Dexter's Laboratory is an animated television series created by Genndy Tartakovsky for Cartoon Network and distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. The series follows the adventures of Dexter, a boy genius with a scientific laboratory hidden in his room full of inventions, which he keeps secret from his parents, who are called only "mom" and "dad". Dexter is at constant odds with her outgoing older sister Dee Dee, who always gains access to the lab and inadvertently foils his experiments. Dexter has a bitter rivalry with his neighbor and classmate Mandark, a nefarious boy-genius who attempts to undermine Dexter at every opportunity. Featured in the first and second seasons are other character-focused segments based on the superheroes Monkey, Dexter's lab monkey/superhero pet, and the Justice Friends, a trio of superheroes who share an apartment.
Tartakovsky presented the series at the first Fred Seibert animated shorts showcase What a Cartoon! to Hanna-Barbera, basing it on student films he produced at the California Institute of the Arts. Four pilot episodes aired on Cartoon Network and TNT from 1995 to 1996. Viewer approval ratings led to a half-hour series, which consisted of two seasons totaling 52 episodes, airing from April 27, 1996 to June 15, 1998. On December 10, 1999, a television movie titled Dexter's Laboratory: Ego Trip aired as the planned series finale, and Tartakovsky left to begin work on Samurai Jack.
In November 2000, the series was renewed for two seasons containing 26 total episodes, which began airing on November 18, 2001 and concluded on November 20, 2003. Due to Tartakovsky's departure, the last two seasons starred Chris Savino as showrunner alongside a new production team at Cartoon Network Studios with changes made to the visual arts style and character designs.
Dexter's Laboratory has won three Annie Awards, with nominations for four Primetime Emmy Awards, four Golden Reel Awards, and nine other Annie Awards. The series is notable for helping launch the careers of animators Craig McCracken, Seth MacFarlane, Butch Hartman, Paul Rudish and Rob Renzetti. Spin-off media include children's books, comics, DVD and VHS releases, music albums, toys, and video games.
Dexter is a bespectacled boy-genius who, behind a bookcase in his bedroom, hides a secret laboratory, which can be accessed via voice passwords or hidden switches. on his library. Though highly intelligent, Dexter often fails to achieve his goals when he becomes overexcited and inattentive.
Dexter hides his lab from his clueless parents, called only Mom (voiced by Kath Soucie) and Dad (voiced by Jeff Bennett), who never notice. His hyperactive and generous older sister Dee Dee enjoys playing haphazardly in the lab, wreaking havoc with Dexter's inventions. Though seemingly narrow-minded, Dee Dee, who is also a talented dancer, can outwit her brother and even give him useful advice. For her part, Dexter, though annoyed by her pushy brother, has a grudging affection for her and will come to her defense if he is in danger.
Dexter's nemesis is rival classmate Mandark Astronomonov (voiced by Eddie Deezen). Like Dexter, Mandark is a genius boy with his own lab, but his plans are generally evil and designed to gain power or minimize or destroy Dexter's achievements. In the revival seasons, Mandark becomes significantly more evil, becoming Dexter's enemy rather than his rival, and Mandark's laboratory changes from bright with rounded features to gothic, industrial, and angular in appearance. Dexter's inventions are objectively better than his own and Mandark tries to compensate by stealing Dexter's plans. Mandark's weakness is his unrequited love for Dee Dee.
Genndy Tartakovsky, the creator of Dexter's Laboratory, was born in Moscow, where his father, a dentist, served in the government of the Soviet Union. Though relatively wealthy and well-connected, his family feared racial persecution due to their Jewish heritage and moved to the United States when Tartakovsky was seven. Along with his older brother, Alex, Tartakovsky taught himself how to draw by copying comics.
After transferring from Columbia College Chicago to the California Institute of the Arts in 1990 to study animation, Tartakovsky wrote, directed, animated and produced two student short films, one of which was a precursor to the Dexter's Laboratory television pilot, " Changes”. Described as a two and a half minute pencil test, this short was included in a college screening for the producers of Batman: The Animated Series, who were impressed and hired Tartakovsky.
Later, Tartakovsky joined the production team of 2 Stupid Dogs. His collaborators on that series, Craig McCracken, Rob Renzetti, Paul Rudish and Lou Romano, had been his classmates at Cal Arts and continued to collaborate with him on Dexter's Laboratory. Tartakovsky's last job before developing Dexter's Laboratory into a television series was to serve as a sheet timer on The Critic. During his time on that series, Tartakovsky received a call from Larry Huber, who had been a producer on 2 Stupid Dogs. Huber had shown Tartakovsky's unfinished student film to a fledgling Cartoon Network and wanted Tartakovsky to develop the concept into a seven-minute storyboard.
Dissatisfied with his position on The Critic, Tartakovsky accepted Huber's proposition, and the resulting project, "Changes," was produced as part of Cartoon Network's World Premiere cartoon series Toons, which premiered on February 26, 1995. Viewers from around the world voted through hotlines, websites, focus groups and consumer promotions for their favorite short films; Dexter's lab was the first of 16 to get that approval rating. Mike Lazzo, then head of programming for Cartoon Network, said in 1996 that it was his favorite of the 48 shorts that had been produced to that point, commenting that he and his colleagues "loved the humor in the brother-versus-sister relationship."
Even after the premiere of “Changes” Tartakovsky did not expect that it would lead to a whole series. In 2018, she noted that her generation was the first where people could become showrunners at a young age, saying, "Everyone before us was in their 2002s or older, and so it was a very different way to do something where we didn't We had no idea what we were doing and we were just trying to make each other laugh." When Dexter's Laboratory was greenlit for a series, Tartakovsky became, at the age of twenty-seven, one of the youngest animation directors of that era. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times in XNUMX, Tartakovsky noted about the network: “With Cartoon Network, they were looking for more unknown talent, people who may have had a hard time breaking into. It has become a great opportunity to do something. And as I walked in, I realized they also offered creative freedom. They were letting the creators make the shows.”
Tartakovsky's former classmates McCracken and Rudish helped him design "Changes". Soon after, Tartakovsky helped McCracken create his short film for World Premiere Toons/What a Cartoon! , which would eventually become the basis for The Powerpuff Girls . After finishing McCracken's project, the group moved on to a second short for Dexter's Laboratory, titled "The Big Sister." At the time, Tartakovsky wasn't yet anticipating a series of greenlights for Dexter's Laboratory. He went on to recall that, in those days, he was simply having fun working on short films with his friends. Tartakovsky and McCracken, who had been roommates shortly after college, became regular collaborators on each other's series. Animation historian David Perlmutter has noted a symbiosis between the two men, which he says has led to stylistic similarities between Dexter's Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls.
In August 1995, Turner ordered six half-hours of Dexter's Laboratory, which included two cartoons from a spin-off segment titled Dial M for Monkey. In addition to Tartakovsky, McCracken, Renzetti, and Rudish, directors and writers of Dexter's Laboratory included Seth MacFarlane, Butch Hartman, John McIntyre, and Chris Savino. McCracken also served as art director on the series. Perlmutter described McCracken's role in Dexter's Laboratory as that of Tartakovsky's "actual second-in-command".
Original title Dexter's Laboratory
Original language English
Country United States
Author Genndy Tartakovsky
Regia Genndy Tartakovsky, Rob Renzetti, Chris Savino, Don Judge
Studio Cartoon Network Studios (2001-2003), Hanna Barbera (1996-1999)
Network cartoon network
Date 1st TV April 27, 1996 – November 20, 2003
Episodes 78 (complete)
Episode duration 22 min
Italian network TELE+1 (st. 1), Italia 1 (st. 2), Cartoon Network (st. 3-4)
Date 1st Italian TV April 5, 1997 – 2004
Italian episodes 78 (complete)
Italian dialogues Alfredo Danti, Maria Teresa Letizia, Sergio Romanò (ed. Mediaset)
Double studio it. CVD (ed. Telepiù), Merak Film (ed. Mediaset)
Double Dir. it. Marcello Cortese, Paolo Torrisi (ed. Mediaset)
Gender comedy, science fiction