By Michael Slezak
May 19, 2010 at 09:25 PM EDT

Image Credit: Vivian ZinkKudos to ABC for the smartest move of the yet-to-be-hatched 2010-2011 TV season. Nope, I’m not talking about picking up The New Adventures of Old Christine from CBS — hasn’t happened yet, and probably won’t, according to Ausiello — but rather for adding Vanessa Williams (multiple Emmy nominee for the network’s recently departed Ugly Betty) to the cast of Desperate Housewives. “ABC is infinitely smart to keep her in the fold,” my colleague Tanner Stransky (EW’s resident Housewives recapper) emailed me. “They’re awesome about keeping talent they like around.”

Smarter still, the addition of the delectable Ms. Williams breathes instant buzz into a show that, six seasons in, has settled into the role of comfortable Sunday night companion, but ranks pretty low on the water-cooler flow chart. Now, of course, the question arises: What kind of role do we want to see Williams play? And how do we make sure she avoids getting Alfre’d (the syndrome that befell Alfre Woodard, Dana Delany, and Drea de Matteo — high-profile Housewives additions whose roles started strong and eventually turned to little more than suburban lawn mulch)?

Here’s my suggestion: As much as I want Williams to bring the patented bitchery of Ugly Betty‘s Wilhemina Slater to Wisteria Lane — can you imagine the high comedy of seeing Willie take a golden parachute from the Meades and land smack in suburbia? — an actress of her caliber probably isn’t interested in getting typecast. So how about casting Williams as a big-shot financial planner who moves from Wall Street to join Carlos’ firm, then lures her neighbors into unwittingly investing in a Ponzi scheme that brings them all to the brink of financial ruin? Williams’ housewife could be frenemies with Gaby, forge an instant working-girl connection with Bree, and perhaps activate Lynette’s competitive side when she realizes she’s not necessarily the fiercest businesswoman on the block. Plus, the role wouldn’t waste Williams’ talents at rocking outrageous couture. And naturally, Williams’ character would carry on a torrid affair with Mike Delfino –’cause it’s time the most boring household in Fairview got rocked by something harder than unpaid plumbing bills.

What think you, Housewives fans? Does the addition of Williams make you more interested in ABC’s aging soap? And how exactly would you cast the newcomer? Sounds off in the comments below!