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TV review: Run from CBS' 'Stalker'

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'Stalker,' 9 p.m. Wednesdays on CBS beginning tonight (Oct. 1)

One star (out of four)

If you're not already enough on edge, considering the scary things happening around the world and in our own back yard, here is "Stalker" to make sure you keep looking over your shoulder.

"More than 6 million people are stalked each year in the United States,” the CBS drama warns us in the opening. With so many shadowy psychopaths out there, lurking on social media or under your floor boards, horrible things can befall you every time you leave your house, or even if you don't.

You could wind up, in fact, like the woman we meet early on in the premiere. Well, we don't so much meet her as watch as she is doused with gasoline, locked in her car and set on fire by a masked man. We watch her burned alive, fighting to escape, screaming in terror and pain.

Are you in?

All of us have our own set points on TV and movie violence, the points at which we say, "too much!" The nightmarish events served up with such relish in "American Horror Story," the smile-and-wink cannibalism of "Hannibal" or the gore of "The Walking Dead" may bother you, or not.

I'm generally OK with violence, even graphic, if supported by good writing and for storyline purposes, as in "Breaking Bad." On the other hand, I quit "Criminal Minds" early on because I wasn't interested in spending an hour a week immersed in violent crimes primarily against women and children.

It's a popular show, though, and I bring it up because "Stalker," debuting at 9 tonight (Wednesday, Oct. 1) on CBS, is its new companion on the schedule.

"Stalker" comes from Kevin Williamson, whose eclectic writing career veers from the "Scream" movies and Fox's wildly violent "The Following" to "Dawson's Creek" and "The Vampire Diaries."

Williamson sets "Stalker" in the Threat Assessment Unit of the Los Angeles Police Department. Maggie Q ("Nikita") is Beth, the boss; Dylan McDermott (late of "Hostages") is Jack, who works for (and ogles) her. She is stern and he is casually sexist as they solve stalking cases.

Beth seems tough, but she was a stalking victim herself, and it still haunts her. Jack, on the other hand, may actually be a stalker; his target is his ex-wife. (Hey, he just wants to see his kids.)

I've tried to calculate how much you would have to care about them to lead you to watch "Stalker" (voluntarily, not while bound and gagged) every week. I couldn't get past that frantic woman, screaming in her burning car.

Save yourself. Run from "Stalker." 

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Gail Pennington is the television critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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