The first disc of Season 2 is where I stopped my first attempt at this rewatch, so here's one more shmushy post before I start doing individual episodes.
Season 2 gets off to a rocky start. Is The Anointed One really going to be the season's Big Bad? Is there really an episode about making a Frankenstein girlfriend for a zombie jock? (Seriously, is there? I watched this a year ago and looking at the synopsis for "Some Assembly Required" now I still can't believe it happened.) It's a mess.
And then "School Hard" happens. You can call Spike and Drusilla (fun fact: OSX's spell-checker knows Drusilla) cheesy, you can complain about their ridiculous accents, you can get into where Spike would go later, but let's not, because they are such an amazing jolt of energy in this episode. They're delightfully crazy, insanely fun to watch. The Master had that whole grandiose, sort of Bond villain thing going on, and that's all well and good, but Spike and Dru put a pin in that instantly and it's just fun. They also help turn Angel into a real character by giving him something to do besides mope and moon, and making his past much more relevant ("People still buy that Anne Rice crap? …You were my sire! My Yoda!"), which of course will become a bigger deal later.
This episode, the 15th of the series, feels to me like the first truly great one, the first one where the show really figures out what it is. In a time when shows rarely get more than a few episodes to find their legs, this feels pretty remarkable (though I guess The CW, like The WB before it, is still small enough that anything anyone is watching can limp along for a while). It's also impressive that the show became such a hit. People really stuck with it, or found it later, in a time before DVRs and Netflix. Though, again, my negativity is mostly hindsight. The early episodes look worse when you know what's coming.
Of course, next up is "Inca Mummy Girl," which makes "Teacher's Pet" look like a masterpiece. It's a shock to see an episode this bad right after one so good, and disappointing to not get to see more of Spike and Dru. We do get our first brief glimpse of Oz though. Still, it's no wonder my rewatch stalled after this.