try and keep her out. Dee Dee eludes all manner of security and, once inside, delights in playing in the lab, often destroying his creations. Despite her hyperactive personality, Dee Dee can sometimes make more logical decisions than Dexter, or even give him helpful advice. Dexter, though highly intelligent, often fails at what he has set out to do when he becomes overexcited and makes careless choices. He manages to keep the lab a secret from his clueless, cheerful parents, who amusingly never notice any evidence of the laboratory, even when it is right before their eyes. Dexter also has a Russian accent, despite being from a typical all-American family, although there are also signs in family appearance and behavior that point to a German-Russian-Jewish mixed heritage. This can be supported by evidence such as Dee Dee's blond hair and blue eyes, Dexter's short stature and red hair, coupled with both the strong work ethic of Mother and the copious body hairs of Father.
Dexter has an arch-nemesis, a boy from his school who dubs himself "Mandark". Mandark lives down the block from Dexter and has his own secret laboratory. His schemes are generally evil and are designed to gain power for himself while downplaying or destroying Dexter's accomplishments. Dexter often makes better inventions than Mandark, but Mandark tries to make up for this by stealing Dexter's inventions. Mandark is also in love with Dee Dee, though she prefers to ignore him and never returns his affections. As the series progresses, Mandark's schemes become significantly more evil, his laboratory darker-looking, industrial and angular, in contrast to his original brightly-lit lab which had more rounded features.
Continuity is not a feature of the show, and many episodes are self-contained or leave characters in predicaments that are left unresolved and never referenced afterward; e.g., the entire lab is completely destroyed, the earth is destroyed, Dexter is turned into a sandwich, etc. Most episodes end in disaster because of a flaw in Dexter's logic or in his inventions. Dexter usually fails at what he has set out to do with Dee Dee often besting him.
The shorts occasionally chronicle the adventures of other characters besides Dexter, Dee Dee, and Mandark. Chief among these are Dexter's pet monkey, Monkey (who secretly lives a double life as a crime-fighting super-powered secret agent), and Dexter's favorite superhero, Major Glory. Both of these characters are often associated with a superhero team called The Justice Friends, which includes the superheroes Val Hallen and The Infraggable Krunk.
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