The EN World kitten
I think there's a lot of truth in this. There are instances of earlier editions of D&D that come through much more strongly in 3.0 than in 3.5.Something about the 3.0 books just feels more right than the 3.5 books — like they have more "TSR DNA" in them, that got squeezed out with the juices in the 3.5 revision.
The issue with that, however, is that a lot of those instances don't work as well with the d20 System engine that 3.0 operated on. For instance, find familiar was a spell in earlier editions of D&D, and it was a spell in 3.0 also...but that meant that it could be put on a scroll or in a wand quite easily via item creation feats, which could then be used by anyone with ranks in the Use Magic Device skill. Now, that's not as egregious as it sounds, since 3.0 had restricted skills, limiting UMD to rogues and bards. But even so, you still had rogues and bards with their own familiars now (along with anyone who level-dipped into those classes, or prestige classes that offered UMD, thanks to the new multiclassing system), along with subsequent developments that allowed for gaining access to restricted skills.
In 3.5, by contrast, getting a familiar was a class feature, rather than a spell, making it virtually impossible for characters that weren't sorcerers or wizards to get familiars as freebies.