Loved the 00 episode with the amateur film. My favorite bits were the slipping cat and the increasingly disillusioned narration by Kyon.
The first episode disgusted me and I’m glad I saw it much later than the other episodes. I was especially disturbed by the blackmailing of the computer class. Haruhi with her shenanigans has put Miss Ashahina in a dangerous position. Miss Ashahina is the obviously the weakest link in the chain and she could be the victim of one of the boys in the club striking back at her rather than at Haruhi. I’m also furious with Kyon – Miss Ashahina needed his help, in fact, she begged it. He promised her that he would help her. He failed not because he wasn’t aware that she needed his help or that he was afraid of Haruhi. He was just too turned on to bother. This was nearly unforgivable.
(Note: this situation is softened by the end of the series. It was still unpleasant and I’m glad I watched it out of order.)
Otherwise, I liked the introduction of Yuki Nagato. That explains why she reads so much – a little anyway.
The final episode has Haruhi signing them up to play baseball. Everyone is reluctant except for Itsuki Koizumi (I don’t trust him). It turns out to be a highly entertaining game with everyone playing in character (screaming when the ball approaches or swinging enthusiastically with no results). I liked this episode and I think the creators do their best work when subverted cliches without entirely abandoning the framework.
It’s a mixed bag but the series is excellent overall.