Season 6 of HBO’s gory, blood-sucking drama True Blood  may be nearly a year away, but departing  showrunner Alan Ball recently revealed that next season will cut out two episodes, leaving the total number at 10, instead of the typical 12. Could a shortened season 6 hurt the series, which is already abundant with characters and storylines?

Ball claims that next season will be reduced to 10 episodes partially because of star Anna Paquin (Sookie Stackhouse), who is due to give birth to twins with onscreen love-interest and real life husband Stephen Moyer (Bill Compton) this November. Additionally, Ball also noted that the episode order was cut for “economic” reasons (read: to save money).

Here’s what Ball had to say to TV Guide:

We’re moving production to January to accommodate her. And there will only be 10 shows next season partly because of Anna and partly because of the economics.

The burning question that’s likely on many fan’s minds is what does that mean for their treasured misadventures in Bon Temps next year? While nothing is yet set in stone, this cost-cutting episode reduction could mean that less important subplots could be reduced significantly, if not completely phased out.  Finding time for Alcide and his pack, or Andy and his fae babies, might become difficult come next year.

Ultimately, True Blood is a vampire-centric show, so the main focus of next season will likely be on the the rise of the new Bill/Lilith fusion (affectionately dubbed ‘Bilith’), as well as the exploration of the mysterious Warlow (who apparently “owns” Sookie). Though we’ll have to wait and see exactly how producers decide to approach next season, having to fit so many character stories in a shortened episode order could prove to be problematic for the series overall. Because if there’s one thing True Blood is already lacking, it’s time to include so many of its concurrent, over-arching narratives.

Behold ‘Bilith’

Then again, True Blood’s seasons have always feel a bit bloated, often leaving the season finales with a quick wrap-up and cliffhanger. If producers are able to provide a more succinct story, in fewer episodes, there’s a good chance that True Blood season 6 could help perfect the series’ ability to continue on into the future. Having already written off (or killed) more than a few familiar characters, producers have already begun trimming down the series – perhaps in a preemptive move to help the transition into next season easier.

All in all, True Blood season 6 will certainly be something for fans to keep an eye on. Whether this shortened season will be helpful or hurtful still remains to be seen. Either way, it’ll certainly add another level of intrigue to next season’s viewing (as if a god-like vampire and a mysterious vampire hybrid wasn’t enough).

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True Blood season 6 premieres summer 2013 on HBO.

Source: TV Guide.