The last season was awful. You know a show has tanked when they bring in a lame comedian to "save" the show, and they can't afford proper hair for the big-haired principal.
Seasons One and Two are so fantastically imaginative, with brilliant colors, music, great character chemistry, and sound effects worthy of the stooges. The show could get meaningfully serious, for example, what happens when "friends" want you to do something wrong, or when your "joke" really humiliates someone deeply? Parker, Mikey, and Jerry would charge into danger to right the wrongs and assure all was right in Santo Domingo.
And you all know that the creators of this show went on to make Dexter, right? That just shows how wickedly creative these guys are.
Anyhow, Ms Musso, OMG, (sound of a whip crack) what an awesome character. With a flick of her thumb (sound of a winchester chambering a round and firing) a student was in detention. Her scream would break her window. One particular scream of hers broke a window in Germany.
When the show was navigating between serious issues the jokes came so fast that I had to often slo-mo my VCR (hahaha) to inspect background elements. The show would have homages to events (how John and Yoko met) and movies (I think a Kiss Me Kate scene with Annie), many of which went past the audience. The show was rich with allusions to contemporary TV shows, movies, and singers. Many of these will be lost on modern audiences.
The chemistry of the cast was well designed, the characters were well defined and interesting, often with unexpected surprise elements to their person, as Parker got to know them more.
The show excelled at escapism, especially when needed to set up the problem of the week. You have got to hand it to a show in which the protagonists have a secret hideout (Batman, Hogans Heroes, Get Smart) but in one episode the computer with a big red lense seizes control of the hideout, forcing Parker to enter the red computer core, floating in zero gravity, to power down the computer. (homage: 2001)
This show ruled.