February 03, 2003 12:00 PM

ABC (Mondays, 8 p.m. ET)

Teenage rebel Nikko Zond (Ryan Merriman) may have been booted out of four schools in three years, but he’s smart enough to translate Latin when he learns that his archeologist father, Solomon (Alex Carter), heads a secretive entity called the Veritas Foundation. “Truth about what?” Nikko asks in the Jan. 27 premiere of this busy, bewildering adventure series. “Everything,” Solomon replies.

Nikko has been wondering for years why his intrepid mother vanished before his eyes on an archeological expedition. Now he’d like a bit of hard info about the foundation, and his father chooses to offer only the vaguest generalities about finding pieces of the cosmic puzzle. The producers of Veritas apparently figure that if they keep us diverted with strange happenings and chase sequences, the show will never have to start making sense.

Nikko joins a Veritas team that includes a mysterious tough guy (Arnold Vosloo), the obligatory computer specialist (Cynthia Martells) and a nervous font of knowledge (Eric Balfour). Nikko’s crush on his pretty tutor (Cobie Smulders) fast proves tiresome, but Liz Vassey adds spice in an upcoming episode as a sexy tomb raider.

BOTTOM LINE: The truth isn’t out there

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