And ‘General Hospital’s Big Bad Balkan Is…?

Daniel Benazli (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images )

Daniel Benazli (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images )

The Balkan’s Unsurprising Identity

All week ABC announced that Friday would be the day everybody had been waiting for: the identity of “General Hospital”s’ mysterious crimelord, the Balkan, would be revealed.  OMG!  The news everyone viewer has been awaiting breathlessly.  Well, except that there were not exactly a plethora of suspects.

There was Jerry (Sebastian Roche).  Since everybody thought he was the Balkan, and since it would have made Jerry a teen father given that his son Alexander seemed to be about thirty, that was unlikely.

There was Brenda’s partner in charitable endeavors, Suzanne (Adrienne Barbeau) whose character has not done anything but fret about Brenda’s safety and occasionally flirt with Jason (Steve Burton), but that would mean that GH creating a fiendishly clever female villain.

So, that left Theo (Daniel Benzali), who went from quirky hypochondriac to evil the moment he slapped the team at “General Hospital” with a lawsuit for failing to send him to the psych ward for his obviously crazy behavior.  (Dare I say he kind of had a point?  I would think most hospitals would have a psychiatrist evaluate irrational patients.)

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Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzo gave Soap Opera Digest a breathless quote:  “I was floored.  I wouldn’t have guessed it in a million years.”  I harbored a faint hope that GH would truly do something surprising, that it would be a character viewers had been watching for a while that actually meant something to the audience.  Audrey Weber is back — with a vengeance!  Sonny’s accountant, Benny, decided to secretly build an organization of his own!

Instead, it was clear from the moment Theo showed up at Alexis (Nancy Lee Grahn) and Diane’s (Carolyn Henesssy) law firm, announcing he was sent by the heretefore unmentioned New York office, to help them with the civil suit that had been filed against Brenda and Dante for the wrongful death of the henchman Brenda shot, that he was the Balkan.  Not only was it clear that a man who had been introduced as a nutbar was not a respected attorney, but the two bizarre nuisance lawsuits happening at the same time were obviously connected.  So when Jerry told Siobhan (Erin Chambers) that he was not the Balkan, and then got a phone call from Theo, it was less, “Oh, my God” and more, “Duh.”  I don’t know why GH feels the need to telegraph everything.  If this had happened a little earlier, and Theo had phoned Jerry while he still seemed like a mere eccentric curmudgeon, it would have been more surprising.

That said, after months of stalling, the Balkan storyline, such as it is, can actually be told.  The dynamics are, in theory, pretty interesting.  Theo is going to use his lawyer cover to learn all of Brenda’s dirty secrets.  This could give Alexis, who took an instant dislike to him, some interesting material.  Given her lousy taste in men, she’ll probably end up sleeping with him.  Lucky has just learned that Siobhan is working for the bad guys, but she seems to have genuine affection for him.  Theo’s bond with Robin could cause him to set his sights on Lisa, which will lead him to Johnny, who killed one of his men.  Then, there is Sonny and Brenda whose rekindled romance will screech to a halt once her brief fling with Dante comes to light.  It could be good.  It should be good.  But given how poorly the story had been told so far, it is difficult to be optimistic.

Eric Braeden and Neil Patrick Harris’s Twitter Feud Gets A Ridiculous Amount of Publicity

Eric Braeden should thank Neil Patrick Harris for picking last Friday, one of the slowest news days of the year to insult him on Twitter.  Harris probably had no idea that when he tweeted that the “Young & the Restless” star was a “d-bag” for canceling his appearance on “How I Met Your Mother” at the last minute, it would be read by anyone other than his followers.  Instead, with little other entertainment news breaking as Hollywood prepared to shut down for the holidays, Harris’s comment made the news at every major entertainment site, including this one.   Harris quickly tweeted a remorseful follow-up, stating that he did not know Braeden was just “fiercely protective” of his show.

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Braeden spent the weekend telling his side of the story:  he had a heavy workload on Y&R, is recovering from hip surgery, and thought the role would be more than two lines.  He also took a few potshots at Harris, calling him a  “whippersnapper” and, saying that though he was going to let “bygones be bygones,”  he could “get his teeth knocked in for that kind of nonsense.” Braeden spoke to Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, and even the New York Times arts blog.  He got even more publicity than he did for his contractual dispute last year.   Only soap fans followed that story.  This got Braeden on the map with the much larger group of Harris and HIMYM fans. Frankly, neither actor acquitted himself particularly well.  Harris probably should have kept his opinion about Braeden to himself, and Braeden probably should have laughed the whole thing off instead of turning the incident into an epic feud. I assume that despite his comment, that, “I suggest whoever this young fellow is that he enjoy his success and count his blessings and save his money,” Braeden is well aware of Harris’s professional stature, and just wanted to insult him, he did come across as slightly out of touch with his comment, “I don’t have a Twitter thing.”

While everyone will have forgotten the dispute by Christmas, it probably did more to remind the general public of Y&R’s existence than any of the stuntcasting the show has done over the past year.  A conspiracy theorist might find it interesting that this happened just as Victor, who had been off the Y&R canvas for several weeks, returned to the show.  Given the theory that any publicity is good publicity, Braeden probably just put himself on a list of casting directors’ radars.  If there’s a role for a pompous man his age, he’ll probably get an audition. Perhaps Y&R should persuade Harris to make a guest appearance as a young executive who is a thorn in Victor’s side and really milk this feud for all its worth.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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