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The Zeta Project

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Zeta Project
The Zeta Project (logo).gif
Genre
Created byRobert Goodman
Based onZeta
by Robert Goodman
Written by
  • Robert Goodman (seasons 1–2)
  • Rich Fogel (season 1)
  • Kevin Hopps (season 1)
Starring
Composers
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes26 (list of episodes)
Production
Running time30 minutes
Production companies
DistributorWarner Bros. Television Distribution
Release
Original networkKids' WB (The WB)
Original releaseJanuary 27, 2001 (2001-01-27) –
August 10, 2002 (2002-08-10)[1]
Chronology
RelatedBatman Beyond

The Zeta Project is an American science fiction animated television series produced by Warner Bros. Animation. It first aired on Kids' WB in January 2001.[2] It is a spin-off series based on the character Zeta from the Batman Beyond episode of the same name and the sixth series of the DC Animated Universe. The show was created by Robert Goodman and Warner Bros. Animation.[3]

The story's main character, Infiltration Unit Zeta, is a humanoid robot (synthoid) designed to carry out covert assassinations on the behalf of the National Security Agency. When Zeta discovers that one of his targets is innocent, he experiences an existential crisis about goodness and the value of life; following this epiphany, Zeta finds that he can no longer kill. The newly enlightened Zeta refuses to continue on as an infiltration unit and abandons his mission, going rogue. Zeta is pursued by a team of NSA agents, led by the obsessed Agent Bennett, and is aided by a 15-year-old runaway, Rosalie "Ro" Rowan.[4]

The series was cancelled after two seasons.[4]

Overview

Inspired by Frankenstein,[5] Blade Runner,[6] and The Fugitive,[7] The Zeta Project follows the exploits of Zeta and Ro as they attempt to prove that he is genuinely non-violent, whereas the NSA agents pursuing him believe that the terrorists he was investigating before going rogue have reprogrammed him for some unknown purpose. To prove his innocence, Zeta and Ro search for his creator, the elusive Dr. Selig.

A spin-off of Batman Beyond, Bob Goodman initially pitched the show with plans to be darker than its point of origin,[5] but when the pitch went to the Network, Kid's WB was looking for shows that would skew to a younger demographic, and The Zeta Project was ultimately picked up with the thought process "It's a Robot, and it's a teenage girl. How much fun can that be?"[7] Promises were made by the show staff that most of the locations Zeta would encounter would not be as dark, gothic, and oppressive feeling as Batman Beyond's Gotham City. Among this, and other constraints, Bob's original vision for the show's messages on dark government, misuse of technology, and a wide range of social and political issues became more difficult to execute.[8]

Despite the lighter tone adopted by the final product, Kid's WB still felt The Zeta Project was too dark all throughout its run, and almost canceled the show entirely following the September 11 attacks due to its plot lines involving terrorism and critical commentary on the NSA.[9] Ultimately, the show went on for one more season before Goodman walked away, believing the networks demands were pushing the show too far away from his creative vision.

Characters

Infiltration Unit Zeta

Created in a lab just over a year ago, Zeta is like a child in a grown-up's body. He has a high-endurance metal frame, that was built to carry an array of weapons and tools. He can project a hologram around himself and alter his voice, allowing him to become anyone. He was created to fight The United States' enemies, but learned the value of human life and refused to harm a man he believed was innocent, threw away his weapons, and ran from his programmed destiny. Ever since, the government agents that controlled Zeta have been after him, convinced that he's been reprogrammed by terrorists. Zeta hopes that his creator, Selig, will believe that his change of heart is real, and convince the agents to drop their pursuit. But Selig himself is a man on the move, and Zeta hasn't found him yet. Though Zeta no longer possesses the vast array of weapons that he originally came equipped with, his arms are equipped with saw blades and cutting lasers. He also possesses a wide array of other non-lethal tools, such as handheld welding lasers, a computer interface, and an unlimited cred card. He's faster than a human. His "eyes" and "ears" pick up wavelengths outside human perception. And to a limited degree, he's self-repairing.[10]

Rosalie "Ro" Rowan

Ro grew up in foster care, and was then assigned to a state-run girls' home. The only thing she even knows about her family is a vague memory of an older brother; the pair was separated by the foster care system years ago. She ran away from the state system at fifteen-years-old and hooked up with a gang just to have a roof over her head. But when she refused to do a hold-up to prove herself to the leader, she burned the last bridge she had. As she and Zeta search for his creator Ro embarks on a parallel journey on her own search for a "family" to belong to. Ro is the source of humor for the series. She's also Zeta's guide to "passing" among humans, and teaches him all those endless lessons we all take for granted about being human.[11] She is visually inspired by Priss from Blade Runner.[6]

Special Agent James Bennet

Agent Bennet is the leader of the NSA team sent to capture Zeta. He vehemently believes that, regardless of Zeta's behavior, there is some sinister motive behind Zeta's sudden change in attitude and believes that he is working with the terrorist organization Brother's Day. Despite his supposed professionalism, he is seen to disobey orders himself, when it suits him, as well as abuse his authority. Although he overhears Dr. Selig's confession about giving Zeta a conscience, there is no sure sign that he will cease to be Zeta's enemy. Bennet is inspired by Lt. Philip Gerard from The Fugitive[7]

Dr. Eli Selig

Once the head of the government's Infiltration Unit Program, Doctor Eli Selig is the man who created Zeta. Selig knows Zeta's abilities and limitations better than anyone else on Earth. Since building Zeta, he's moved on to another government project—one far more confidential than his past work. At his current level of secrecy, Selig has become a phantom—appearing where and when his work demands, but always keeping his itinerary close to the vest. He will on occasion surface, to aid other scientists or lecture at conferences, but because his security is so sensitive, his appearances are never announced until the last minute.[12]

Agent Orin West and Marcia Lee

Formerly Scout Unit Four, partner NSA Agent ORIN WEST and MARCIA LEE botch a chance to capture Zeta at the Wood Valley Maryland hoverbus station - and get assigned to Agent Bennet's personal detail as their punishment. Now West and Lee work right at Bennet's side (where he can keep an eye on them), dedicated to the single mission of capturing Zeta.

West is a clumsy, overeager bumbler, constantly firing weapons too soon, tripping over his own feet and blowing chances to catch Zeta. Lucky for him, Lee's there to keep him in check. She's more controlled, and by-the-book—but Lee has her doubts about Zeta's guilt. She's willing to believe Zeta might really be peaceful - and that open-mindedness sometimes puts her at odds with Agent Bennet.[13] Lee eventually leaves Bennet's team and is replaced by Agent Rush

While West shares a last name and is similar in appearance to Wally West (the Flash), who is also voiced by Rosenbaum, showrunner Bob Goodman has stated this was coincidental.[9]

Bucky Buenaventura

12 year old Bucky is a bona fide genius. Emancipated by his parents, he lives in an academic think tank. He's a hacker who loves to invade high security corporate computers and expose sensitive government secrets, just to show that he can and will give Big Brother the occasional goose. Unchecked by grown-ups, Bucky travels around freely, orchestrating his pranks—and keeping an interested eye on Zeta and Ro.[14]

Infiltration Unit 7

IU7 is the next generation of Infiltration Unit to come after Zeta, which Agent Bennet unleashes with the sole assignment of capturing its robotic predecessor. This synthoid has the same mimicking skills as Zeta, but the metal frame beneath its hologram is larger, more powerful, and more heavily armed. IU7 still carries a dangerous arsenal of weapons—and has none of Zeta's compunctions about using it. Because of the extreme single-mindedness of IU7's programming, Zeta and Ro usually find ways to misdirect and outsmart the synthoid monster.[15]

Cast

Protagonists

Voice actor Role
Diedrich Bader Zee / Infiltration Unit Zeta
Julie Nathanson Rosalie Rowan
Eli Marienthal Kid Zee

Supporting protagonists

Voice actor Role
Lauren Tom Agent Marcia Lee
Ulysses Cuadra Bucky Buenaventura (Season 1)
Blayn Barbosa Bucky Buenaventura (Season 2)
Grey Griffin Andrea Donoso
George Segal Dr. Eli Selig (Season 1)
Hal Linden Dr. Eli Selig (Season 2)
Lukas Haas Casey MacCurdy
Will Friedle Batman
Kevin Conroy Bruce Wayne

Antagonists

Voice actor Role
Kurtwood Smith Agent James Bennet
Diedrich Bader Infiltration Unit 7 / IU7
Robert Costanzo Titus Sweete
Keith Szarabajka Krick (Season 1)
Richard Moll Krick (Season 2)

Supporting antagonists

Voice actor Role
Michael Rosenbaum Agent Orin West
Erika Alexander Agent Rush (Season 1)
Dominique Jennings Agent Rush (Season 2)
Jim Wise Dr. Byrne
John Rhys-Davies Edgar Mandragora / The Albino
Kate Jackson Bombshell
Phil LaMarr Schiz

Episodes

Series overview

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast airedNetwork
112January 27, 2001 (2001-01-27)August 11, 2001 (2001-08-11)Kids' WB
214March 23, 2002 (2002-03-23)August 17, 2002 (2002-08-17)

Season 1 (2001)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
code
11"The Accomplice"Curt GedaRobert GoodmanJanuary 27, 2001 (2001-01-27)TZP-01
Zeta is on the run from the NSA. He saves the life of a 15-year-old runaway, Ro Rowen. Ro proceeds to help Zeta escape from the NSA. After finding out that Zeta possesses unlimited money, Ro agrees to help him in exchange for 5,000 creds. Ro persuades Zeta, whom she dubs "Zee", to search for his creators, since they would be able to tell the NSA that Zeta was innocent. Zeta convinces Ro to distract the clumsy Agent West while he breaks into the NSA van to download information on his creators. Ro does not succeed in distracting West for very long, so, against her inclinations, she rescues Zeta and decides to stay with him and help him find his creators.
22"His Maker's Name"Tim MaltbyStory by : Hilary J. Bader
Teleplay by : Hilary J. Bader & Robert Goodman
February 3, 2001 (2001-02-03)TZP-02
Zeta and Ro look for one of Zeta's creators, Dr. Aroyu, who now works at a Space Lab. They do not find Dr. Aroyu, but they escape from the NSA in a van of Spacies, futuristic hippies who protest the commercialization of space. Ro goes with the Spacies to a protest at the Space Lab, when she sees Dr. Aroyu. She convinces Dr. Aroyu, who believes Zeta wants to kill him, to meet Zeta. When Zeta goes to meet Dr. Aroyu, he finds that he has walked into a trap set by Agent Bennett. Zeta saves Dr. Aroyu's life when the trap malfunctions, and the scientist helps Zeta to escape. Dr. Aroyu tells Zeta that the man that he wants to find is Dr. Selig.
33"Remote Control"Curt GedaRalph SollFebruary 10, 2001 (2001-02-10)TZP-04
Zeta and Ro go looking for Dr. Selig at a science convention. They find that Dr. Selig is not there, and meet Bucky Buenventura, a 12-year-old genius who has invented a universal remote control. Bucky, upon finding out that Zeta is a synthoid, uses the remote control to take control of Zeta and play pranks at the science convention. When Bucky finds out that Dr. Tannor copied his control and tried to pass it off as his own, Bucky sets Zeta on Dr. Tannor for revenge. Ro arrives and uses the copied inductance controller to stop Zeta from hurting Dr. Tannor. Zeta destroys Bucky's remote, and warns him not to use it again.
44"Change of Heart"Bob DoucetteKevin HoppsFebruary 17, 2001 (2001-02-17)TZP-03
Zeta and Ro track Dr. Selig to a museum; to hide, Zeta takes his Little Zee form for the first time. Zeta and Ro meet a woman and her daughter, Kora Kaye. Zeta rescues Kora Kaye from a fusion reactor after the NSA agents arrive. Ro and Zeta escape from the NSA just in time, and Zeta catches a glimpse of Dr. Selig. Ro admits that she sometimes wonders about her parents, whom she has never met.
55"The Next Gen"Tim MaltbyStory by : Hilary J. Bader
Teleplay by : Rich Fogel
February 24, 2001 (2001-02-24)TZP-05
Zeta is searching the Internet at the cybercafe Groundwire, when he accidentally intercepts a mission for another Infiltration Unit. Zeta decides that he must stop Infiltration Unit 7 from killing its target, the arms dealer Roland DeFlores. At the airport, Zeta and Ro meet Bucky Buenventura, who wants to take control of IU7, an improved model of Zeta. Zeta fights IU7, and, with the help of Ro and Bucky, defeats it. Ro, Bucky, and Zeta return to the United States. Bucky admits that he likes Ro and Zeta, and wants to help them. IU7 begins to repair itself. Its memory is damaged, but it remembers fighting Zeta, so it chooses Zeta as its next target.
66"West Bound"Bob DoucetteStory by : Stacey Liss Goodman & Robert Goodman
Teleplay by : Wendell Morris & Tom Sheppard
March 10, 2001 (2001-03-10)TZP-06
Zeta and Ro flee the NSA on a train, but Agent West manages to board with them. Zeta's hologram projector malfunctions, so that he begins to take on the appearance of anyone that he has just seen. This makes it easy for Agent West to find him. The NSA closes in. Zeta and Ro escape, but are separated. However, they quickly find each other again, and Ro says that they are beginning to think alike.
77"Hicksburg"Curt GedaPaul DiamondMarch 31, 2001 (2001-03-31)TZP-07
Ro decides to visit her old foster family, the Morgans, in hope of finding information on her biological family. Ro uses Zeta's unlimited cred card to purchase expensive gifts, telling Zeta that she wants to impress them. When Ro's foster sister Tiffy opens the door, Zeta transforms into the vid star Adam Heat and kisses Tiffy, in an unwanted attempt to help Ro. Tiffy convinces Zeta to help her by playing the part of Romeo in Tiffy's Shakespeare audition. The stage's scenery projector malfunctions and causes Zeta to lose his hologram. Ro's foster father, the sheriff, goes after Zeta, but when Zeta saves the theater from destruction, decides to let him go. Tiffy gives a picture to Ro that she admits she stole, and tells Ro that it is a picture of her brother.
88"Shadows"Tim MaltbyRich FogelApril 7, 2001 (2001-04-07)TZP-08
Infiltration Unit 7 resumes its search for Zeta. It tracks Zeta to a shopping mall in Gotham City, where Ro is trying to teach him about fun through video games. IU7 adopts a hologram to look like Zeta, and approaches Ro to learn the whereabouts of the real Zeta. Ro realizes that IU7 is a fake, but cannot stop him from attacking the real Zeta. In the ensuing fight, the mall is destroyed, but Zeta manages to prevent anyone being hurt, except for Ro. Zeta brings Ro to the hospital, where he is told that she will be all right, but he still feels guilty and begins to question if whether or not Ro should continue to remain by his side. Batman sees the destruction of the mall and believes Zeta to be responsible. He tracks Zeta to the hospital, where Zeta is seen saying goodbye to an unconscious Ro with his welding tool in hand. Batman believes that Zeta intends to kill her, and breaks in to stop him. He tries to destroy Zeta, but is stopped by a newly awakened Ro, revealing the truth. Batman does not believe Zeta is innocent, until IU7 breaks in. Batman helps Zeta to fight IU7, and IU7 is destroyed by a magnetic wave. Batman apologizes, and Zeta tells Ro that he does not want her with him because it is too dangerous. Ro refuses to leave, and tells Zeta that she is having fun.
99"Crime Waves"Bob DoucetteStory by : Kevin Hopps
Teleplay by : Kevin Hopps & Rich Fogel
April 14, 2001 (2001-04-14)TZP-09
Zeta and Ro are enjoying a day at the beach, when they come upon a boy being harassed by bikers. Zeta saves him, and they find out that he is Wade Pennington, the son of a wealthy robotics manufacturer. Wade invites Ro and Zeta for lunch at his compound, along with his bodyguard, Sven. Ro is angry to see that Wade is very spoiled, rude, and abuses his robots. She and Zeta leave. However, later it is found that Wade has been kidnapped, and Ro and Zeta have been framed. They investigate, and find out that Sven kidnapped Wade to collect the ransom money from Wade's father. Zeta and Ro go to Sven's boat to stop him, and Sven says that he will kill Wade, Ro, and Zeta and turn the two of them in for the reward money. Zeta reveals that he is a robot to a shocked Wade. The three of them stop Sven, and Wade learns to respect his robots.
1010"Taffy Time"Tim MaltbyJoseph KuhrMay 5, 2001 (2001-05-05)TZP-10
Zeta and Ro are fleeing Agent West and Agent Lee. They are led into the Koala Candy Factory by a mysterious stranger. The stranger turns out to be Rohan Krick, a bounty hunter who wants to turn Zeta in for the reward money. Zeta escapes from Krick and gets Ro out of the factory before Krick activates a force field that traps Zeta inside. Agent Lee had also entered the factory. Krick finds her, and takes her hostage, threatening to kill her if Zeta does not reveal himself. Zeta helps Lee escape, and Ro finds a way back into the factory. Zeta and Ro defeat Krick, injuring his face. Agent Lee is reluctantly going to arrest Zeta, but West manages to get himself handcuffed to the railing, and Lee gratefully uses the excuse to let Zeta go. Lee begins to realize that Zeta is innocent.
1111"Ro's Reunion"Tim MaltbyStory by : Katy Cooper & Ned Teitelbaum
Teleplay by : Katy Cooper & Ned Teitelbaum and Rich Fogel & Kevin Hopps
November 24, 2001 (2001-11-24)(Canada)[16]TZP-11
Ro wants to meet her brother, and is practicing talking to him with Zeta in a hologram to match his picture. Ro finds out about a TV show that helps kids find their family members, and Zeta insists that she go on it. However, Ro realizes that once she is on the show, Bennett will be able to find her and will watch her, so she will never be able to see Zeta again. Zeta insists that she try to find her brother anyway, and so they separate. Later, Zeta sees a girl who had been on the show earlier. She is complaining that the woman she met was an actress, not her real mother. Zeta finds out that the show does not really find lost family members, but instead makes money by turning runaways back to the state. Zeta goes to save Ro. When Ro meets her 'brother,' she realizes that although he looks like her, he looks nothing like the picture she has. Zeta exposes the show to be a fake, and the producer, who did not know what was going on, vows to change it. Zeta and Ro escape, and Ro tells Zeta that he is the only family that she needs.
1212"Kid Genius"Bob DoucettePaul DiamondAugust 11, 2001 (2001-08-11)TZP-12
Ro and Zeta are driving a motorcycle along the magway, when they are interrupted by a tornado warning. The motorcycle takes control of itself, and Ro and Zeta are brought to a shelter. However, Zeta cannot detect a tornado and they are brought to a house in the suburbs. The house belongs to Bucky Buenventura, who had taken over the motorcycle. Bucky wants Zeta's help in finding his parents, who were kidnapped by Dr. Tannor. Zeta agrees, and they go with Bucky to the clinic where Dr. Tannor now works. Bucky's parents are working on a machine designed to rejuvenate patients, but it has malfunctioned, turning Bucky's parents and several patients into very small children. Dr. Tannor knocks Zeta out, and tells Bucky that if he fixes the machine, he will give Zeta and the Buenventuras back. Bucky grudgingly begins to fix the machine, but he cannot make it work. Dr. Tannor tries to destroy Zeta, but Zeta escapes and finds Ro and Bucky. The machine malfunctions and threatens to destroy the compound. Zeta, Ro, Bucky, and the children all escape, and Zeta tells Bucky that he downloaded the machine's schematics, and will be able to return Bucky's parents to normal.

Season 2 (2002)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
code
131"Absolute Zero"Curt GedaRobert Goodman & Kevin HoppsMarch 23, 2002 (2002-03-23)TZP-13
Zeta finds out that Dr. Selig is meeting at Cryobin, a cryogenics lab, with a scientist called Dr. Wilhelm. Zeta pretends to be Dr. Wilhelm by imitating his retinal patterns, but the real Dr. Wilhelm shows up. Dr. Selig's guards shoot at Zeta, but they miss and destroy the computer in the cryogenics room. The room is evacuated, and no one notices that Dr. Selig has been trapped in a cryogenic freeze unit. Zeta realizes that since the computer has malfunctioned, Dr. Selig will die unless Zeta helps him. Zeta controls the freeze unit to keep Dr. Selig's temperature secure until help can arrive. But Agent Bennett, realizing Zeta is in Cryobin, decides to defy the orders that Cryobin is above his clearance, and go after Zeta. Zeta is monitoring the temperature, but an explosion makes him pull away out of concern for Ro. Ro is all right, but the explosion further damaged the cryogenic unit. Zeta has to take Dr. Selig out, and use his internal heating to keep the doctor's condition stable. He saves Dr. Selig, but does not get a chance to talk to him. Bennett is stopped by his superiors, and Agent Lee reveals that she tipped them off. Lee believes Zeta is innocent, so she resigns from Bennett's team. Zeta and Ro escape.
142"Wired: Part 1"Curt GedaRobert GoodmanMarch 30, 2002 (2002-03-30)TZP-14
The NSA are catching up to Zeta and Ro. Bucky is trying to communicate with them, when his transmission is interrupted. Ro and Zeta are rescued by three hackers, Meg, Plug, and Buss. They all seem to be fans of Zeta, and Buss has an obsessive crush on Ro. Meg and Plug convince Zeta to allow them to take him apart and see how he works, and in exchange they will help him find Dr. Selig. Ro is reluctantly taken to Buss's house. Bucky manages to message Ro, warning her that Meg and Plug want to use Zeta for parts. Ro escapes to save Zeta, and Zeta manages to repair himself while Ro drives one of the hackers' motorcycles. The motorcycle runs out of power, the NSA capture Zeta, but Ro is saved by Buss. She is informed that the NSA plan to erase Zeta's memory.
153"Wired: Part 2"Liz HolzmanRobert GoodmanApril 6, 2002 (2002-04-06)TZP-15
Following from the previous episode, Zeta has been captured by the NSA and taken for reprogramming. Ro tries to find him, and tracks him to a government warehouse, where she calls Bucky. He refuses to help out of fear that he is being tracked, so she breaks in herself. Inside, Bennett and the other agents discover a module in Zeta's head that was not on his schematics. They erase Zeta's memories as he struggles to hold on to what memories he can. Then, they attempt to alter the module. Zeta sees them as hostile targets and breaks free, beginning to destroy the warehouse. Bennett asks Ro to reveal Zeta's position, but she refuses, defending him over the intercom. Zeta hears her speak and is able to access his saved memories. Zeta and Ro escape. Zeta expresses concern over the module in his head and the fact that he has no idea what it does, but it caused him to behave violently. Ro consoles him, telling him that "Everyone has good and bad inside them", and that it makes him more human.
164"Resume Mission"Rob DaviesStory by : Ralph Soll and Liz Holzman
Teleplay by : Ralph Soll
April 13, 2002 (2002-04-13)TZP-19
An 11-year-old boy, Jason Foley, is given spare parts from his father to work on. He puts a computer chip from these parts in his computer. The computer is taken over by Infiltration Unit 7, which begins to order parts to repair itself. Zeta is scanning for a shoulder part that he needs on the net when he discovers orders being placed to rebuild IU7. Deciding that Jace Foley must be in danger, he and Ro go to stop IU7. IU7 is still determined to damage Zeta, but must also acquire all of the parts necessary to rebuild itself. When Zeta comes, the two synthoids fight and IU7 seemingly manages to kill Zeta. He goes to recover a final part he needs, taking Jace hostage. Zeta repairs himself, and he and Ro go to the warehouse where Jace was taken. Zeta removes IU7's CPU chip, and the synthoid is shut down. NSA agents come to clean up, led by Agent Lee. Zeta gives Lee IU7's CPU chip, and she lets Zeta and Ro go.
175"Hunt in the Hub"T. J. HouseStory by : Paul Diamond
Teleplay by : Paul Diamond & Robert Goodman
April 20, 2002 (2002-04-20)TZP-16
Zeta and Ro track Dr. Boyle, an associate of Dr. Selig's, to the Hub, a business/commercial center and center of air traffic. However, Boyle has set a trap, and attaches a chip to Zeta which will not allow him to use his cred card. He tells Zeta to test it on a computer nearby. Zeta is deemed vagrant, and is tracked by security guards. Boyle says that he will remove the chip if Zeta and Ro steal parts for his new project. They both agree. Zeta steals several parts, but after several close calls, he and Ro come up with a plan to stop him. They allow several NSA agents to see Ro seemingly giving parts to Dr. Boyle, and Zeta in a hologram accepting them and confessing everything. Zeta and Ro get Boyle to remove the chip, and then the agents chase after Boyle. Zeta and Ro escape on a hyperplane, but Rush and West follow, only to be locked in second class while the fugitives are in first class.
186"Ro's Gift"Rob DaviesStory by : Hilary J. Bader & Joseph Kuhr
Teleplay by : Joseph Kuhr
April 27, 2002 (2002-04-27)TZP-17
While holographically morphed into Ro, Zeta disables a malfunctioning robot. The Brain Trust, (from the Batman Beyond episode "Mind Games") a group of superhuman bystanders witness this and decide that they wish for her (Zeta) to join their group. When the real Ro returns, the superhumans snatch up Ro and take her off to their base, refusing to believe that she did not do anything. The Brain Trust plans to set off a radio tower to release radioactive waves onto the town, hoping the radiation would bring out other powers in children throughout the town.
197"Lost and Found"Curt Geda & T. J. HouseRandy RogelMay 11, 2002 (2002-05-11)TZP-20
While running from Krick, now out to destroy Zeta rather than turn him in, Zeta stops functioning. Ro gets him to an abandoned circus, then calls Bucky who comes over to help repair him. In the meanwhile, Zeta's last mission before going rogue is revealed. While replacing the suspected terrorist, Dolan, Zeta must go to his house posing as him. He observes Dolan's wife and child. He later finds out that Dolan is innocent and does not realize that he is helping to maneuver funds for the terrorist organization Brother's Day. This is the terrorist organization that Zeta is suspected to be working for. Later, Dolan discovers that Zeta is impersonating him, but Zeta decides not to terminate him. After working on him, Bucky says Zeta's mind is completely scrambled, and there may be nothing he can do. Then Ro explains what it was like for her at the girls home and what happened on the day she ran out. Krick eventually catches up with them and, at the last moment, Zeta recovers and disables him. Krick is then arrested. The disturbance to Zeta's mind is most likely caused by having his mind mostly deleted in "Wired".
208"Eye of the Storm"Tim MaltbyStory by : Ralph Soll
Teleplay by : Christopher Simmons
May 18, 2002 (2002-05-18)TZP-24
In Kansas, Zeta and Ro meet two brothers, who have designed a hover pod to disperse tornadoes, but the genius younger brother is overshadowed by his older brother, who does the piloting. The younger brother then goes off to stop a massive tornado alone.
219"Quality Time"Tim MaltbyStory by : Kevin Hopps & Ralph Soll
Teleplay by : Robert Goodman
July 13, 2002 (2002-07-13)TZP-18
Agent Bennett and Zeta are forced into an uneasy alliance when Ro and Bennet's son are trapped in a damaged submarine, which is sitting underneath an unstable coral reef.
2210"On the Wire"Curt GedaJoseph KuhrJuly 20, 2002 (2002-07-20)TZP-21
Bucky reunites Ro with her long-lost brother, Casey McCurdy, a reporter. His boss recognizes Ro as Zeta's accomplice and arranges for their network to get exclusive coverage of their capture. Unwilling to betray his sister, Casey helps them escape and promises to keep in touch through text news posts, as well as improving Zeta's public status.
2311"Cabin Pressure"Rob Davies & Olaf MillerLyle WeldonJuly 27, 2002 (2002-07-27)TZP-22
Bucky is apprehended by the NSA, believing that he has a connection to Brother's Day, forcing Zeta and Ro to rescue him before Bennett gets his hands on Bucky's universal remote.
2412"The River Rising"Curt GedaStory by : Paul Diamond
Teleplay by : Joseph Kuhr
August 3, 2002 (2002-08-03)TZP-25
Zeta and Ro land in a "No-Tech" village, a group of people whose way of living is similar to that of Amish people, though more vehement in their disdain for technology. Meanwhile, Bennett has to obtain a warrant to search the village.
2513"The Hologram Man"Rob DaviesRobert Goodman & Joseph KuhrAugust 10, 2002 (2002-08-10)TZP-26
Zeta and Ro enter a top secret NSA debriefing building where infiltration units report after each mission to compare his memory with the records from his last mission. They stumble upon Dr. Selig, who steals classified data and delivers it to Tidus Sweete, a high ranking soldier from the Brother's Day terrorist group seen in "Lost and Found". He tells Sweete that he does not want to continue, so Tidus pulls a gun on him. Zeta saves him while Tidus escapes, but discovers that "Selig" is actually Dr. Marcus Edmund, the man who built Zeta's holographic emitters. Dr. Edmund was forced into helping Brother's Day destroy the government's highest level synthoid lab, the Gnosis, where Zeta was created and Selig works. With the aid of his personal holo-emitter, Ro and Zeta pose as one of Sweete's lackeys and Edmund, respectively. On the Gnosis, Zeta and Ro meet Selig, and he reveals that he created the mysterious module in Zeta, which functions as a conscience. Agent Bennett overhears everything. Sweete sets off the bombs he planted, forcing an emergency evacuation. Selig and his assistant try to escape in a pod, but Sweete shoots it down, apparently killing them. Zeta and Ro board a pod and barely escape as the Gnosis explodes. Though Zeta believes his creator to be dead, a mechanical hand emerges from the sea near the wreckage of Selig's craft, regenerating its flesh.
2614"The Wrong Morph"Curt GedaDavid BenulloNovember 23, 2002 (2002-11-23)(Canada)[17]TZP-23
While trying to find Dr. Selig by searching on the work computer of one of his peers, Dr. Morel, Ro and Zeta get involved in the theft of a synaptic enhancer, a device invented to help a disabled boy, Kevin, to walk. Zeta disguises himself as Kevin to gain access to the computer, and so Kevin is a suspect in the robbery. Zeta and Ro catch the real criminal to clear Kevin's name.

Broadcast history

Cancellation and future

Following the September 11 attacks, Kid's WB considered canceling The Zeta Project, but Bob Goodman convinced them he could keep the show running without even mentioning terrorists.[9] However, Kid's WB demanded that if the show were to be picked up for a third season, this season needed to end on a cliffhanger that appeared to kill Zee's creator, Dr. Selig.[19][20] Eventually, Kid's WB! told Bob that the finale would be the end of Zeta's search for Selig, and that a third season would reveal that Ro was also a robot,[21] and follow the "Scooby-Doo", adventure of the week, formula. Tired of network demands getting in the way of his vision, Bob ultimately quit the show. Interviews were held to replace him as show runner, but enthusiasm for the show lowered following his exit.[9]

In December 2004, John Schneider revealed he was working on a filmed version of the show with series creator Bob Goodman.[22] Bob later expanded, saying Warner Bros. Television Studios was interested in adapting the show in an hour long format. As producers, John and Bob developed a live action series that took liberties with the Zeta concept to fit the sensibilities of the network at the time, which included lessening the similarities to The Fugitive, since the recent reboot underperformed expectations. The show would have featured Ro working in the FBI's cyber crimes unit, with Zee having replaced her partner in the pilot. The show would have had them solving cases week to week while hunting down Zeta's creator and Ro's family.[9]

Over the years, Bob Goodman stated he would love to have a chance to finish the story,[23] and has expressed willingness to do so in comic form[9] or long-form straight-to-DVD format.[24] Over the years, he has hinted at many plot points for the unproduced seasons, including:

  • the hand seen in the cliffhanger being revealed to belong to Andrea Donoso, Selig's assistant/synthoid, who was charged with the solitary job of protecting him,[9][20][19]
  • Selig having a new plan with important work for Zeta,[20]
  • Ro's search for her family, focusing on her mother,[20]
  • plans for an Infiltration Unit 8,[9]
  • an episode referencing the fan theory that Agent West was a descendant of Wally West by giving him super-speed for one episode.[9]

Legacy

Influence

Despite the show's relative obscurity, The Zeta Project has made its way into many other DC projects. Early synthoid models bearing the resemblance of Zeta from his appearance in Batman Beyond and named Z-8s were seen in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited as a means of showing the evolution of government robots in the DCAU.[9] In 2013, Zeta appeared in Batman Beyond Unlimited #16 as part of the new Terrific Trio, alongside Plastic Man and Batman Beyond villain Earth Mover.[25] The seventh and eighth seasons of Arrow featured a 2040s set future where a company named Galaxy One unleashed robot soldiers named Zeta.[26] In 2021, Young Justice mentioned The Zeta Project in the Episode "Needful". The AI in 2022's Batman Unburied was named Zeta, after The Zeta Project.[27]

Accolades

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2001 Annie Awards Outstanding Individual Achievement for Music Score in an Animated Television Production Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion, Lolita Ritmanis, Shirley Walker Nominated
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Storyboarding in an Animated Television Production Adam Van Wyk Nominated
Women's Image Network Awards Best Daytime Series Won
Best Actress in a Daytime Series Julie Nathanson as Rosalie "Ro" Rowan Won
2002 Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion, Lolita Ritmanis, Shirley Walker Nominated
Women's Image Network Awards Best Actress in an Animated Series Julie Nathanson as Rosalie "Ro" Rowan Won
Best Actor in an Animated Series Diedrich Bader as Zeta Won
Paul Amendt as "Plug" Nominated
2003 Annie Awards Production Design In An Animated Television Production Rosalina Tchouchev Nominated
Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion, Lolita Ritmanis Nominated

Music

As with other DCAU shows before it, The Zeta Project was scored by Lolita Ritmanis, Michael McCuistion, Kristopher Carter and supervising composer Shirley Walker.[32] Working concurrently with the final season of Batman Beyond,[33] for Zeta's first season,[32] the Walker team worked to compose original music for each episode that blended the sound of a live orchestra composed of musicians hired from American Federation of Musicians Local 47, with more contemporary electronic elements the team recorded in their own studio.[34][32]

According to McCuistion, "Each episode was a different take, musically, and there were some threads of course, but I remember several of them having different musical environments, and that was really interesting creatively. [...] it certainly didn’t share any of the flavor of Batman Beyond in terms of music, I don’t think. It was very futuristic and very fun, but yeah, it didn’t have that sort of gritty, underworld cultural thing going on."[35]

The Zeta Project was the final show the Dynamic Music Partners (Ritmanis, McCuistion, Carter) had a live orchestra on,[35] and played a hand in the Dynamic Music Partner's being hired to score Treyarch's Spider-Man[36]

Emmy For Your Consideration CD Track Listing

Disc One (Total Time 18:21)
  • Main Title 1:01
  • Making Contact 2:36
  • His Maker's Name 1:05
  • Ro & Zee Meet Again 1:09
  • Desperate Escape 1:31
  • Bucky's Parent Woes 1:26
  • Zeta Escapes 1:35
  • Sorben Institute 0:51
  • Hide and Seek 1:09
  • West Gets Closer 1:42
  • Perryville 0:24
  • System Down 1:18
  • Kid Genius? 0:49
  • Nice Guy 0:57
  • Sweet Revenge 0:56[37]

Home video

First announced at Warner Home Video's annual Home Theater Forum chat in September 2008,[38] WHV (via DC Comics and Warner Bros. Family Entertainment) released the first season of The Zeta Project as a 2-DVD set for Region 1 on March 17, 2009. The bonus material for the set was handled by Retrofit Films, who reached out to fans of the series to help field interview questions for the cast and crew.[39][40] While the released disc featured a 16-minute documentary featurette, titled "The Making of Zeta", about the show's origin with commentary from the voice cast and production staff, the original press release stated the set would include a since unreleased 15–20 minute featurette titled "Finding Freedom", a roundtable discussion, in which the cast speculates on various theories of where the show would have gone while producer/show runner Robert Goodman and his team give the fans the definitive answers.[41]

The second season was initially reported to be on the way as early as December 2008.[42] The following month, series creator Bob Goodman teased that bonus features for the season 2 set were filmed at the same time of the season 1 features,[24] and later expanded that the season was slated to release in mid-2009 with a panel discussion featurette with Julie Nathanson, Liz Holzman, Joe Kuhr and himself that covered behind-the-scenes anecdotes.[43] However, sales for season one did not meet Warner Home Video's expectations, resulting in the cancelation of the Season 2 release.[44]

Alongside a re-printing of Season 1, Season 2 was finally announced for release by Warner Archive in February 2017[45] and arrived March 14, 2017. Attempts to locate the originally planned bonus features were unsuccessful, and they remain lost.[9] To promote the release, Warner Archive held the "Warner Archive Collection's Kids' WB Flashback" panel at WonderCon Anaheim, featuring Diedrich Bader, Julie Nathanson, and Bob Goodman, as well as Phil LaMarr, who was representing WAC's recent Static Shock DVD releases.[46][47]

DVD name # of episodes Release date Additional information
The Zeta Project: Season One 12 March 17, 2009, March 14, 2017 (re-release)
The Zeta Project: Season Two 14 March 14, 2017
  • Episodes 13–26
  • MOD release
  • available exclusively from Warner's online store and Amazon.com
  • No subtitles

Video game

Zeta Quest 3D was launched May 24, 2001. Advertised as a unique multi-environment, multi-level “walk-through” online video game, “Zeta Quest 3D,” let players assume the identity of Zeta, staying one step ahead of the NSA, while trying to clear his name. The game was built for the short lived CyberWorld QBORGs Browser System.[48] According to Bob Goodman, he and Joe Kuhr contributed to vetting the writing process of the game.[9] Not much is known about the plot, but many of the games original files are archived online and include a room named "IU8 Lab", suggesting the existence of an Infiltration Unit 8, as well as sprites of doctors seen in the episode "Absolute Zero".[49]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Greenberger, Robert (December 13, 2008). "'The Zeta Project' Comes to DVD in March". Comicmix.com. Archived from the original on March 4, 2021. Retrieved October 4, 2021.
  2. ^ Erickson, Hal (2005). Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949 Through 2003 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Co. p. 940. ISBN 978-1476665993.
  3. ^ Perlmutter, David (2018). The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 724–725. ISBN 978-1538103739.
  4. ^ a b Carlson, KC (March 17, 2009). "The Zeta Project Season 1". Comics Worth Reading. Archived from the original on March 24, 2009. Retrieved October 4, 2021.
  5. ^ a b Bob Goodman, "The Making of Zeta - How the Character and the Series Evolved", The Zeta Project, Warner Bros, Season One DVD.
  6. ^ a b Nedelcu, Ovi. "Ovi Nedelcu Interview". ZeeRo Shipper. Archived from the original on May 26, 2005. Retrieved November 6, 2022.
  7. ^ a b c "What Happened to THE ZETA PROJECT? The Canceled Batman Beyond Spin-Off". Watchtower Database. November 1, 2022. Retrieved November 6, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ "ZETA vs BATMAN and How Warner Bros. Almost Killed JUSTICE LEAGUE (Writer Rich Fogel)". Watchtower Database. May 30, 2021. Retrieved November 6, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Bob Goodman Reveals THE ZETA PROJECT Season 3...and 4?! (24-Hour Birthday Bash)". Watchtower Database. October 30, 2020. Retrieved November 6, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ "Bios - Zeta / Zee". World's Finest. Retrieved November 24, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ "Bios - Rosalie Rowen / Ro". World's Finest. Retrieved November 24, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ "Bios - Dr. Selig". World's Finest. Retrieved November 24, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ "Bios - Agent Lee". World's Finest. Retrieved November 24, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ "Bios - Bucky Buenaventura". World's Finest. Retrieved November 24, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ "Bios - Infiltration Unit Seven (IU7)". World's Finest. Retrieved November 24, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. ^ YTV air logs November 2001
  17. ^ YTV air logs November 2002
  18. ^ a b "Tooncast estreia "Projeto Zeta"". TV Magazine (in Portuguese). December 28, 2020. Archived from the original on January 10, 2021. Retrieved October 4, 2021.
  19. ^ a b Kuhr, Joe. "Interviews - The World's Finest talks to Series Writer, Joseph Kuhr". The World's Finest. Retrieved November 22, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. ^ a b c d Goodman, Bob. "Interviews - The World's Finest talks to Series Creator, Robert Goodman". The World's Finest. Retrieved November 22, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  21. ^ Goodman, Bob (May 11, 2013). "Bob Goodman and Julie Nathanson on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved November 22, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. ^ Schneider, John (December 2, 2004). "John Schneider". John Schneider.tv. Retrieved November 22, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  23. ^ Goodman, Bob (August 17, 2019). "Bob Goodman on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved November 22, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  24. ^ a b Harvey, James (January 12, 2009). "Goodman Discusses Upcoming "The Zeta Project: The Complete First Season" Release". The World's Finest. Retrieved November 24, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  25. ^ Fridolfs, Derek (August 9, 2013). "JUSTICE SERVED - "IN GODS WE TRUST"". DEREK FRIDOLFS - The Art Of Writing & The Writing About Art. Retrieved November 22, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  26. ^ Morrison, Matt (May 7, 2019). "Arrow Brought Batman Beyond's Robot Assassins To The Arrowverse". Screen Rant. Retrieved November 22, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  27. ^ Carrasco, Eric (August 28, 2022). "Eric Carrasco on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved November 22, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  28. ^ "29th Annual Annie Awards". Annie Awards. Retrieved November 23, 2022.
  29. ^ a b c "The Zeta Project - Awards". The World's Finest. Retrieved November 23, 2022.
  30. ^ "Daytime Emmy Awards: 2002". IMDb. Retrieved November 23, 2022.
  31. ^ "30th Annual Annie Awards". Annie Awards. Retrieved November 23, 2022.
  32. ^ a b c "Batman: The Animated Series - A Celebration". Retrieved November 26, 2022.
  33. ^ "Talking Beyond with Kristopher Carter". Soundtrack.net. Retrieved November 25, 2022.
  34. ^ "The Zeta Project, Daytime Emmys Category #27 For Your Consideration CD". Retrieved November 25, 2022.
  35. ^ a b "Exclusive Interview – Dynamic Music Partners talks Young Justice: Outsiders, The Zeta Project, and DC music". Retrieved November 25, 2022.
  36. ^ "Spider-Man: The Music Interview". Retrieved November 26, 2022.
  37. ^ "Watchtower Database on Twitter". Retrieved November 27, 2022.
  38. ^ Harvey, James (September 16, 2008). ""The Zeta Project" On DVD In 2009, "Batman: The Animated Series" Blu-rays Considered". The World's Finest. Retrieved November 24, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  39. ^ Harvey, James (September 30, 2008). "Fans Given Opportunity To Help On Upcoming "The Zeta Project" DVD". The World's Finest. Retrieved November 24, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  40. ^ Harvey, James (October 9, 2008). "RetroFit Films Thanks Fans, Requests No Further "The Zeta Project" Contributions". The World's Finest. Retrieved November 24, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  41. ^ Harvey, James (February 13, 2009). "Press Release For Upcoming "The Zeta Project: The Complete First Season" DVD Title". The World's Finest. Retrieved November 24, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  42. ^ Harvey, James (December 10, 2008). "Warner Home Video Officially Announces Upcoming "The Zeta Project" DVD Release". The World's Finest. Retrieved November 24, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  43. ^ Harvey, James (March 16, 2009). "Goodman Discusses New "The Zeta Project: Season One" DVD Release, Menu Screens". The World's Finest. Retrieved November 24, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  44. ^ Harvey, James (May 26, 2009). "Goodman On "The Zeta Project: Season One" Sales, Future "The Zeta Project" Releases". The World's Finest. Retrieved November 24, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  45. ^ Harvey, James (February 28, 2017). ""Batman: The Brave And The Bold" Blu-ray, "Static Shock", "The Zeta Project"  DVDs Coming In March 2017". The World's Finest. Retrieved November 24, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  46. ^ Miereanu, Gary [@SuperPRGuy] (April 9, 2017). "Still laughed the most w/these folks at #WonderCon last Sunday on @WarnerArchive #KidsWB Flashback spotlighting #StaticShock #TheZetaProject" (Tweet). Archived from the original on December 3, 2022. Retrieved November 24, 2022 – via Twitter.
  47. ^ "Warner Archive Collection Spotlights Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Static Shock & The Zeta Project March 31-April 2 at #WonderCon /Anaheim". Action Figure Insider. March 27, 2017. Retrieved November 24, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  48. ^ "Warner Bros. Online Launches "Zeta Quest 3D," An All-New Web Adventure Based On Warner Bros. Animation's "The Zeta Project" Animated Series". Warner Bros. May 24, 2001. Retrieved November 26, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  49. ^ "Zeta Quest 3D Archive". Warner Bros. Retrieved November 26, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External links

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