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'FlashForward' returns with complications

THE SHOW "FlashForward"

WHEN | WHERE Thursday night at 8 on ABC/7

REASON TO WATCH Back after a long hiatus, with special guest appearance by Ricky Jay as arch-villain Flosso.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT In this series, based on the Robert J. Sawyer novel of the same name, the human population of the world plunges into a two-minute-plus blackout. During those seconds people get a brief snapshot of their future six months hence. But millions die in the catastrophe. FBI agents Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes) and Demetri Noh (John Cho) get on the case, while grappling with their own troubling visions. Only one person did not black out: "Suspect Zero," and everyone wants to find this dude.

CATCHING UP / THURSDAY'S EPISODE Particle physicist Lloyd Simcoe (Jack Davenport) - who may or may not have something to do with the blackout - has been snatched by persons unknown. His partner, Simon Campos (Dominic Monaghan) has been enlisted in the search. Meanwhile, we get a new character: Let's call him "Obi Window Washer" (fan sites have). Played by Gil Bellows ("Ally McBeal"), he was nearly killed after falling from a building; his vision told him he would be a messianic figure, spreading the truth of the visions. Life, he realizes, "isn't about fate versus free will. It's fate and free will."

MY SAY ABC and the producers of "FlashForward" 2.0 promised a faster-paced show with reveals stacked upon reveals, and they have absolutely delivered. There's a doozy toward the end, along with some satisfying guest roles (master magician Jay!), while Monaghan now commands center stage as the brilliant scientist with a creepy, crawly soul.

That's the good news; now the bad. There are many stories to service, too many, and in the act of juggling them all, the narrative can get rough and choppy. That's right - I got a little seasick on occasion.

BOTTOM LINE You've got to love a big, smart, ambitious show that incorporates hypothetical subatomic particles like tachyons - which could move faster than light - or plasma Wakefield accelerators into the story line. I certainly do. Will everyone else?

GRADE B+

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