DC Animated Universe
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DC Animated Universe

The Zeta Project is an animated series that ran from 2001 to 2002. It was a spinoff of the Batman Beyond episode "Zeta".

Infiltration Unit Zeta was built by the government to replace and eliminate targeted enemies. On one mission, however, he learned that the man he was sent to kill was innocent and made the decision not to destroy anymore. Unfortunately for Zeta, the government believes he has been reprogrammed by the organization he had been infiltrating and will stop at nothing to retrieve the renegade synthoid.

On the run from the National Security Agency, Zeta is joined by Rosalie Rowan, a sarcastic, street-smart runaway searching for her family. With Ro's help, "Zee" learns that his only chance for freedom is to find his creator, Doctor Eli Selig.

Goodman said he had the idea for a spinoff from "Zeta" when the episode was in pre-production, after the Batman Beyond team had been socialising after the Emmy Awards: "The Fugitive but with a runaway robot". His original intention was to make a show "darker" than Batman Beyond and the intention was to use the original design, with use of laser guns. The network pushed for a more kid-friendly, lighter approach. Zeta's design was redone to be more "relatable" as a result, a decision Goodman felt was correct, and Zeta was possibly recast due to a network design for a friendlier voice. [1]

The network's directive led to the show being brightly coloured, often set in daylight, and with an entirely pacifistic Zeta and somewhat less aggressive Bennett. (Notably, when both appear in Beyond episode "Countdown", they are far more violent than on Zeta Project with Zeta throwing Jokerz off a bridge and Bennett recklessly endangering bystanders!) Underneath the surface brightness, however, the show remained about a former sanctioned killer, with plots involving extrajudicial assassinations, government coverups, and the basic idea of the government (as one character put it) "sending infiltration units home to their [targets] wives and kids"[2].

Robots based on Zeta's original form would appear in Justice League Unlimited, an intentional nod to show the start of the government's synthoid projects. [3]

It had almost been cancelled after S1 due to the events of 9/11 and to save it, the show had to cut the word "terrorist". [4] You can see Brother's Day abruptly be called 'criminals' instead when they appear in S2.


Cancellation and unmade seasons

Goodman planned a four year semi-serialised arc, partly mapped out based on The Fugitive and how many episodes Lt. Gerard (for Bennett) and the One-Armed Man (Selig) made appearances. A now-lost online flash game called Zeta Quest 3D came out in May 2001 with an Infiltration Unit 8. In his Watchtower interview, Goodman confirmed he did have plans for an IU8 (but has since forgotten most of them) and had some input in the game. [5]

However, the show was cancelled in its second season at the eleventh hour, with the crew unsure if the network would renew it. The show was ordered to have a cliffhanger, the death of Eli Selig and a robotic hand out of the water, as a ratings boost just in case the network decided to renew. Robert Goodman said in an interview with Worlds Finest Online that this made him unsure where to take the show. "I also knew that if we did come back, the network wanted to take the show in directions I didn't want to go... I was wondering if it wouldn't be best to let the curtain go down right then and there." [6]

On 12 May 2013, Goodman finally revealed one of those directions when he tweeted that "one of the twists the network wanted" was that Ro would be a robot.[7]

In an interview with Watchtower Database on 30th October 2020, Goodman would reveal that the show had been cancelled because he quit, saying the network's kid friendly demands ("no fighting, no bad guys") was making it "impossible" to produce the show he wanted or get stories through. (Several episodes had natural disasters as a threat because this was what they had to use instead of villains) The final straw was that the Season 3 WB wanted was about Zeta and Ro as public good guys solving crimes together. WB was unable to get a replacement showrunner. [8]

Goodman made it clear that Zeta and Ro wouldn't have become a couple; "sorry to disappoint, 'shippers." [9]

Zeta revival pitch

Jon Schnieder planned to create a live-action Zeta Project reboot with Bob Goodman. He originally mentioned it on his website, which was confirmed in 2020 by Goodman. It would not have been modeled after The Fugitive was WB TV had recently done a failed reboot of it and it was a "dirty word" at the company. Instead, Ro was an FBI cyber crimes agent and Zeta had 'replaced' her partner, and they would solve tech crimes every week in a procedural.[10]

Cast

Production Crew

Creators

Producers

Directors

Writers

Casting

Episodes

Season One

Airdate Order Prod. Order Title Directed by Written by Airdate Opponent(s)
01 01 The Accomplice Curt Geda Robert Goodman January 27, 2001 Agent Bennet & NSA
02 02 His Maker's Name Tim Maltby Hilary J. Bader February 3, 2001 Agent Bennet & NSA
03 04 Remote Control Curt Geda Ralph Soll February 10, 2001 Bucky & Donald Tannor
04 03 Change of Heart Bob Doucette Kevin Hopps February 17, 2001 Agent Bennet & NSA
05 05 The Next Gen Tim Maltby Hilary J. Bader February 24, 2001 IU7
06 06 West Bound Bob Doucette Stacey Liss Goodman & Robert Goodman March 10, 2001 Agent Bennet & NSA
07 07 Hicksburg Curt Geda Paul Diamond March 31, 2001 Agent Bennet & NSA
08 08 Shadows Tim Maltby Hilary J. Bader April 7, 2001 IU7
09 09 Crime Waves Bob Doucette Kevin Hopps April 14, 2001 Sven
10 10 Taffy Time Tim Maltby Hilary J. Bader May 5, 2001 Krick
11 11 Ro's Reunion Tim Maltby Katy Cooper & Ned Teitelbaum May 12, 2001 Agent Bennet & NSA, Harry Lux
12 12 Kid Genius Bob Doucette Paul Diamond August 11, 2001 Donald Tannor
13 13 Absolute Zero Curt Geda Robert Goodman & Kevin Hopps March 23, 2002 Agent Bennet & NSA

Season Two

Airdate Order Prod. Order Title Directed by Written by Airdate Opponent(s)
01 14 Wired, Part I Curt Geda Robert Goodman March 30, 2002 Agent Bennet & NSA, Meg, Plug and Buss
02 15 Wired, Part II Liz Holzman Robert Goodman April 6, 2002 Agent Bennet & NSA
03 19 Resume Mission Rob Davies Ralph Soll April 13, 2002 IU7
04 16 Hunt in the Hub T.J. House Paul Diamond April 20, 2002 Thomas Boyle, NSA
05 17 Ro's Gift Rob Davies Hilary J. Bader & Joseph Kuhr April 27, 2002 Brain Trust
06 20 Lost and Found Curt Geda & T.J. House Randy Rogel May 11, 2002 Krick
07 24 Eye of the Storm Tim Maltby Ralph Soll May 18, 2002 Tornadoes
08 18 Quality Time Tim Maltby Kevin Hopps & Ralph Soll July 13, 2002 Agent Bennet
09 21 On the Wire Curt Geda Joseph Kuhr July 20, 2002 Agent Bennet & NSA
10 22 Cabin Pressure Rob Davies & Olaf Miller Lyle Weldon July 27, 2002 Agent Bennet & NSA
11 25 The River Rising Curt Geda Paul Diamond August 3, 2002 Agent Bennet & NSA, No-Tech
12 26 The Hologram Man Rob Davies Robert Goodman & Joseph Kuhr August 10, 2002 Brother's Day, Agent Bennet & NSA
13 23 The Wrong Morph Curt Geda David Benullo August 17, 2002 Dr. Myrell, Blake

Home Video

See also

References

External links

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