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But maybe other viewers will just love “The Following.” And maybe rival networks soon will be scrambling to further up the ante with savage dramas of their own.

Bring ‘em on! I don’t automatically condemn TV violence. Series including “Breaking Bad,” “The Walking Dead” and the stomach-churning “Dexter” regularly bust taboos. But they put violence in the service of a larger storytelling mission, not just gory sensation. That’s how it should be. A series ought to earn the creative license to go extreme. It ought to justify its excesses with even bigger meaning. “The Following” demonstrates no such responsibility.

To me, “The Following” looms as the wrong show at the wrong time, a red flag being waved at a sorrowful nation. But it isn’t just a matter of too much, too soon. I think any time would be too soon for this kind of show.