I've been rewatching the whole series lately since I had only watched it once before. I really love the show, just as much as I did Buffy. I didn't watch it while it was on air because I didn't like Angel when he was on Buffy and I didn't think I could tolerate the character for an entire hour. I'm glad I was way wrong.
The whole series is great. I think its more consistent than Buffy on a season by season basis. Seasons 3-5 are particularly good. But I think season 5 is my favorite. And that is in no small part because of the return of Spike. He is probably my favorite character ever. It also has to do with the fact that Joss did what he does best, which was take something and turn it on its head. Putting the gang in Wolfram and Hart was just a gold mine.
Of course, putting them there created a lot of problems for the gang. And that comes to a head when you get to the episode I watched tonight, "A Hole in the World". If you've seen the show you are probably getting teary-eyed just thinking about it. It's just completely heartbreaking. Some probably think its cruel. But you can't deny its compelling television. And even though it hurts, what comes of it provides for more compelling stuff in the rest of the season.
Not only is the writing great but the acting is fantastic. The whole series showed off the acting. But this episode really let Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof shine. The pain Alexis' character has gone through over the past few seasons reaches a boiling point and he just makes you hurt right along with the character. And I absolutely adore Amy Acker. I think everyone should carry around a picture of Amy smiling with them so that when they are feeling down, they can look at it and be happy. Her smile, her eyes, and her voice are just so beautiful and soothing. And the way she shows her character withering away is incredible.
Its episodes like these that make me love Joss Whedon. He takes the time to build characters that you love. And they aren't perfect people. Angel and Spike have killed hundreds of people. Wesley does some pretty immoral stuff. Cordellia was a really mean and selfish person. But seeing them struggle with life and grow through that struggle makes them relatable. Seeing people overcome struggles, and doing so while being funny and pretty is definitely worth watching.