“Bylaw” – Dino-Murder, She Wrote.

After a blessed reprieve thanks to the World Series, Fox’s “Terra Nova” returned in full pre-historical force Monday night, with a new record: barely a minute into the hour before some poor soul became dino-lunch.

Par for the course in Terra Nova; G.I. Joe Taylor makes the point that the settlement has lost many people since its beginnings, but this one is different. This Death-By-Dino is Dino-Murder.

It’s more of a crime of passion, really, as the soldier digesting in the raptor’s stomach had the poor sense to carry on with a (married) woman. It’s a matter of one commercial break before her husband confesses to baiting the raptor, trapping it and waiting for the solider to arrive to dinner. The murder is solved in about 15 minutes flat, but wait – too neat and tidy of a resolution, you say? With 45 minutes left in the hour, you betcha it’s too tidy.

Hero-Cop Jim’s gut is telling him the man’s innocent; unfortunately, Jim’s gut tells him this AFTER Taylor’s banished the husband to the jungle. (BRB, let’s go fetch him before it’s too late. OK, we’re good now.)

So, the husband’s innocent, the wife’s innocent, even Boylan, the man who runs the illegal gambling circles the soldier and his buddies frequented, is innocent (more on Boylan in a bit). Hmm, but the camera keeps on focusing in on the dead soldier’s gambling buddy in the background at odd moments.

Now, really, “Terra Nova,” how many of those furtive camera focuses did we need? You gave us at least three, and I called it after the first one. Jim and his gut apparently called it, too, as he and Taylor had the whole bit with the husband staged. Cheap shot, “Terra Nova.” Gambling-Soldier gets his butt handed to him by Taylor and is promptly banished. Everyone’s happy.

Eh, almost everyone.  Overall, “Terra Nova” views are fluctuating. Numbers had dropped off after the premiere, falling from 9.22 million viewers to 7 million by the third week. Inexplicably, numbers rose for the most recent episode, with 8.31 million viewers. In comparison, that’s still more than “The Office,” and much less than “Two-and-a-Half Men,” which pulls in more than 15 million viewers a week. No accounting for taste these days.

Other plot line that exists: The embodiment of teenage angst, Josh is now working for Boylan, the gambling man who also promised to find a way to bring Josh’s 2149 girlfriend back to Terra Nova. In order to make that happen, Josh makes some questionable allegiances with the Sixers (nothing as binding as a blood oath, but still some pretty heavy-handed stuff), even though Skye tells him it’s a bad idea. I think that’s more than just the hormones talking on Skye’s part. I’m with her on this one – this is a genuinely bad idea, one that’ll have serious repercussions in future episodes.

Cutest Dinosaur Award: Whatever the heck was in that dino-egg Elisabeth and Malcolm were caring for throughout the episode. Zoe grows attached to the egg and the handicapped dino-fetus it holds, and it took all of one wide-eyed look from her to make me wish the Shannon family adopted it whenever it did hatch. It did, and they did, and let me tell you, I would welcome that little, cooing dino-baby into my home in a heartbeat. My cat would get used to it eventually.