Whilst the graveyard of television is littered with the headstones of short-lived science fiction series there is one corner of the genre that is positively booming and that is the one that deals with the life hereafter.
With Virgin 1 running GHOST WHISPERER with the latest series on Living TV and repeats showing on E4 it is significant that this uninspired and, frankly, repetitive show has reached its fourth season and shows no signs of running out of support. Each week Jennifer Love Hewitt meets a ghost, sorts out its social problems and everyone cries a lot. Ok that's unfair because the latest season has mixed up the plotting a lot, but it's essentially that.
GHOST WHISPERER though is not alone. MEDIUM is essentially the same story with a police twist as Patricia Arquette helps to solve crimes by talking to the victims, or dreaming about them to be completely accurate. It's got a strong cast and a great depiction of home life, but episodes can blur together, but it too is on its fourth season.
SUPERNATURAL is less traditional in its view of the afterlife, but it has demons and angels and all kinds of things that ought to be dead, so whilst it might not be positive about whether we'll like it the show is in no doubt that death is not the end. REAPER also deals with souls escaping from hell, but if Hell exists then so must Heaven.
In the UK, BEING HUMAN about a vampire living with a werewolf and a ghost has become a surprisingly strong hit for the BBC and Christmas brought ghost tales CROOKED HOUSE and AFFINITY to UK screens.
Perhaps it's a sign of our troubled times. In a world where tube trains are bombed, planes hit skyscrapers and religious hatred divides the world it is perhaps a comfort to believe that there is a better place waiting for us at the end. Perhaps science hasn't wiped out the sense of wonder in our world and this is just a sign of us looking for the magical in our mundane lives. Or, of course, it could be that we just like the shivers of a good old ghost story.
Whatever the reasons, ghosts are big business on the small screen and it seems likely that folks will be saying 'I see dead people' for quite some time to come.