Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tooniversary: Dexter's Laboratory (1996)

Dexter's Laboratory holds the distinction of being the first entry from Cartoon Network's World Premiere Toons series (aka The What-a-Cartoon Show) to graduate into its own series. Dexter and his older, dull-witted sister, Dee Dee, debuted in 1995, but we're noting when the series launched, which was in 1996. To maximize interest, Cartoon Network's sister channels, TNT & TBS, also carried Dexter for a time. Today, the series continues in reruns on Boomerang.

Dexter was the first creation of animator Genndy Tartatovsky, who currently helms CN's Star Wars: The Clone Wars. There were two backup features that appeared in season 1 and will be showcased at a later time:

The Justice Friends was a parody of both the hit sitcom, Friends, crossed with Marvel Comics' The Avengers, moreso than DC's Justice League of America (which of course begat the Super Friends franchise). Unfortunately, not too many episodes were made of this segment, which is a shame, because it was pretty funny.

Dial M For Monkey showcased Dexter's nameless pet simian, whom Dexter had used in numerous experiments. Unbeknownst to Dexter, he actually may have tapped into Monkey's latent powers, which led to his becoming a secret agent. The absurd part of it all was how Monkey (whose vocal effects were done by Frank Welker) was dating his partner, Agent Honeydew. That blew my mind. The late "Macho Man" Randy Savage guest starred in one episode.

Speaking of guest stars, that brings us to our sample clip from Dexter's Laboratory, from the episode, "Just an Old Fashioned Lab Song". The title is a riff on an old Three Dog Night tune, "Just an Old Fashioned Love Song", and the song was written by actor-singer-songwriter Paul Williams ("Phantom of the Paradise", among others), who appears here. Dexter (Christine Cavanaugh) joins him for a duet.

As memory serves, the series aired on weekends on TBS, usually as a lead-in to WCW wrestling. If I can find it, I'll see about posting the riotous parody of Speed Racer, "Mock 5", another time.

Rating: A-.

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