Billy Clyde Tuggle is back, and he's pimpier than ever! I know that he is one of All My Children's greatest villains, but I have to admit that I find him to be absolutely hilarious. He's sort of a bumbling, cartoon villain -- and it works. If his whole pimp thing falls apart, I can easily see him down at the Center City Automall, hocking used cars. Whereas last week I mentioned that the Koslov brothers would not have worked if they were anything less than the most vicious monsters we've seen a soap, there's something about Billy Clyde Tuggle that balances out all of the seething darkness of the sex trafficking storyline.
There were a few moments that, um, tuggled on my funny bone. The first was Billy Clyde's (re)introduction at the rally outside the strip club. There was a woman fervently protesting the club with a sign in her hand that read, "Save your soul from the pole." I mused on Twitter that it was nice to see that the old Fusion offices had been turned into a strip club -- after all, they did have a stripper pole installed. The lovely Terri Ivens (ex-Simone Torres) immediately popped onto my timeline with shrieks of, "No!! Not my company!" Thankfully I was able to reach out to Terri before she did anything drastic!
Then there was the scene where Pimpy Clyde spouted off Biblical passages to -- um, defend? -- his presiding over a stable of prostitutes. Angie flashed him an expression that quickly silenced him. Remember a few weeks back when Angie caught David skulking about outside of JR's hospital room and shot him that glare of hers? She didn't need to say a word for David to know that he was in hot water. It was pretty much the same deal -- just a different face.
It amused me that Billy Clyde thought that he could bargain with Jesse -- and it was so apparent that Billy Clyde was bluffing his way through everything. In the AMC of the past, Jesse would never have taken Ruby to a separate area for interrogation. The Pine Valley Police Department of yesteryear really was an updated version of the Keystone Kops.
What I am trying to figure out is whether or not Billy Clyde will be integral in Cassandra's rescue. Obviously, Tuggle's operation is on the Koslovs' radar -- so he can't be too small potatoes. I don't envision Billy Clyde Tuggle having long-term story, so there are only a few resolutions that I can wrap my head around... and most of them don't end up well for the Scarlet Pimp-ernel. As much as I enjoy having him around, I wonder if Billy Clyde will be killed in some sort of attempt to rescue Cassandra.
I've upped my confidence level as to whether or not Cassandra will be rescued safely, but it's still not at 100%. I was cheering loudly when Cassandra announced that she was going to cut the next fool who laid his hands on her. Okay, that's not quite what she said, but that's the way I heard it in my head.
I've battled my feelings of anger towards Tia for squealing to Uri. I understand that she is just doing what she needs to do in order to survive, but it doesn't mean that it didn't irk me any less. I find it hard to watch Tia. She's made comments that are bone-chilling, including the "I used to be pretty..." from a week or so back. I'm a little fearful for her survival, too.
I think everyone knows by now that Pine Valley and its surrounding locales are based on real-life locations here in the Philadelphia area. The other day, I was driving through Rosemont, an area on the Main Line, and I started to chuckle. It took every ounce of control that I had to not look around for the train stop that Jesse was investigating so that I could share a picture with all of you.
It wasn't just Billy Clyde Tuggle's gang and their signs that made me laugh. There was another gem -- a spoken one -- that had me in stitches. A dejected Miranda called herself "Moron-da Montgomery Lesbo Princess." I don't know which member of the writing staff came up with that one, but I want to take him or her to lunch. It was even more priceless than the "vag-etarian" crack from the first episode.
I completely, totally, and wholeheartedly agreed with Miranda's post-kiss quarterbacking. AJ and Miranda may be the only constants in each other's lives. I think I shared my thoughts on this a few weeks ago in a Two Scoops column, but I still feel the same way. If AJ and Miranda were to become an item and they broke up... their worlds would be rocked. Yeah, yeah, yeah... I know that you aren't supposed to enter into a relationship thinking that it might end. But this is a soap, and even more so than the real world, we know that these relationships more often than not do not have a storybook ending.
So it's looking like I should've kept my mouth shut about AJ successfully navigating through the Chandler family addiction minefield. A matter of days after I praised him for not taking a drink, he now appears to be teetering on the edge of taking performance-enhancing drugs. Daytime television has been discussing the dangers of drugs long before there were "this is your brain on..." commercials. To my knowledge, though, this is the first time that a soap has tackled what many people believe to be a problem that only affects Major League Baseball players, Olympic sprinters, and professional cyclists.
Whereas Miranda is a constant in AJ's life, I think he also feels the same way about baseball. He's feeling pressure to be the best, and he's probably not used to having competition. Will he use the drugs and get busted? Will he use the drugs and still lose the starting spot? Will he just say no and blow everyone away? Will he say no, lose the battle, but realize that losing fair and square is a good thing? I don't know if we are treading into Afterschool Special territory, but I am anxious to see what happens.
I really, really like both Denyse Tontz (Miranda) and Eric Nelsen (AJ). I think they are incredibly strong and gifted performers. There have been some nitpicky complaints -- whether or not there are too many teen stories, the language is too coarse, the actors aren't playing age-appropriate characters -- but none of those arguments hold any water for me. I am well out of the target demographic -- though I recently filled out a product registration card that still lumped me in with 20somethings. Woo hoo!
Anyway, I don't view any of these stories as "teen" stories any more than a story of romance between two people of the same gender is a "gay" story. There are elements in all of these stories that anyone can relate to, and I think that in the case of the stories involving the younger characters, the writers have done well to make sure that some of the adult characters are also roped into the plot.
The only thing I don't understand about the "teen storyline" is the bizarre need to have the weird guitar riff before every one of their scenes. I feel like it's some sort of revisiting of Saved By The Bell. I think that most viewers will know that they're going to see the teen storyline when... wait for it... teens appear on the screen!
There was another head-scratcher this past week: AJ revealed that he takes the bus to school. I'm assuming that he fought to do that to appear "normal" like the rest of the kids, because I'd imagine that a Chandler would be chauffeured to school. Then again, I'd figure that a Chandler kid would also go to private school...
AJ's dad seems to be faring just about as well. He surely did make one of the fastest post-coma recoveries on record, but I think JR expected everything else to heal just as quickly. Bianca had other ideas. I liked the confrontation scene a lot. I think Bianca had to put a lot of her emotions on hold for the past five years because JR's health was in limbo. I still can't quite comprehend why Bianca seems to be the only person who doesn't blame David for Marissa's death.
I have to imagine that I am not the only one that sees something brewing between JR and Cara. After all, every good romance starts off with a little secret-keeping. I know that I can easily get the answer to this question in the Daily Recaps Archive or Who's Who in Pine Valley sections, but did Cara and JR ever have any meaningful action when AMC was on the you-know-what channel? If they did, I've blocked it out of my mind.
With the canvas being so small, it doesn't take a great deal of effort to try to figure out who might be paired together. It's like those games in Highlights where you, um, kids have to match the front of the animal with the back-end of the animal. I'm hoping that Cara doesn't come out the ass in any relationship with JR. Is he using her? I don't know, but the stage was certainly set for JR to be jerkier than ever after that "He might not be the JR you remember" diagnosis.
JR is now free to pretend to be a good guy while still quietly scheming. Of course, the diagnosis also gives the writers an easy way to redeem JR, who, let's be honest, was downright despicable towards the end of AMC's run on network television. Either way, there is a palpable chemistry between these two -- and David is going to go through the roof if JR gets with his former love.
When JR finishes his physical therapy, I think he needs to give that pimp cane back to Billy Clyde.
While we're on the topic of one Castillo, what the heck happened to Griffin? So far Griff has only played bodyguard for his sister. Is he going to have any sort of story?
Evelyn is upset that Celia is hanging out with Pete. Opal, meanwhile, has blamed everything that's happened on the scheming, conniving hussy, Celia. If I didn't know better, Opal seemed to be summoning her inner Erica Kane. It must be from all of those years of being bestest gal pals. Our dearest chaste Celia went on a shopping spree and then didn't seem to have any issues sleeping in bed with a strange man. Zzzz.
Ooh, sorry. I'm awake. I don't wanna drift too far into a state of slumber because that creepy girl and her doll might pop up in my dreams. "He's always right behind you." If it had been said a little more sing-songy, it would have reminded me of "I'll never tell" from the 2001 movie Don't Say A Word.
Every soap right now seems to have a mystery man of some sort. I still haven't been able to figure out who this guy is in Celia's visions. Is he the man who killed her parents? Did this man harm Celia in some way? Is he the guardian? Or... maybe Celia is responsible for this guy's death -- or maybe even her parents'.
I suppose I should apologize for calling him a "creepy old man" in a past column. Now with a second, longer glance, he doesn't appear to be old. He's still creepy. Or maybe menacing is a better word. Then again, I find Celia to be somewhat menacing. It's always the quiet, unassuming types that end up being soap opera baddies. If I were Pete, I'd keep my eye on her.
That's it for me for this week. I, unlike AMC's original head writing team, will be back here again next week with more of my thoughts on All My Children. I hope you've enjoyed this week's column -- and you're always welcome to drop me a line (or post below in the Comments section) whether you agree or disagree. I love reading from you and do my best to reply to every message I receive, but sometimes I'm not able to get to every message. I don't want anyone to be upset. The last thing I need is a group of protestors outside my office holding signs that read, "Save your soul from the Kroll."