CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The first of the last eight episodes of "Breaking Bad" starts at 9 p.m. Sunday, and I can't wait.
I thought I'd be sadder, given that it's the beginning of the end, but all I am is pumped. Although I am sad it's ending -- and I'm going to be even sadder next season when I don't have new episodes to look forward to -- I can't wait to see how creator Vince Gilligan decides to end it all.
When it premiered in 2008, I didn't jump right on the "BB" train. I saw a very little bit of the pilot while at someone else's house, but that was all for the first season. Then, because it had gotten such acclaim -- and since those seven episodes happened to be available On Demand -- I decided to check them out the afternoon that season two premiered.
I was hooked.
I know of hardly anyone who has started watching the show who hasn't gotten hooked. I try not to be obnoxious and relentlessly push for people to watch it if they haven't seen it, but it's just that good.
It's got good acting, good writing, good production and good direction. All of these things have been recognized repeatedly by various awards groups and critics, and all the accolades are deserved.
But another reason I hold it up as such a great show is the camaraderie it has inspired. Even though I watch the episodes alone, I've connected with so many other people because of "Breaking Bad," and I think that's the mark of a good show.
Last month, I struck up an animated conversation about the new season with a random stranger over a Los Pollos Hermanos magnet at a store in Columbus. A year or two ago, I made a friend at a mutual friend's party because he was wearing a Heisenberg shirt.
Before last season started, a former co-worker and I had a conversation that lasted into the night about what we thought might happen. Just last week, my cousin and I shared a laugh when I was summoned to her office downtown (which sports a giant "Breaking Bad" poster in the window) using Jesse's favorite term of endearment. And I've been texting with a friend for about a month as she and her husband have begun watching it.
If a show can unite people, stir animated discussions, fuel inside jokes and bring new fans into the fold constantly, then it's doing something right. So whether it occupies a big space in my life, as it does now with the premiere looming, or it fades in the background, "Breaking Bad" will always have a special place in my TV-loving heart, and I'm excited to see how it will write its final chapter.
To get you pumped for the premiere, AMC has a marathon of season four from 3 p.m. Friday to 5:03 a.m. Saturday and another of the first half of season five (last summer's episodes) from 12:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday.