TV STUFF: Sudden Death for ‘Ally McBeal’ Lawyer

We knew Gil Bellows was leaving “Ally McBeal.” We knew his character had a brain tumor (as diagnosed last week). And maybe we’d even read that he (the character) was going to exit the show by, you know, kicking the bucket. But did we know he was going to drop dead last night?

Not all of us, apparently.

The Internet is reeling today with debate over the death of “Ally McBeal” lawyer Billy Alan Thomas, who in Monday’s episode gave new meaning to the term “closing argument,” passing away in court, felled by a cerebral hemorrhage entirely unrelated to that brain-tumor thing.

In a post entitled “Good Lord He Died,” one fan on the newsgroup writes: “I CANNOT believe it! I was totally unprepared for it … Was there any spoiler that predicted this?”

The consensus among Netizens is, yes, there were spoilers all over the Net — fueled by media, and specifically tabloid, reports that nailed the Billy-dying-in-court scene (minus the cerebral hemorrhage detail). Some even complained chatty talk-show host Rosie O’Donnell spilled the beans on her morning show.

But the timing — killing Billy in March, as opposed to the usual last-episode-of-the-season-in-May routine — appears to have been the wildcard.

“Ever since it had been written in the media that Gil was leaving and then it was leaked that it was a brain tumor and that he would die, I felt a little ripped off — like, Damn, can’t we have any surprises!!!! I, for one am glad that he died suddenly and they didn’t do the expected,” another “Ally” cyberfan writes in a post today.

While Bellows’ character is out as a living, breathing member of the “Ally McBeal” ensemble, he’s expected to hang around for a while in ghost form.

And joining the show next month: A new living, breathing male character as played by indie film star James LeGros.

IN OTHER “ALLY MCBEAL” NEWS: Planning to fly to Singapore to catch a rerun of that episode, first aired here last November, in which “Ally” stars Calista Flockhart and Lucy Liu do a liplock? Forget it. Government officials there have banned the installment on the grounds that it “centers around alternative sexual explorations.” We’re betting they’re not big Madonna fans there, either.

DOCTOR IS OUT: Christopher Lloyd, not the “Taxi” star, but the guy who executive produces “Frasier,” isn’t going to be the guy who executive produces “Frasier” anymore. After seeing the hit NBC show through its first 168 episodes, Lloyd announced Monday he’ll depart at the end of this — the series’ seventh — season. No word on whether Lloyd finally intends to become the “Taxi” star.