I was inspired by the New Year's marathon to rewatch the entire series, currently on the 5th season, episode 16. I have come to the conclusion that I really dislike Piper. She's obviously Mary lite but not nearly as appealing. The whole marriage to Mike was sooo stupid and obviously a Las Vegas (the city and concept) cliche. Speaking of cliches, the series was rampant with them. Mobsters popping up here and there, crazy pregnant woman, jealousy, mysterious shady characters, disappearing plotlines (what ever happened to Sam's dog, Reggie? he showed up when she was kidnapped but was nowhere to be seen when she was fired).
I did miss Ed at the beginning of season 5 but I've always liked Tom Selleck so I got over it. I missed Mary a bit, but her character was such a nonentity sometimes it wasn't that much of lose. Its just too bad they couldn't have thought of a better way of explaining her's and Ed's departures. Her character had gotten better and wasn't such a wet noodle. (Piper seems to have gone into the complete opposite direction as a pushy, annoying, overly perky ingenue)
It is annoying the way Danny's characterization fluctuated. One episode he's a big bad former Marine, another he's waffling over enforcing his authority in an interrogation. Delinda walks all over him most of the time whether she's pregnant or not. Sam is an outright beotch sometime with barely any redeeming qualities.
It is too bad that Nessa never came back and that since Ed was on the run, Gillian was too so we never saw them as doting grandparents.