Newest Review: ... and sometimes he has to battle his arch-enemy Mandark. Mandark is another glasses-wearing geek with a Dark Side. He and Dexter are f... more
Dexter, look! A bunny!
Member Name: spacelamb
Date: 05/03/01, updated on 05/03/01 (95 review reads)
Advantages: looks great, fab nonsense plots
Disadvantages: often repeated
It has been a particularly grimy day's work in the lab for Dexter. He slips reluctantly into an uber-bubbling bath, until only his ginger mop and geek specs are visible. His eyebrows furrow.
"If only there was a way to eliminate this troublesome bathing from my life!"
Suddenly, his eye falls onto his laminated lab security card. (Quite why it is on the bathroom floor we will never know - obviously security is quite lax).
Cut to laboratory. Dexter is standing in front of a device of his own invention - The Laminatrix. He steps into the pod, flicks a switch and presto! - he has become a fully-laminated child prodigy. An end to washing forever! Of course, by the end of the episode it transpires that it is best for children NOT to be laminated (that slippery surface makes it impossible for Dex to grip his test tubes) so hopefully, the kids won't go trying this at home.
To go back a few steps: Dexter's Laboratory is a Cartoon Network toon, shown a couple of times a day. Dexter is a vertically-challenged science whizzkid whose bedroom opens out into an expansive secret lab. Here he invents various gadgets to make his life easier - an Anti-Dee-Dee Machine for example. Dee-Dee is his older sister, tall in height but short on brains. Her eyes have a permanently glazed expression and her world is full of cookies, ponies and new pink shoes; most episodes revolve around Dee-Dee's mindless ruination of her brother's plans.
The only other characters in the show are their parents, who appear occasionally as background figures, blissfully unaware of their children's escapades as long as they eat all their peas. (Bizarre indeed that they fail to notice Dexter's lab, which much be a good kilometre square judging by the number of gizmos featured in each episode). There is also a triangular family dog who appears even less frequently, but is worth looking out for. Oh, and Mandark - Dexter's nemesis.
He is just as smart, has a bigger lab (is this possible?), a head shaped like a hot air balloon and an amorous inclination towards Dee-Dee.
The style of the cartoon is very modern and graphic - think Powerpuff Girls rather than Cow and Chicken. All the characters and objects have a thick black outline, colours are blocked rather than shaded, and it is a basically monochrome world with splashes of pink and purple. Proportion and perspective are also done away with altogether.
Each 'episode' of Dexter is half an hour long, but within that there are three different adventures. Quite a lot have been made and it is still in production, so if you're a toon junkie you'll probably end up seeing repeats within a couple of weeks, simply because it is shown so often. This is not necessarily a bad thing though - like the Simpsons, it is just as good the second time round.
Dexter is primarily made for kids and has no specifically adult references in it (although ‘Laminatrix’ might go over the heads of a few primary-schoolers), but it's very intelligently made and appeals to a wide audience. The humour comes largely from Dexter's precociousness - he has an extensive vocabulary, a mad professor voice and no social skills to speak of - and the comparative dimness of Dee-Dee ("Oooh Dexter, what's this button do?").
If you don't have access to cable, satellite or digital TV you have my deepest sympathy – it’s worth the money for Dexter alone. The web page is very limited sadly - www.cartoonnetwork.com/favorites/dexter - but gives a fair idea of what the programme is like, and there are other homegrown sites that represent it much better. I’m an avid watcher myself, and have already decided that when I grow up, I want to be Dee-Dee.