Zenon: Z3

Zenon: Z3

We are living in an age where “Z3” could mean two different things on Disney Channel: Zombies or Zenon! I’m writing this just a couple weeks away from the Zombies 3 release on Disney+. We’re entering a new era of Disney Channel movies in which they won’t all be classified as DCOMs anymore. But Disney Channel had also entered a new era in 2004, when the DCOM brand was going strong, and its stars had just begun introducing themselves with wand IDs. Kirsten Storms was well-established as a Disney Channel star. Along with the Zenon trilogy, she had roles in Johnny Tsunami and Kim Possible, and even a guest spot on That’s So Raven. In her other life, she was (and still is) a soap opera star.

Zenon: Z3 movie poster

Zenon: Z3 finds Zenon Kar a little older and more independent. Her parents aren’t around for this one, but Commander Plank and Aunt Judy are there with their newly-adopted 10-year-old daughter, Dasha. Written by Stu Krieger and directed by Steve Rash, the story takes place on the moon, where Zenon and her friends enter an athletic competition ahead of the Moonstock festival, hosted by Pat Numbar. I didn’t know what Woodstock was as an elementary school kid, but now that I do, the name “Moonstock” is hilarious. We know from Zenon: The Zequel that our protagonist has a gift for communicating with non-humans. Just as she once helped the aliens, Zenon accepts a unique mission in this movie, but she doesn’t have much of a choice. The moon goddess Selena will demolish the earth if Zenon can’t get everyone off the moon. Selena doesn’t want her habitat filled with corporate events. We learn about this through a series of Zenon’s dreams, which become reality. We knew Greg was old news, but alas, there’s no Orion to help Zenon, either. Her love interest this time is Sage Borealis (LOL), a rebel who is also against moon capitalism. He teams up to help Zenon save the day — get everyone off that moon. It’s no surprise that she accomplishes the mission.

I’m intrigued by the friends in this film. Raven returns as Nebula, only for a couple of brief appearances. She had this role in the first film but was unavailable for the second, so Shadia Simmons became Nebula for the Zequel. The third movie keeps fan-favorite mean girl Margie (Lauren Maltby) and introduces “Cassi,” who also competes in the contest. Margie pairs up with a vain competitor named Bronley Hale (these names, I love them!). Cousin Dasha is Zenon’s mini-me (she has even created a scrapbook of Zenon’s previous space adventures). Dasha tags along for the action of the film after running away; she thought her new mom and dad wanted to get rid of her, but they were actually talking about a puppy. And of course, we must consider Proto Zoa. Phillip Rhys did not reprise his iconic role, so Nathan Anderson is the new Proto Zoa. It works, though, because the rock star’s entire plot in this film revolves around the sad possibility that he’s a has-been. The crowd no longer goes wild for “The Galaxy is Ours.” They want to hear Cosmic Blush instead. Thankfully, Proto Zoa gets a career boost at the end by performing with the Cosmic Blush group.

On that note, I think Zenon: Z3 was a relic of a bygone era of Disney Channel. When it premiered in ’04, Disney Channel programming was pretty different from the lineups that existed during the previous Zenon movies. So Weird, Lizzie McGuire, Even Stevens, The Famous Jett Jackson, and The Jersey had all completed their episodes. Lizzie and Even Stevens would air on Disney Channel in reruns until they began syndication on WGN Superstation in 2006, but other shows had ceased airplay entirely. Overall, the Disney Channel identity was changing considerably by 2004 — new shows, new DCOMs, new Disney pop stars on the rise. Looking back on it, it’s fun to think of Z3 as a film that both older and newer Disney Channel fans could enjoy at the time. Viewers could even look for hidden Zs in the background on premiere night, with Z reveals hosted by Kirsten Storms during commercial breaks. If you never saw the final installment of Zenon’s story, go check it out!

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