Terra Nova

Season 1 Episode 6

Bylaw

5
Aired Monday 8:00 PM Oct 31, 2011 on FOX
SUBMIT REVIEW

Episode Fan Reviews (9)

7.5
out of 10
Average
239 votes
  • Writers making it easy for the "haters..."

    4.0

    For weeks and weeks now, people who criticise the show have been called "haters." But those who call the critics that don't get it... no one sets out to watch TN to hate it. It's just that each and every week the writers do something so mind-numbingly inane that they open themselves to criticism.


    Let's take "Bylaw", for example. Again, we had an interesting premise (TN's first murder), but executed in the dumbest way you can ever imagine. For example:


    1. A persongoes through the trouble of baiting a dinosaur to kill his victim, when all this person had to do was kill thevictim with a weapon, drag the carcass out and let dinovultures pick the bones clean. Or, hell-- why not-- just dumpthe body in a bog, maybe?


    2. Jim Shannon in two seconds flat realizes that a person was "murdered by dinosaur"


    3. A man falsely confesses to a murder in order to protect his wife, who he thought killed the victim. So he risks "banishment" and disgraceto save a woman who not only married him under false pretenses, but cheated on him almost immediately. Keep in mind, too, that he is almost certain that his wife killed the victim-- in other words, meticulously researched what kinds of prey dinos eat; hacked into TN's security systems;tracked the victim's whereabouts; lied in wait in a dangerous setting to trap one dinosaur; used it as bait to trap another dinosaur; then successfully trapped carnivorous dinosaur in a small structure. Well of course she did that, what woman wouldn't? What?!


    4. "Banishment" is portrayed as practically adeath sentence, even though the Sixers are literally right around the corner ready to rescue the punished.


    5. "Banishment" is seen as a logical solution to the problem of crime, even though banishing someone almost always means adding one more recruit to the Sixer enemy camp


    I mean, my God... And then the writers for good measure throw in a worthless plot about a dino egg that needs to be saving?


    Given all that, is it any wonder that every damned week, Terra Nova gets picked apart by viewers? The writers couldn't have made it easier if they had tried. All in all, a poor episode that could've been much better had the writers taken the time to think this story through carefully.

  • The big question I have with Terra Nova is whether it's a dumb show or a smart series.

    7.0

    I want it to be a smart show, of course, because it's not fun enough to be a successful dumb show, and it has a lot of the pieces that would make it a really good smart show if it went that way. Based on tonight's episode, I feel confident in declaring: Terra Nova is a dumb show.


    Here's why: we've heard some rumblings about how Commander Taylor has created a justice system on Terra Nova that doesn't fit with our American, classical liberal ideals of fair trials, juries of peers, and so on. Tonight's episode took that head on, becoming, as a few people Tweeting about it noted, Law & Order: Terra Nova. This isn't actually a bad thing.I havetheories about "procedural world-building", where a show uses traditional one-episode forms to create a dense setting from which it can build fantastic stories. So Terra Nova's uninspiring first few episodes can maybe be seen as part of that school of thought. And tonight's episode would seem to fit in with them, but here's the thing: the world it helps to build isn't very good, and doesn't stand up at all to scrutiny.


    Specifically, I'm talking about Terra Nova and Commander Taylor's discussion of "law". A man is accused of murder, and confesses to the crime. So Taylor, according to the laws of Terra Nova, banishes him from the colony. Which is fine, except that Taylor proceeds to give a speech about how there are laws, and people have to follow those laws, otherwise the punishments are clear. And here's what makes it dumb: this isn't how laws work in our society. Laws exist, yes, but laws are balanced by rights, responsibilities, and traditions. They aren't simply "if you do a bad thing someone casts judgment upon you." They are "we have a set of rules which exist to protect the accused and give all sides a chance to exist within the system fairly." Now, obviously this doesn't work all of the time in the real world, let alone the fictional world. But when the show has Jim and Elisabeth Shannon get into an argument about the judicial process in Terra Nova without actually saying the words "jury of his peers"? There's something seriously wrong here.


    What makes it worse is that such discussions are often at the heart of great science fiction television. On Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Picard often had conflicts where his commitment to classical liberalism was tested, and it was almost universally proved correct in the end. Alternately, a show like Battlestar Galactica had its authority figures, Adama and Roslin, wrestle with the issues of the flaws in process versus the dangers of authoritarianism, and make their decision with full knowledge that they could be wrong. On Terra Nova, Taylor and Shannon basically decide that having a strong, wise authoritarian patriarch is ideal...and that's it. There's an argument, yes, but it's entirely surface-level. It's simply two people who disagree with each other. They don't cite the Constitution, they don't cite political philosophy or theory. It's like someone yelling at someone they disagree with about a link on Facebook. It is, in a word, dumb.


    With that dumbness acknowledged, there's still something that works about Terra Nova. It doesn't work well, but if you want to turn something on in the background while you drink beer and play browser games, hey, this is damn adequate! I don't know if the ratings are adequate. I don't know if the word-of-mouth are adequate to gather more viewers to improve those ratings. And I really don't think adequate is good enough for a show with this much potential on the artistic end, and this high of a budget on the business end. Terra Nova: do better.

  • Coolest show with the dumbest scripts / characters!

    8.0

    I like this show, despite its silly and stupid scripts, bad acting and terribly dumb characters, i would like to see it survive a few series purely for the sci-fi side of things.


    Ever since the Star Trek series finished years ago, apart from Fringe, just not enough good sci-fi and it really sucks.


    I could go into great depth into why this episode was so dumb but i'm sure it's already been covered by the reviews below.


    Interestingly enough, I think the character stupidity actually adds comedy value for me so i'll keep watching until the bitter end, lol

  • Bylaw

    6.0
    Welcome to "CSI: New Land". Murrrderrr! If there was something that was missing quite a lot so fast that already dropped a formula is no doubt leave now dragging to another, the typical cases of officers who meet weekly for much of the programming of CBS (and almost all other channels, albeit at lower doses).



    I must say that with all the rebellion of the Sixers, and the problems they have raised, stay a bit incredulous that so far has never been a murder in "Terra Nova", but if the Commander Taylor (Stephen Lang) says so, who am I to contradict him?



    So here is the story of the first murder in "Terra Nova": four characters never before seen and which, consequently, there is no sentimental attachment, are the protagonists. One uses a dinosaur to kill the other (of course, this could only be the weapon of choice!) Because of money, but who wrote this episode, as any mystery should be written, is the time to divert our attention to the other two players (a couple), and the possibility that it is a crime of passion. The problem is that not everyone who does not know already the structure of this kind of story I knew almost from the beginning that the couple had nothing to do with the crime, then the successive plans camera to reveal the identity of the criminal over episode were more than enough clues to unravel this intrincadssimo (!) case.



    Behind all this banality, I recognize that there is a good intention to try to explore what the feeling would create a society that tries to start again and ends up dropping into old habits (*). The big problem is that the way the episode was conducted which resulted in the same let the feeling yet another episode of "CSI" last in the jungle of what exactly a case study on the human condition (and zero impact to the scene of funeral took is a good example).



    (*) The scene closer to achieving this is the one that Taylor decides that the sentence to give the alleged murderer is basically the death (the way of Newfoundland, of course, that is cast into the jungle at the mercy of all the dangers that exist out there). However, implementation of the scene takes you up and feeling is strange when one sees, for example, Maddy (Naomi Scott) almost compulsively to cry because it is hard to see / feel through the scene why is she crying ( It is concerned with the offender? Newfoundland is sad because he fell into old habits?).



    However, the episode also features two other secondary storylines, one involving the birth of a baby dinosaur (a la "Jurassic park") and another that comes from previous episodes and joined Josh (Landon Liboiron) to Mira (Christine Adams ), which gave some impetus to the episode but it was so late in even if they never could have an impact sufficient to prevent this tragedy ...
  • After a soldier gets killed by a small dinosaur everyone thinks it was an accident. But Jim suspects foul play... contains spoilers.

    6.0

    At yet another small outpost a lonely soldier opens the door to a small station and gets killed by a small raptor-like dinosaur that has been waiting inside.


    The first think that comes to my mind is the question of what the hell he was doing far out all alone. I mean this is supposed to be dangerous territory and there is no one to back him up!?


    When the Terra Nova team investigates the scene everyone believes the guy had forgoten to close the door behind him and the dinosaur dropped in on him, but Jim, the ex-cop finds evidence that the dinosaur had been in the station before and suspects murder.


    After some CGI-dinosaur hunting and some CSI-style investigation that looks cool with 22nd century gadgets but feels very set-up more clues come up that the dinosaur had been planted there intentionally and after some short "asking questions" a scapegoat is found fast and banned from the colony.


    Of course that guy later turns out to be innocent and another soldier who owed money to the victim had been the murderer. Taylor beats the guy up and bans him from the colony.


    Then there are those other secondary stories. Josh once again does foolish stuff trying to bring his girl friend from the 22nd century in and ends up making a deal with the supposed bad guys, the sixers.


    Zoe once again finds something to keep that any sane adult would probably deem to dangerous for a small child.


    Overall this episode was very predictable and fits in perfectly with the rest of this show's mediocrity. In the condition the show is in and remains in for now it is watchable as one of the few sci-fi-shows around but I'm pretty sure that the show wouldn't be missed if it got axed or even remembered for very long.


    Actually this is very sad since the original trailers and announcements looked so good. The whole set up has so much potential but it fails to live up to that in every single episode so far. Even the dinosaur-interactions are kept to a minimum - the british show Primeval did that much better altough their creatures looked a bit more like CGI then the ones on Terra Nova. I hope they do get things going soon - most sci-fi shows need about 2 seasons to really get good.


    But right now, even I as a die-hard sci-fi-fan wouldn't miss this show if it went away. I would only be sad about all the wasted potential of a really great idea.


  • Taylor is presented with a dilemma which could split loyalties within the community. Elizabeth attempts to save a baby dinosaur while Jim investigates the death of a soldier.

    8.5

    * spoilers*


    This week we had the investigation of an accident, the confession of a murderer and the banishment of a colonist, with a side of egg surgery to go.


    I enjoyed this episode; for all its plot stretches the scripts were delightful, although a little short when dealing with the big issues - like the lack of evidence and a trial.


    But, I don't think this episode was trying to address the judicial situation in TN. I think this episode was yet another 'setup' - a gentle sway toward larger arcs where issues can unfold organically.


    On its own Bylaw delivers the message that TN is a tiny beacon of civilisation in a vast wilderness - this is the wild west, Taylor is the Governor and Jim the new sheriff in town. Fair and practical laws are well known and accepted - and it's Jim's job to catch the right bad-guy.


    The main story is Jim's investigation, cleverly connecting an assortment of characters throughout the Colony, making this a fun story as all the layers peel back.


    It's the first murder in town and Banishment is the sentence Taylor must deliver, along with his credibility. As the sentence most likely means death for the accused sentiment within the community fractures - and this may be the event which summons social change.


    Elisabeth challenges Jim about false confessions and whilst people may criticize the length of the scene, it's more than adequate to establish doubt, which is a corner stone in modern judicial proceedings.


    When Jim reveals his mistake to Taylor i was surprised at the honesty in the writing and the power of the scene, this is TN at its best (so far).


    However, some may be irritated that a despot runs TN and that due process was completely absent.


    And this brings me back to why things are the way they are in Terra Nova. The colonists have vowed to "start over" and that isn't just about overpopulation & pollution, but also the chance to start from scratch, possibly avoiding the mistakes of the society they just left, in all aspects of life - legal, social, ethical, technological and so on.


    Now that a murder has occurred, the door opens for legal communities to form, civil libertarian groups to muster and suffrage movements to begin. Props to the writers - this opens up a multitude of dramatic possibilities, particularly since Taylor's reputation will suffer Jim's mistake.


    Lastly, Zoe and the Jurassic Turkey - i don't think this was just thrown in for fun - it suggests possible dino domestication - and that could be really cool.


    A great installment.



  • Rubbissh episode

    6.0

    I really didnt like this episode of terra nova it was just so boring the premise itself was ok and something only terra nova could do i mean law and order couldent have a dinosaur as a weapon its just the way the writers execute it, with bad writing, bad characters and silly plotting, the sub plot with the dinosaur egg was boring and the whole josh thing had some intrest at the end with the sixers but did nothing to make the character of josh more likeable, so overall this was another stinker of and episode that sufferd from the troubles as the other episodes,

  • It is painful to watch, actually. From the violins and epic score to Zoey's "can we keep him" - what a a disaster.

    2.5

    This episode will definitely be the last one I'd watch. The actors are "acting", the dialogue is fairly better than a porn flick's one, even the special effects with the running dinosaur were pathetic. The show itself has a big potential, but it falls in so many cliches that I don't think it will survive even the first season. It's a pity to watch a great actor like Jason O'Mara buried in this ...disaster. What a waste.

    Again - this is only my personal opinion.

  • Bylaw

    9.0

    Bylaw was a superb and awesome episode of Terra Nova. I really enjoyed watching this episode as it seemed to delve deeper into the humanity of the people living in Terra Nova as a terrible crime has been committed. The story was well written and I enjoyed the mystery of who did it. Jim was pretty good in this episode and it was interesting how he dealt with his son who is now working. Josh makes a deal with Mira that we know will come back to bite him and I look forward to finding out what it may be. I can't wait for the next episode!!!!!!!

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