I honestly think the biggest reason why SM first season was regarded so highly was probably because of how it ended. For a show that was packing on the fluff to come out of nowhere with a final battle like that was impressive.
I would actually disagree and say that Sailor Stars, for all it's faults, probably had the most tragic and dramatic Sailor senshi deaths. The way all 9 of the senshi die..in such epic fashion easily trumphs season ones. Even Rei dieing in Usagis arms was done with considerably more flair than in season one.
Originally Posted by O-chan
"If that's what it means to be wise, I guess that means I'll be fool all my life" - Naruto, after Jiraiya has told him to wise up and give up on his friend.