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Dexter's Laboratory is a cartoon that was created and produced by Genndy Tartakovsky. It was considered as a "Cartoon Cartoon" when it originally aired when Hanna-Barbera productions ended and turned itself into Warner Brothers and Cartoon Network Studios. Cartoon Network had aired classic cartoons from Hanna-Barbera, Ruby-Spears, and Chuck Jones while giving the opportunity for new animators to present their cartoons to be aired on that station.
It began as an intentional unaired cartoon called "Dexter's Rude Removal" which was about a young boy that was a scientist and his older sister kept causing problems and not seeming to care about Dexter's work. He tries to obliterate this personality within Dee Dee, but his invention malfunctions and results in Dee Dee being split into two. One Dee Dee has an extreme polite and pleasant personality of the original (and is said to have a British accent), while the other Dee Dee is the darker side of the original, which is severely profane and causes even more destruction. This type of practice occurs in other series such as "The Secret World Of Alex Mack".
Later it began airing episodes as "World Premiere Toons", a.k.a. "What A Cartoon", a.k.a. "The Cartoon Cartoon Show", which is one series of many that airs then-unsold pilots of series that has a very narrow opportunity to be produced by Cartoon Network. It is similar to other shows such as "Oh, Yeah! Cartoons", and "Love, American Style", etc.
After that, it got a season on Cartoon Network, which is very similar to the original pilots that aired on the series. The opening and closing theme are both classical (but not stereotypical so it is not as easily recognized) and show Dee Dee prancing about and waltzing from her bedroom to his bedroom which has numerous signs that warn unwanted people to keep out. Dee Dee does not pay any attention to these signs and goes in anyways. She goes into Dexter's lab and takes the usual thing that he works on, which some small device where he tightens with a wrench. It is the same size, but what Dexter has invented is a remote control. Dexter chases her, and then gets the device and tries to use it, and does not know how. Dee Dee fixes it by plugging in the object that the remote is programmed for. It is a sign that says the Title of the series. In the first season only it has a crude version of the title which is a yellow sign with only a Created By credit. The closing is the same thing as "What A Cartoon, etc." but with the Dexter's laboratory closing theme song and different and various clips of the first few episodes. The distributed by credit is Dee Dee bouncing around in a robot, with Dexter destroying a wall by walking through it in another robot looking for Dee Dee.
The next season has several more updates, some of which continue through the rest of the episodes. The beginning is the identical except for the title at the end of the segment, which is green, the letters are a different font, and there is a Produced And Created By credit added. There is also a new "The End" at the end of the episodes. It is green now and was yellow before. The closing credits are not scrolling this time. They are just slides with a static purple-ish background of Dexter and Dee Dee. The distributed by credit is the popular oval Hanna-Barbera logo with a cursive font and various characters (usually Fred Flintstone or Johnny Quest), but this time has Dexter in it.
There was a revival afterwards with Genndy Tartakovsky only as the Executive Producer, and had already started another series called "Samurai Jack". He says one of the advantages of his new series is that it has an update in character designs as well as animation by computers. It was also outline free, which is popular among basically drawn cartoons to have extremely thick outlines, and with Home Movies and Ed, Edd, and Eddy to have shakey outlines. (and of course for basically drawn cartoons to have just four fingers on each hand and four toes on each foot) Dexter's Laboratory received a similar update in its character designs. The episodes were produced by Chris Savino. The "The End" at the end of each episode is now a green colored stereotypical computer type of font. The ending credits are the same thing, and still continue to have the same closing theme song but with a black background and similar text for the credits. The distributed by credit is from Cartoon Network Studios with Dee Dee pressing a button that explodes all over Dexter.
The final version of Dexter's Laboratory has a few more updates. The openings of each cartoon short was the same as the new "The End" part, so this time it was more detailed and artistic. For example the episode "It' Tuber Time" has a background filled with potatoes. Don Judge joins the production staff.
This series is about an unnamed family that lives in a suburban city. Their last names are unknown and their place of employment is unknown. The roles in the family is similar to Calvin and Hobbes, where the parents live in a growing suburb, the names of the parents are unknown, the last name is unknown, their place of employment is unknown, both of the mothers have similar hair styles because their hair is down and combed over their ears (although Calvin's mom has slightly longer hair), the parents play stereotypical roles in the household, and the parents are unaware of the child's secret world (although in Calvin's case it is mostly imaginary and he does not have a sister... but he does have a neighbor that he resents although she does not have Dee Dee's personality). The father and husband has blonde hair and wears glasses and is slightly naïve and sometimes irritable. The mother and wife has red hair and always wears an apron and yellow gloves. She spends each day cooking and cleaning and has an enormous fear of germs and messes. It is unlikely that she works because she is constantly assisting her family in simple tasks that they could to themselves. Dexter is the youngest member of the family but has been diagnosed as Clinically Genius and has a secret lab surrounding the house. Most of it is below the ground since it is not visible from outside. He also wears glasses and has red hair. He wears purple gloves similar to his mother's yellow gloves. Dee Dee is athletic and enjoys synchronized swimming, ballet, and destroying her brother's lab over and over again. She seems to know about the devices much better than Dexter does, and thinks that Dexter's time is better spent playing outside instead of "answering the questions that nobody is asking". She is a newspaper carrier, who competes with ninjas.
They have several pets, but not much is said about them. They have fish; one of them was named Fishie. Dexter has a monkey that he researches in his lab. He also experiments on other pets such as making dogs talk and making termites eat metal, (which of course is very dangerous because all the world needs is termites that can eat metal!!) but it is because he needs the termite to eat everything in the lab that Dee Dee wrecks.
Their neighbors have included Barney and Betty Rubble, and George Jetson and Fred Flintstone are also seen. They are all dressed in modern clothing, with Barney, Betty, and Fred wearing shoes and pants. They are drawn in a different form which is later used in "The Flintstones: On The Rocks".
Dexter's Laboratory is cannon to The Powerpuff Girls, (but they do not reside in Townsville like The PowerPuff Girls characters do) and also there are other super heroes called "The Justice Friends", which includes Monkey, Major Glory, agent Honey Q. (or Agent Honeydew), and many others which is a combined allusion to both Marvel and DC super heroes. Action Hank is another super hero that stars in a different series, and The Puppet Pals Show and Koos-a-la-goop-a-goop are characters added for humor.
Mandark and Lalavava are two intended rivals for Dexter and Dee Dee. Lalavava and Dee Dee become friends after discovering they have a lot in common, and Mandark has a crush on Dee Dee. Dee Dee and Mandark are the same size while Dexter and Lalavava are the same size. The father is Wind Bear and the mother is Ocean Bird. Mandark's birth name is Susan. They are not introduced until later which explains more about Mandark. Mandark did not like having long hair AND being called Susan, so he cuts his hair by himself with a cracked bowl on the top of his head which explains why his hair is uneven on one side.
Lee Lee and Mee Mee are two of Dee Dee's friends.
Towards the end of the series original run, there was a full length episode called "Last But Not Beast", where Dexter's family including the parents team up to form a robot to be able to conquer a monster. A full length special, called "Ego Trip" is about rivalries between Dexter and Mandark. Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo produced an anime-themed music video called "Dee Dee and Dexter" and Dexter is featured in other music videos. In Cartoon Network's "Prime Cut", there is a 3 part segment of a musical episode.