I guess I'd rank Traders as one of my all time favourites. The fact that I like economics and finance probably contributes to this feeling. It is probably the only drama I've watched religiously from beginning to the end. Season III was my favourite. I was glad, however, when Global cancelled it at the end of season V as it had really lost its way.
I liked the characters especially when the show began. Sally and Adam were perfect for each other. She the academic and he the smart businessman. They couldn't stand each other most of the time, but they needed each other. Sally kept Adam reasonably honest and Adam shared his business acumen and contacts. Many of the best scenes revolved around their inherit conflict. I thought the show worked best when it explored their mutually beneficial relationhip.
Then there was Jack. He certainly kept the drama going. While Adam and Sally were the rocks that kept the show anchored, Jack went out and stirred things up. If it was the end of the season, you could pretty much bet that Jack would be broke or in some kind of trouble. Then we'd watch as he'd claw his way back and be, once again, another thorn in Adam's side.
While Jack sided with Sally; Adam had Ann. She certainly started off as a Adam wannabe but changed as the seasons continued. It was nice to watch and Ann became much more likeable as season III drew to an end. Until, of course, that fateful taxi ride as Jack watched in "Boom".
Then there was Darby. I really liked Darby. He was so cool in an unusual kind of way. He, Jack, and Grant (another interesting character) probably had some of my favourite scenes.
Of course, the other part of Traders was the trading floor. Good 'ol Marty. He was so entertaining to watch. Maybe even over the top occassionally, but he certainly was a great character. Chris was great too. I was glad he came back at the beginning of the third season. There was just an overall great feeling between the characters that I thought were interesting even after you stripped away all the financial lingo and business talk.
There were other characters I liked as well. I missed Monica from season I and I always wished they had brought her back - it would have really helped season IV and V. Susannah was good too. I liked Faith as well, mostly because she used to get Marty going so easily. Their battles in season III were interesting to watch.
Ultimately though, the show lost too many key characters within a span of six episodes and the change in writers between the third and fourth seasons didn't help. The characters created to take the place of Ann, Jack, Benny, Cathy, and Darby just weren't as interesting and didn't have the same chemistry and story combinations.
Although Ian was introduced in season III, he seemed to take a darker turn in season IV only to be reverted to an almost Darby in season V. Sally also seemed to get darker as well. I liked Nico more as the show progressed while Paul tended to get on my nerves.
I really liked the episode called Spin from season IV. It really focused on a few stories instead of the myriad of stories that seemed to dominant the episodes in most of seasons VI and V. The resulting diluted stories just weren't as interesting as those from the first three seasons.
In the end, I thought the show balanced story, character, and change well. The characters were interesting. The stories were interesting with an occasional twist to pique your interest. It was also fun to keep track of each of the deals and try to figure out which deal would come back to create a near disaster at the end of the season. The story modelled on the BRE-X situation was a perfect example.
Great character plus great stories equals great drama - for what else could a viewer ask?