If you checked out last week's Two Scoops, you'll remember that I pointed out that there were two very notable and somewhat surprising appearances on the Red Carpet at All My Children's premiere event last month: Matthew Cowles (Billy Clyde Tuggle) and Michael Nader (Dimitri Marick). Were they there to lend support to the show's return -- or was there something more afoot? Well, last week, AMC confirmed that Matthew Cowles would be bringing Billy Clyde Tuggle back to the AMC canvas -- so does that mean that Dimitri is headed back, too? [UPDATE: Prospect Park has now confirmed Nader's return.]
Let's tackle Billy Clyde Tuggle first. The character, who was presumed dead 23 years ago, has somehow cheated death. I suppose it shouldn't be that big of a surprise. Tad, who was also thought to have died in the very same scuffle with Billy Clyde, also proved to be very much alive. Tad lost his memory and wandered around Napa Valley (presumably there is a river that connects California's wine country and the Pennsylvania Ocean), claiming to be Ted Orsini. Billy Clyde, on the other hand, is still involved in the world's oldest profession after all these years.
I am not meaning to prejudge a guy who runs a prostitution ring. I'm told that it's hard out there for a pimp. We have already seen the Russian mob's take on prostitution, which involves sex trafficking, drugs, and abuse. It would be an interesting contrast if somehow the 2013 version of Billy Clyde Tuggle was not the bad guy. What if he were the one to break things up and save Cassandra? Would that in any way atone for his past horrendous crimes?
While I am still on the topic of the sex trafficking storyline, I need to give an all-around round of applause to everyone involved in the story. Sal Stowers has graduated to America's Next Top Actress. I thought that everything she brought to her scenes was on-point, though I know I am not the only one that wanted to pull her aside and give her a stern lecture about taking pills from a stranger. Where was Nancy Reagan to pop up with a "Just Say No!" chant?
For just a moment -- and feel free to correct me if I am wrong -- it looked like Vlad might have some sort of conscience. During his discussion with Uri, I sensed an initial reluctance on Vlad's part to start getting Cassandra hooked on drugs. He certainly didn't grapple with his hesitance for very long before going back into full-on jerk mode. Maybe I was looking for something that wasn't there, but that's what I think I saw.
Getting back to Michael Nader's Dimitri. Maybe he will also be involved in the Russian mob story. The Maricks are from Hungary, but perhaps they have had dealings with or knowledge of these human traffickers.
In my discussion with friends and colleagues about the return of All My Children, I've discovered that... I am a hypocrite. I know you are probably screaming at your monitors, "Oh, Dan! Say it isn't so!" But alas, AMC fans, it's true. The good news is that there seems to be only thing on which I am "hypocriting."
For years, I have lamented that stretched budgets have made it impossible for the shows to do a slow build when it comes to introducing new characters. In the past, when there was money to burn, a new character could be around for weeks and months before we knew what they were up to -- and before they commanded huge percentages of airtime. In the past decade or so, new characters were immediately thrown into every story possible -- and it was just too "in your face."
I've said that I wanted to see characters get to know each other before they decide that they are the love of each other's lives. I think that's the reason I dislike shows like The Bachelor. They really expect a couple to meet and then just 30 days later -- after fighting off a dozen other candidates -- be ready to put a ring on it? But that's a rant for another column.
So here's where I contradict myself. I am not a fan of Celia and Pete. I don't care for their mutually believed-to-have-been-wronged angst. I find them interesting as separate entities, but as Petcel, Cepia, Petelia or whatever the kids have smooshed their names into, I'm just not there. I want to be, but it's just not happening at this point.
Last week's drinking game was "that night five years ago," and this week we are taking a drink every time someone says "guardian." On a certain level, the whole guardian storyline sounds so absolutely pretentious. At times, it can come across as backwards bragging about the fact that Celia never has to worry about money. Bu then there's the "this is really creepy" side. Why hasn't Celia met her guardian? Does Evelyn know who the guardian is? Is Evelyn somehow related to Celia? What does the guardian have against the Miranda Center?
Celia became exponentially more interesting to me when she saw that creepy old man in her mirror. There has been absolutely no indication about who that man might be. I have to admit that Celia's backstory -- that her parents were both killed in a car accident -- sounds very similar to what happened to Kathy Mershon (later revealed as Kate Martin). So let's try to figure this out together. Kathy ended up being Kate... whose parents were Tad and Dixie. Thankfully, last week we learned that Tad is on assignment and not dead. When we've seen Dixie, we've seen no sign of Kathy. So where is she? Could Kathy be Celia? If so, why would Tad and Dixie have dropped out of her life? Was the man in the mirror the person who killed Celia's parents? Is he the guardian?
Maybe Celia's story just happens to mirror Kate's. All My Children's creative people have said that all of the "new" characters will have ties to characters from AMC's past. I've seen some speculation -- a lot of it, actually -- that Celia bears a striking resemblance to Gillian Andrassy (Dimitri's cousin). Could Celia be a Marick? Or what if Celia were a Cambias? If she were to somehow be related to Michael Cambias, that might make sense about why the Miranda Center would be off-limits. There's still a piece of the puzzle missing, and I haven't been able to put my finger on it.
While I am talking about Miranda, I was stunned that somehow Miranda has been shielded from the issue of how she was conceived. This is a very sensitive topic of discussion, so I will try to do so respectfully. Miranda revealed last week that her father was a sperm donor. I certainly don't expect that Miranda would want to tell anyone that her "father" raped her mother. But it made me wonder if Miranda was told the truth about Michael Cambias.
In an age where everyone and everything is connected, I found it surprising that one of Miranda's schoolmates hasn't given her a hard time about it -- especially since they seem to be picking on her for having an openly gay mother. Even if all of Miranda's contemporaries have believed since they were little that Miranda's dad was a sperm donor, I'd think that at least one jackass of a parent would think it was "funny" to spill the beans. I suspect that this is a future storyline -- someone will tell Miranda the truth, and it will completely fragment the relationship that she has with Bianca.
There have been numerous statements that the Internet-based All My Children would be far edgier than what we saw on television. So far in this column, I've discussed drugs, human trafficking, homosexuality, and rape -- and now I'm going to discuss another controversial topic: abortion.
To me, there was never any doubt in my mind that Cara did not suffer a miscarriage. It was always a matter of whether or not she'd had an abortion or secretly gave the baby up for adoption. I was first inclined to think that Cara terminated her pregnancy because she'd said she didn't want anyone to know what happened in "that clinic." Then Cara made a phone call talking about how it broke her heart to have to stay away from someone. That made me think that someone was watching the baby she'd delivered -- like maybe Cara and Griffin's mother. I suppose it could go either way, but right now I am leaning towards Cara and David's baby being alive and well.
There's also something else that I don't quite understand. No one seems to be upset with JR over the shooting at Chandler Mansion. David, however, went to jail and has been shunned by everyone in town, except for Angie. We know that David shot JR after the struggle for the gun... but did David get blamed (or accept the blame) for everything that happened on that night five years ago? I guess we'll find out more now that JR has emerged from his coma. Once JR has fully recovered, will he be sent to jail for attempted murder?
It just seems to me that David has gotten the short end of the stick, unless there is something that happened that viewers haven't been told just yet. Either way, like Angie said, a lot of Pine Valley residents have done things that they probably aren't proud of. Instead of passing judgment on each other, maybe they need to start with the man in the mirror. I'm just not sure if I'd use the mirror at Bramwell Hall.