We're blasting through the third season of Alias on DVD right now as a refresher before the new season begins in January. It's a complicated story to follow, and seeing it a second time is helpful. We have all three seasons.
I give the writers for that show (as well as 24) a lot of credit, because they're charged with figuring out a huge story arc then fleshing it out into 22 to 24 episodes. That's not an easy task. I've read that J.J. Abrams, the series creator and producer, wasn't happy with the third season because it didn't concentrate enough on the people, but I still enjoyed it. I look forward to the next season.
This year, they aren't starting until January, which I think is a good plan. The holidays cause too much of a break in the action and you easily get lost when too much time passes between episodes. I think we went like five or six weeks without a new one in season three.
24 is doing the same thing with a late start. Not only that, but they're going to bang out a pair of two-hour episodes right away. If that doesn't get people hooked, I don't know what will.