First, the rant. There's been a lot of talk about how the Emmys are a joke. To me, this argument can be won simply by uttering "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." I know this show had some stiff dramatic competition during its run (West Wing, Sopranos). But, the fact that "Buffy" garnered only technical nominations (and not even wins for those) during its seven year brilliance...proof the Emmys and its nominating posse suck. Putzes.
Now the rave, Joss is the man and I'm glad "The Avengers" is once again proving that. He turned a corny "Buffy" movie into an intelligent, darkly humorous masterpiece of a show.
He aced top-notch dialogue but, he knew how to really mold characters. Think about it, mid-way through its run, he shipped off two of the show's more popular faces - Angel and Cordelia - to "Angel", and lost the beloved Zen-like Oz - and he still was able to keep this show sailing and bringing in the praises.
I'll admit, I think overall, season 4 suffered a little compared to the prior epic seasons (and is anything ever going to compare to Becoming 1&2?). But, I think seasons 5-7 are right up there with the caliber of seasons 1-3. And I think the main reason - Spike. He became one of the deepest, most complex, richly developed characters on this show. Through gem James Marsters, Spike could be evil but vulnerable at the same time. His journey from soul-less vampire who couldn't handle his limitations with Buffy, to a vampire with a soul who stood by her even after he gave up hope of being with her - amazing. The whole season 7 relationship of Buffy and Spike was hauntingly beautiful and so well done. I think that's why season 7 actually gets top ranking from me.