Recently a lot more TV shows have been releasing seasons in a shorter format. 13, 10, and sometimes even 6 episode series are becoming the new normal, and I think this is great! A shorter season means that the TV show can focus in on the central stories, and not get caught up with a bunch of pointless plot lines. That is not to say that a 26 episode season can’t be good, I still love The Flash and Arrow, but they definitely are prone to wander.
This is not the writers fault because to fill 26 hours of content you need to create multiple storylines and points of interest, but the viewers will not/cannot care about all of them, so any episodes that feature those plots will be quickly dismissed as filler. The Walking Dead has definitely suffered by going to 16 episodes. Again still good, but there are always a few episodes that the show could do without.
I understand from a TV channel’s perspective the more episodes of a hit show they can get the better, so they don’t have to juggle as many cycling shows. Especially now with the viewer’s expectation of year round quality programming, but a lot of those extra episodes are making the show worse, not better, and may even be loosing the show ratings, and by extension the channel.
A major bonus with shorter series is that they are easier to keep up with. If you get behind a season or two with a normal length show it is understandable to give up because you have like 50 hours of TV to watch to catch up, but with shorter seasons that time is obviously greatly reduced, and then people are more likely to watch the show live (well at least DVR’ed) since they are all current with what is going on.
I am all for the current migration towards shorter seasons. I hope that it is a trend that continues. We could all do with a lot less filler in our lives.