This is just my musing on how shows need the right season length. I am not a professional in any part of the industry, so mostly it’s just me talking about my thoughts. This should not be used as anything other than entertainment value, or print it out and keep it in the bathroom for those times.
Most shows in the US have either a twenty-two to twenty-four episode season with some having half that. I know that in other countries, the season lengths are different. I do like having a high amount of episodes since that means I get to see more of the characters and plot I enjoy before the show goes on break. But at times, I think its important to consider each show separately for what kind of length it needs.
This might apply to books as well, but I’m not sure how much of a length enforcement publishers use. But all stories have an optimal length to tell its plot. Having something be too long can have a detrimental effect. I’ll just stick with television since they usually have budget commitments to season lengths. Note that the previous sentence may or may not be just how I think TV shows work.
Anyway, depending on the kind of episode and plot the TV show has, the length of the season would affect the quality. If the show is mostly episodic in nature, it might not be as important. But people get tired working on the show all the time, both production staff, writers and actors. Writers might come up with less good ideas without some time off doing other stuff, Things would start to get weird. But an episodic show could possibly take any length season that the staff is willing to handle.
For more plot based shows, there is only so much important story that is going to come up in any season. So what happens if the show has too many episodes? Random stuff coming up. What happens in the show has too few? The plot will feel rushed. That is why for more long-arc based shows, having the right amount of episodes per season is important. It keeps things from feeling like they are dragging or introducing random side-characters just to have time to fill.
I always find that if the main plot I want to watch gets sidetracked by other characters, it annoys me. Of course, that depends a lot on how well the other characters are written and how much they interest me. But it can be inferred that you watch the show for the main characters just because they would be the most prominent ones around. The side characters can be fun, and their plot doesn’t even need to have a huge impact on the main going ons, but I also feel it shouldn’t drag on too much or take up too much episode time.
Having a season length be too short would have the opposite effect of me not getting enough of the show. Condensing things means in order to get out all of the necessary plot, world-building and character-building would have to take a back seat.
In general, I would prefer longer seasons to shorter ones just because for shows I enjoy, I would want more. But a bit more flexbility with the amount of episodes per season could help shows feel more evenly paced, I feel.
Remember, the above is just the ramblings of someone that does not know the inner workings of TV show production and should not be taken as anything other than something fun to do when you have nothing else.