Dexter’s Laboratory (1996-2003)
This is yet another cartoon that I discovered when I began to watch Cartoon Network in the late-90s, which was packed full of creative shows. It really did take me a while to come to terms with the fact that I now had access to a 24-hour TV channel that only showed cartoons, it was so great to be able to watch them all day, and this was another of the highlights.
Dexter’s Laboratory was a cartoon with a science-fiction twist that was all about the adventures of a boy who was an inventor and something of a scientific genius. He has a special secret laboratory that is underneath his bedroom, where he invents all kinds of things. His parents are unaware of this, however, his sister Dee Dee knows all about it (I don’t know how she got access to the secret password), and often interferes with his ideas which causes chaos.
Dexter had ginger hair, glasses, and a rather bizarre accent (and either he was tiny or Dee Dee was huge). He is always trying to work on experiments, and some of them are rather ambitious and doomed to failure, but he always has a go. This means that all kinds of things can happen, such as inventing robots, doing strange things with brains, or suddenly going back in time, and this is all usually before breakfast.
But of course, there always has to be some tension added into the show from somewhere, so Dexter has a similar-looking rival called Mandark who is also his next-door neighbour. Now he considers himself to be something of a genius too, and he isn’t modest about it at all. He often thinks that he can easily match anything that Dexter comes up with, and this causes a lot of trouble when they attend school together. It is also rather clear that Mandark is somewhat fond of Dee Dee.
There were 78 episodes of Dexter’s Laboratory in four series. Every episode usually featured three stories that ran for about eight minutes each. Along with Dexter’s antics, in the early series there were a couple of segments featuring other characters that were Dial M For Monkey and The Justice Friends, all about a group of superheroes that lived together.
This was yet another show that managed to stand out with a distinctive look and was packed with ideas on a channel that was full of them. Dexter’s Laboratory was one of the more successful shows on Cartoon Network from this era, and it later went on to be shown on CITV. As always, there were lots of episodes released on VHS and DVD, and other merchandise included a few books and games.