Indiana Jones was successful as a film series because it was able to mix a perfect balance of edge-of-your-seat adventure, self-effacing humor and nostalgic fun, and Harrison Ford embodied those characteristics flawlessly in the casual coolness of his swaggering performance.

Todd Weiser
Courtesy of ABC
A tribe called terrible.

ABC’s new adventure drama “Veritas: The Quest” is clearly influenced by that franchise but lacks all of the aforementioned qualities, including the necessary Indy-type hero. Instead, “Veritas” tries to fashion itself into an archaeologically-themed adventure show by breaking apart Indy’s character and divvying up his personality among four or five different people.

First, there is Nikko Zond (Ryan Merriman), an intelligent but rebellious teenager trying to cope with the recent death of his renowned archaeologist mother. Not much help is his workaholic father, Solomon (Alex Carter), who Nikko comes to find out is not the university professor he seems to be. He is, in fact, the head of the Veritas Foundation, a group seeking the truth behind the mysteries of history and civilization.

Somehow along the way, Nikko inadvertently gets mixed up in his father’s dangerous world. Other Veritas members include Vincent Siminou, (Arnold Vosloo, “The Mummy”), Solomon’s mysterious right-hand man, Calvin Banks (Eric Balfour), another brilliant but eccentric archaeologist and Juliet Droil (Cobie Smulders), a former student of Solomon’s who has been assigned the task of keeping Nikko out of trouble.

The show is watchable, albeit in a blindingly logic-defiant way. Its attempt to pack comprehensive history lessons into a show that’s too dumb for its own good, however, leaving some story holes untouched and others filled in with illogical plot gimmicks, places it just under the intelligence level of “Walker, Texas Ranger.” The action scenes don’t fare any better, with techno-beats pilfered right out of “Alias” complementing unnecessary fighting and chase sequences.

If last week was any indication, ABC’s Super Monday lineup – consisting of “Veritas: The Quest,” “The Practice” and fellow newcomer “Miracles” – should be dismantled before February sweeps is over.

1 1/2 Stars

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