BRING OUT YOUR DEAD: The current TV season is ringing down, and like any decent Shakespeare play, the stage is littered with bodies. The networks are trying to lighten the tone of this downbeat little drama by announcing new shows and renewals at the same time, but there’s no denying that it’s a dismal end to a dispiriting year, and that there are some people (well, just me, probably) who think that they’d do just as well to nuke their whole primetime schedules and start all over again with a kind of broadcast year zero.

ABC leads the list this year with an impressive body count, tallied up conveniently by the Los Angeles Times. There’s a lot of what you’d expect – Cavemen is gone, as is Carpoolers, Big Shots, October Road and Miss Guided. October Road, Cashmere Mafia, Women’s Murder Club and Men In Trees are also among the fallen, as is – cue shock chords – Oprah’s Big Give, which was dropped at the request of Oprah Winfrey herself. “We loved that show and absolutely would have loved to bring it back," ABC entertainment president Steve McPherson told the Hollywood Reporter. "But it was something (Oprah) didn't want to do.”

The network is taking Scrubs over from NBC, and says they have 17 new pilots in development for midseason launch, which promises to make September on ABC look pretty quiet, but it may turn out that other networks are going to make an equally soft start on the fall TV season.

ABC’s casualty list is as large as Fox and CBS combined, neither of which contain many surprises, either, except for Fox’ axing of Back To You, the newsroom comedy starring Kelsey Grammar and Patricia Heaton. Grammar, it turns out, had to find out about his show’s termination from Nikki Finke’s L.A. Weekly blog, and posed with an impromptu memorial erected by fans outside Fox’s offices, though Finke reported that CBS is rumoured to be interested in picking up the show.

Canterbury’s Law, New Amsterdam and The Return Of Jezebel James are gone at Fox, while CBS has done a higher profile housecleaning, killing off Jericho – at last – as well as Shark, Moonlight, Cane and Welcome To The Captain, the latter show bearing the not-so-unusual distinction of being a program I’ve never heard of until now.

NBC has cut Las Vegas and Journeyman from its schedule, and finally confirmed that they can’t rebuild Bionic Woman, and the CW has dropped Girlfriends and Aliens In America. Britney Spears’ well-publicized cameos on How I Met Your Mother is apparently a big reason for the show’s renewal, and among the shows reprieved for another year are titles like Boston Legal, Rules Of Engagement, The New Adventures Of Old Christine and According To Jim, which is proof of life after death, if nothing else.