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.
•••"Breaking Bad" isn't the only AMC premiere this week. There's also the two-hour season three premiere of "Hell on Wheels" at 9 p.m. Saturday (with a season two marathon starting at 11 a.m.) as well as the Sunday series premieres of "Low Winter Sun" at 10 p.m. and "Talking Bad" at 11 p.m."Low Winter Sun" is an adaptation of the British miniseries of the same name. Set in Detroit, its a dark crime thriller full of murder, deception, revenge and corruption that stars Mark Strong (who appeared in the miniseries) and Lennie James ("The Walking Dead's" Morgan) as two detectives who kill a corrupt cop. David Costabile ("Breaking Bad's" Gale) is one of the Internal Affairs officers investigating them."Talking Bad" brings the successful after-show talk show from the world of "The Walking Dead" to that of "Breaking Bad." "Talking Dead" host Chris Hardwick also hosts this 30-minute show, which will feature guests and discussions of each Sunday's episode. (First up are Vince Gilligan and "Modern Family" star Julie Bowen.)Another "Breaking Bad"-related premiere can be found at 10 p.m. Monday on Discovery Channel -- the "Mythbusters: Breaking Bad Special." In it, Aaron Paul and Vince Gilligan join the "Mythbusters" crew to explore some of the show's science, including season one's grisly bathtub scene and Walt's explosive first appearance as Heisenberg.
Series premieres: "Vanessa & Ashley: Inner Circle,"
10 p.m. Thursday, E! (Vanessa Hudgens' and Ashley Tisdale's friendship); "Eat, Drink, Love,"
9 p.m. Sunday, Bravo (single women in the L.A. culinary world); "Bad Ink,"
10 p.m. Sunday, A&E (tattoo fixes); "Paw Patrol,"
8:30 p.m. Monday, Nickelodeon (animated adventures of six heroic rescue pups and their tech-savvy boy); "Doomsday Castle,"
10 p.m. Tuesday, National Geographic (a family builds a medieval castle to prepare for the apocalypse); "Tickle,"
10 p.m. Tuesday, Discovery ("Moonshiners" spin-off); "Porter Ridge,"
10:30 p.m. Tuesday, Discovery (a tight-knit hill community of misfits); "Heroes of Cosplay,"
10:30 p.m. Tuesday, Syfy (superfans create elaborate costumes for conventions); "Let It Ride,"
9 p.m. Wednesday, National Geographic (custom motorcycle maker).Season premieres: "Panic 9-1-1,"
10 p.m. Thursday, A&E; "What Not to Wear,"
10 p.m. Friday, TLC (final season); "Drugs Inc.,"
9 p.m. Sunday, National Geographic; "The Real Housewives of Miami,"
9 p.m. Monday, Bravo; "Hotel Impossible,"
10 p.m. Monday, Travel Channel; "Amish Mafia,"
9 p.m. Tuesday, Discovery; "The Bad Girls Club,"
8 p.m. Tuesday, Oxygen; "Doomsday Preppers,"
9 p.m. Tuesday, National Geographic; "The Little Couple,"
10 p.m. Tuesday, TLC; "Duck Dynasty,"
10 p.m. Wednesday, A&E (one hour).Series finale: "Primeval: New World,"
5 p.m. Saturday, Syfy (marathon of final six episodes).Season finales: "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,"
8 p.m. Thursday, Nickelodeon; "The Winner Is...,"
9 p.m. today, NBC; "King & Maxwell,"
10 p.m. Monday, TNT; "Franklin & Bash,"
10 p.m. Wednesday, TNT.Specials: "Teen Choice 2013,"
8 p.m. Sunday, Fox; "CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock," 8 p.m. Monday, ABC (performances by Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban and many more; hosted by Little Big Town);
"Nick News -- Family Secrets: Kids Caught in Domestic Violence," 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nickelodeon.Of note: Reruns of "Hawaii Five-0"
start on TNT Thursday and air at 9 and 10 p.m. Thursdays; BET will air marathons of "Scandal"
8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Aug. 17; all-stars from past seasons dance with the Top 10 on "So You Think You Can Dance,"
8 p.m. Tuesday, Fox.
W.Va. alert: "Face Off"
season five, with Charleston's RJ Haddy and seven other veterans facing eight rookies, begins at 9 p.m. Tuesday on Syfy (90 minutes), preceded by the season preview special at 7 p.m.; Barnyard BBQ in Teays Valley is featured on "BBQ Crawl,"
8 p.m. Wednesday, Travel Channel.Reach Amy Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.