Sept. 30--Gina Santiago had to be at work at 8 a.m. today, but that wasn't going to stop the physician's assistant from staying up to catch the much-anticipated final episode of the television drama "Breaking Bad."
"Sleep can wait when 'Breaking Bad' is on," the Stroudsburg woman said.
Santiago eagerly watched Sunday night as teacher-turned-meth-cook Walter White tried to evade police and get revenge on the enemies he's created over the last five seasons. She said she was happy to see the return of some characters from the show's run.
"They're wrapping up each storyline," she said.
While it won't match the "M*A*S*H" finale's record 121 million viewers, the conclusion of the AMC television series is expected go down as a huge television event. The show's fifth and final season has regularly attracted a respectable 6 million viewers, making it one of the most watched shows on cable.
Santiago says the final season has crystallized the show's status as one of the best on TV, and ensures that it will go out on a high note.
"People are upset that it's ending after five seasons, but it's five solid seasons. Where you have other shows that drag on and their time should have went a long time ago," she said.
When the show premiered in 2008, it wasn't the ratings smash that it has become. A die-hard "X-Files" fan, Santiago knew that "Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan had a hand in the classic '90s sci-fi series, but she needed a friend's urging to start watching the show.
"It was actually a recommendation from a friend in college. But I was hooked from the first episode."
She was able to connect with the show as many of its fans did -- through Netflix streaming. Critics have credited video-on-demand service for continually creating new fans of the show along the way.
"I watched the first two seasons on Netflix to catch up," she said. "It was one of those 'just consume it in a weekend' ones -- just watch a marathon," she said.
More recently she watched the show while texting with friends. But if she had to miss an episode, like during last week's Emmy Awards, she would go into a self-imposed social media blackout.
"I saw my phone going off with text messages, but I was like, 'No. It's OK. I can wait,'" she said. "I didn't know what it was about and I didn't want to check."
Santiago said she was sad to see the show go off the air, but like most serial TV fans, she has other shows she's looking forward to. AMC's other smash hit, "The Walking Dead," returns in October. And there are plans for a "Breaking Bad" spinoff featuring fictional attorney Saul Goodman.
"That will be exciting," she said. "That I will tune into."
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