It's a pretty good assumption that if you've watched one of Joss's shows, you've watched at least one more. And if you know anything about Joss, you know you will see a lot of the same names in behind the scenes positions. So when you compare his TV works side by side, which is the ultimate Joss show?
For me, the answer is Angel. And instead of just launching into why, I'm going to give my reasoning for why the other shows aren't.
Dollhouse: I always felt like Dollhouse took a lot longer to find its legs than any other Joss show. It actually got to the point a couple of times that I was starting to lose interest. Now, when the show was on point, it was awesome to watch. But it struggled to maintain that through most of the first season, and with it's cancellation after season 2, that struggle ultimately weakens the show overall.
Firefly: To be clear, since we're discussing the shows themselves, I am not going to include Serenity as part of the basis for my decision (no matter how awesome it was). Firefly seemed to have its legs and know exactly what it was from the start. The cast had this immediate rapport and it almost felt like you were watching people that had been working together for years. And it was a pretty original idea. I mean, space western? Who'd really done that? What hurts Firefly is the sudden cancellation and the inability to further develop the show. If the show had been given multiple seasons who knows the direction this post might have taken.
It's a lot harder to put into words exactly why I feel like Angel is the superior show in regards to Buffy.
An overarching theme to Buffy was the process of growing up and becoming the person you are meant to be and the villains fit into that theme as needed. You also had to deal with the college transition, an issue that many shows have struggled with (and personally, with the exception of a few episodes, I don't think Buffy can be excluded from that). With Angel, the overarching theme was redemption. Our main character was a 200+ year old vampire so he didn't exactly have to worry about growing up. The theme of redemption is also one that allows for a much darker examination of a character.
Maybe it ultimately boils down to a preference for the darker story, but I do think it's more than that. I think Angel was able to take these flawed characters and develop them in a way that Buffy never could. For example, through season 3 of Buffy, there wasn't a character I hated more than Wes. By the end of Angel, there wasn't a character I loved more. Overall, I felt like I had a deeper connection to the characters themselves. I would be mad at them when they did stupid things, but also understood the reasoning behind those choices so I would forgive the momentary stupidity. I was infinitely more invested in the characters, which in turn made me more invested in the show.
So I think at the end of the day it's a combination of things. There were many intangibles that made both Buffy and Angel what they were, but it's also what makes it hard to describe the particular reasoning for my opinion.
Now, I turn it over to you. Which show drew you in and clawed its way in deeper? Is it as difficult for you to put into words as it was for me? Who thinks I'm completely off my rocker for picking Angel?