The animated Dennis the Menace series was preceded by the character’s original comic strip in 1951, and by a live action sitcom in 1959. All three formats shared the same premise, although Dennis appeared to be slightly older than his original 5 1/2 years in both of the television series.
Only child Dennis ‘the menace’ was more than enough for his long-suffering parents Henry and Alice Mitchell to handle. As a result of his youthful energy and enthusiasm, the rambunctious, though well-meaning, young boy created a whole lot of headache for those he came into contact with. The lad’s biggest foible was that he was oblivious to the repercussions of his actions.
Often accompanied by the family dog Ruff, Dennis shared adventures with several neighborhood kids. His best friends were the short and nervous Joey McDonald, and the tall and tomboyish Gina Gillotti. The three also hung out with a red-headed girl named Margaret Wade, whose prim and proper, self-important personality put her at odds with Dennis. Without a doubt, however, Dennis’s best “best friend” was next door neighbor George Wilson. At any time, Mr. Wilson could look forward to Dennis barging in to visit unannounced, “helping” with tasks, and generally making a disaster of things. Unlike her husband, Martha Wilson enjoyed Dennis’s company — but then she wasn’t generally the victim of his antics.
After an initial year in syndication, the series aired for a second season on CBS, for a total of 78 episodes. Each half-hour episode consisted of three independent story segments between 5–10 minutes in length.