ChinesePod has a unique design - instead of progressing from lesson to lesson, each lesson within a specific level is of roughly equal difficulty. ChinesePod was created to address an enormous shortcoming in existing curriculum: Its inability to stay in touch with current spoken language in Mainland China. ChinesePod’s brilliant main architect John Pasden has written a post about it here.
Without being confined to a first-this-lesson-then-that-lesson progression, ChinesePod was free to continually add new lessons that ensure perpetual up-to-dateness. Since the lessons aren’t connected, you can easily just keep creating new ones, without hitting revision problems that can stall conventional curriculum for a decade - or more. The old lessons become a bit of a historical snap-shot of language 10 years ago, while the new ones keep everyone speaking like a native. Paying subscribers keep the system going. It was a stroke of pure genius.
Unfortunately, since production hasn’t occurred in the Mainland since the end of 2014, that purpose has pretty well been frozen. China moves fast, and there are a whole range of excellent Newbie lessons that should happen (such as WeChat vs. AliPay, bike sharing, DiDi - things Newbies in China MUST know these days), but I’ll bet those are now unlikely to ever be made.
Another benefit of this model is that the people doing it get better and better over time - which is why I always recommend the lessons produced between 2008-2014. 2005 through 2007, ChinesePod was just beginning to find its way. By 2008, it had an amazing crew, perhaps most notably XuZhou (David), who was a genius with sound. The voice actors were also first-rate. The dialogues from that era are a delight to the ears.
In 2015, ChinesePod lost the people who had done such an amazing job on the dialogues. It did gain some different talent, but I felt it never recovered from the steep drop in dialogue quality. Like you, I put little emphasis on the Full Lesson. It’s the actual language in the dialogues that matters. For that reason, I especially recommend focusing on lessons between 2008 and 2014.