Recently I've been having some quite intersting discussions with Munchkinofdoom re the change between S1 and S2 with Connor, and the sudden appearance of his techie computer and engineering skills. Leaving aside how much you take canon at face value for the use of these skills (which myself and Munchkin do entirely disagree about), I've been thinking about the reasons behind the changes, and why they were so radical.
In S1 Connor was largely just a dino-geek, and with his database he was clearly set up to be the character that provided information about the creatures and the time periods. However, I have a feeling that the writers dropped a bit of a clanger, because that role, to a great extent, was already taken by Cutter, who is clearly the star of the show, and Connor's knowledge merely duplicates Cutter's, and Cutter is also better at it. See, for example, 1.2, where Cutter got trapped in the underground and without him the others had to resort to consulting Connor and his database to identify the arthropleurid. On emerging from the underground, Cutter himself then demonstates that he has come to exactly the same conclusions re the identification, without any reference to Connor or his database - he simply knew it. It could be taken as bad editing, or if you chose to take canon at face value it can also be taken as an example that Cutter is simply better and knows more than Connor - not surprising considering one is a professor and the other his student.
The problem here is that in ensemble shows, it generally works better if each team member has something different to bring to the mix. Okay, certain things, such as action and fighting, tend to be across the board to some extent (although there are usually a couple of specialist characters in the actions roles - see Ryan and Stephen), but in terms of skills and knowledge there's usually a bit more of a distribution, with very little overlap or duplication. This then gives the opportunity for episodes where each individual member of the team can shine in their own unique area. Hence the problem with Connor. In S1 he had nothing unique to bring to the team. Anything he could do, Cutter could do better, so Connor was fequently just used as the comic relief character.
It has been said in interviews that the writers to some extent used the timeline shift in S2 to re-work the characters a little, and to rectify where things didn't quite work in S1. I suspect they realised what they had done with the duplication of skills, and that was why they made such a radical change to Connor. They expanded and extraploated from the database that we saw in S1, and gave him previously unseen computer/electronics/enginering skills, and at the same time they subtly shuffled the dino-geekery to one side. This kills two birds with one stone - it gives Connor a skill set that is unique to him, and it stops him stealing any of the limelight from Cutter, the star of the show, when it comes to palaeontological info-dumping.
It will be interesting to see what they do in S3, given the rumours of the potential... absence... of Cutter in S3 and beyond, and whether or not they quietly shuffle Connor back in to the role of dino-geek, should the position become vacant.
Now all they need to do is give Abby some decent opportunities to use her animal skills and we will all be happy.
These are just my thoughts, and I thought it would be interesting to throw them out for discussion. What do you guys think?