Dexter's Laboratory (seasons 3 & 4)

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Dexter's Laboratory (seasons 3 & 4)
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This is what happens when a network gives inexperienced people control over a show after its original staff departs and move onto other projects.
Genre: Science fiction
Comedy
Running Time: 22 minutes
Country: United States
Release Date: November 18, 2001 - September 20, 2002 (Season 3)
November 22, 2002 - November 20, 2003 (Season 4)
Network(s): Cartoon Network
Created by: Genndy Tartakovsky
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Starring: Christine Cavanaugh (early Season 3, Tele Trauma only)
Candi Milo (rest of Season 3-Season 4)
Allison Moore (Season 3)
Kat Cressida (Season 4)
Kath Soucie
Jeff Bennett
Episodes: 36 (Season 3)
38 (Season 4)


Dexter's Laboratory is an American animated television series created by Genndy Tartakovsky for Cartoon Network and the first of the Cartoon Cartoons. It aired from 1996 to 2003, spanning 78 episodes across four seasons.

Though it originally concluded with a television movie, Dexter's Laboratory: Ego Trip, in 1999, it was revived for two more seasons in 2001. As Tartakovsky left the series two years before making Samurai Jack, as well as many of the other original staff members also moving on to other projects or to make their works, Chris Savino was put in charge of the last two seasons of this show.

The first two seasons were well received for their creative stories, good humor, and colorfully detailed animation. However, during the last two seasons, various changes were made to the show and this is where things, unfortunately, started to go wrong.

Bad Qualities

  1. These seasons were completely unnecessary. The television movie, “Ego Trip”, had a decent ending and was meant to be the show’s finale. At the end of the special, Mandark is defeated and Dexter becomes the most brilliant scientist in the world. However, Cartoon Network insisted that the show was going to be continued no matter what.
  2. The animation in these seasons, while a decent effort for its time, is a pretty big downgrade from that of the first two seasons.
    • The colorfully-detailed background color palette from the first two seasons has been replaced with a plain, simplistic, washed-out, and unappealing background color palette. The fourth season did improve in terms of background color palette, but even that wasn't enough.
    • The characters are sometimes given facial expressions that are too ugly and off-model and feel like they don't suit the characters' normal faces. A good example includes Dee Dee's outbursts in "Folly Calls".
    • Likewise, the character designs have also taken a step down:
      • Dexter and Mandark's respective bodies look more rigid and geometric like a square or rectangle.
      • Dee Dee looks virtually off-modeled.
      • Dexter's mom has a larger head and hip, with her eyes constantly pressing flat.
      • Dexter's dad has a larger, lankier head and his bottom half looks unfinished.
  3. Some of the characters have been flanderized:
    • Mandark receives the biggest flanderization, as he has gone from Dexter's antagonistic science rival to a full-blown evil genius bent on destroying Dexter and ruling the world. Yes, he did turn evil in “Ego Trip”, but these seasons take place before the aforementioned original planned finale. In addition, he is also a filler or comic relief character who grew up in a family of hippies, which is a huge insult to his fans.
    • Dexter's dad has gone from a bumbling, yet loving father to a Butt-Monkey-type character.
      • Both of Dexter's parents are also much more clueless and dumber than they already were.
    • Dexter, while unchanged for the most part, has become a bigger jerk and/or a bigger punching bag than he was in the first two seasons.
      • Additionally, many of Dexter's experiments weren't creative nor inventive. Neither were Mandark's inventions for that matter.
    • Dee Dee became more annoying, idiotic, and destructive than she was in the first two seasons.
  4. Almost all supporting characters from the first two seasons don't return, notably the Justice Friends (although they reappear in "Dexter's Wacky Races"), Mee Mee and Lee Lee (Dee Dee's best friends), Action Hank, and Commander.
  5. The writing has gotten severely downgraded, resulting in many bad episodes (See "Notable Bad Episodes from These Seasons" section).
  6. Slow pacing as the jokes drag on longer than a cutaway gag in Family Guy. A glaring example is the episode "A Third Dad Cartoon", where it is nothing but Dexter's dad preparing a golf game for the whole 3-minute episode.
  7. Christine Cavanaugh, Dexter's original voice actress, retired from voice acting after the first few episodes of the third season and was replaced by Candi Milo for the remainder of the series' run. Candi Milo does a poor job voicing Dexter in the third season, as she makes Dexter's Russian accent sound rather forced and cheesy. However, she did improve marginally in the fourth season.
  8. Overuse of toilet and gross-out humor, which was not too common in the first two seasons. The worst offenders are "Jeepers, Creepers, Where Is Peepers?" and "Sore Eyes".
  9. The title cards in the third season are generic and repetitive, as all of them just show the same title card with a completely white background that involves a small oil painting bubble of Dexter or a completely black background with just the titles of the episodes.
  10. The episode "The Lab of Tomorrow" is a rip-off/rehash of the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Krusty Krab Training Video".
  11. Several continuity errors and inconsistencies such as in "A Boy Named Sue" and "Glove at First Sight" which contradict "Dexter's Rival" and "Snowdown" respectively.
  12. Many of the endings are rushed or confusing, especially the ones for "Dexter's Little Dilemma" and "Sore Eyes".

Good Qualities

  1. The animation is still fairly good and smooth as animated by Rough Draft Studios.
  2. There are a handful of good/decent episodes, such as:
  3. Season 4 is a slight improvement.
    • The backgrounds have improved, with much more detail, but still fell flat compared to the first two seasons, mainly due to the washed-out colors.
    • The episode title cards are original, creative, and are surprisingly the best aspect of this otherwise lackluster revival.
  4. Decent voice acting from the cast, though Candi Milo was not all that great voicing Dexter, especially in Season 3.
  5. Some funny jokes here and there that are still worth a chuckle.
  6. Genndy Tartakovsky was still involved, albeit as the show's executive producer, which is not much.

Notable Bad Episodes from These Seasons

Season 3

Season 4

Video

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