Tales is the ultimate generic series. Unremarkable, generic characters with average music and an okay but sometimes frustrating battle system (same can be said about Star Ocean) tied to inconsequential plots and terrible dialogue. It's only notable cause there's barely any other JRPGs coming to consoles anymore.
Honestly, I somewhat see where you're coming from, and I can even give you some of these, but honestly, Tales only became this fairly recently. I'd say that the characters didn't start becoming silly animu archetypes until Graces, and the drop in music quality happened around the same time (although I already said a bit about that in the Random VGM thread). I have to disagree with any knocks toward the battle mechanics though, to be honest. Graces had one of the most fun combat systems I have ever experienced. One you get a feel for the ins and outs, it only gets better, too. Tales has always been good with expanding their combat mechanics in any one game as it goes on, too.
The series has *always* used archetypes (Aeolus already summed that up). Hell, all of anime and gaming rests comfortably in a lot of this; it's boring and I've complained about that too (Young HIRO is a highschool-aged kid with a STRONG SENSE OF JUSTICE). I can't really defend the plot (besides Abyss and, I guess thematically, what Vesperia does), because they really ARE mixed bags. Sometimes a means to an end, something to enjoy than really invest or leave you talking. The characters, however, are usually bright and interesting to whatever some extent. Archetypes aside, they usually play their roles well and by the end you like a few of them. But shit, if the battle system ain't fun and provides a bit of action than I don't know what does (and it works for me, specifically, because I get pretty bored with turn-based unless its got some amusing gimmick to keep me interested).
What the Tales series does wrong, it does wrong (typically by creating a story that's been "done" and is often predictable for it, cookie-cutter characters). What it does right, it does right. Tales offers sidequests, a good battle system, various difficulties, fancy settings, and fun characters (skits play a good part in making conversations less story-based and contrived...surprisingly time for characters to just dick around or chat is ...entertaining).I find Tales is just a good *fun* series.
It's true it's not the BEST at everything it sets out to do, but it's fun and it delivers. To bash it to the ground like Lard has feels unwarranted (specifically since he's content on crapping on it without stating specifics --- and y'know, there's more to debate/agree/disagree with when you go so far for at least that). Pardon the objections coming your way otherwise Lard, but you're not really giving us a lot to work with either.
I also hope you don't think I'm bias. I've done plenty of bitching in this thread too. :P
And again, with how many series' have bit the dust (Breath of Fire, Seikens, Wild Arms, Star Ocean[?], SaGa, Grandia, Chrono, Suiko, Earthbound to name a few) Tales has been consistently there and for the most part *at least* "good" or better (or bad, depending on whatever taste for each title).