The first season was just passable, focusing on the gimmick with formulaic episodes. (The kids are displeased, someone is replaced, things are better, then they learn why the original was better and fix it.) However, by season 2, the gimmick was used in creative ways and the plots focused more on the characters themselves.
The Two Shorts format was also mostly abandoned - allowing the opportunity to tell more developed stories.
Heartwarming Moments: In "Truth or Daring", Riley, while under the effects of the "truth salt", is forced to admit that she has no idea how to set things right, but she still swears to set them right anyway and says she cares about her dad and thinks he's a good dad despite being a bad politician. Seeing as she was able to say that, that means she really does care about Dick.
The band began growing stubble with Hootenanny, which contained a few songs that were more introspective and very un-punk, like "Within Your Reach" and "Willpower".
Harsher in Hindsight: "Here Comes a Regular" can get even more depressing when you remember Bob Stinson's alcoholism led to his early death.
"Johnny's Gonna Die" was a jokey song about New York Dolls guitarist Johnny Thunders having sloppy performances due to drug use and dying early. Thunders ended up passing away ten years later, possibly due to drug abuse.
"Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Pretty innovative and influential in their day, the 'Mats now receive less attention than some of their contemporaries. It can now be hard to understand what made them so different.
Tear Jerker: "Sixteen Blue", "Here Comes a Regular", "Androgynous", "The Ledge"...
Tough Act to Follow: While the albums following it were well-received, Let It Be is often held up at the band's high point.
The Woobie: Bob was by far the biggest one in the band, from his Dark and Troubled Past, mental health issues and addiction problems that lasted until his death.