Will "Marilyn" be dunzo when Season 2 begins, with everybody working on new things and putting that disaster behind them? I don't know, but I have my fingers crossed.
Personally, I'd like a multitude of plot and character changes to go along with all the cast and production team changes they've already announced. Not gonna get my hopes up, however, since the early word on Season 2 indicates there's still way too much focus on "Perfect Princess Karen, the Perfectest Princess Who Ever Perfected Princessing," instead of, you know, either firing Katharine McPhee and hiring somebody more interesting or redoing the character to make her less like wallpaper paste. Instead, they've hired a bunch of new people to orbit Karen's dim sun, and the NBC promo for its new season shows Jennifer Hudson, who will be joining the show for a few episodes as a Broadway star of some renown, offering sage advice to Perfect Princess Karen, who is wearing Swiss Miss braids and gazing vapidly into space.
Not a good way to pique my interest.
We've heard recently that Sean Hayes, an ISU grad with all kinds of TV, film and Broadway success on his resume, will also be doing a multi-episode arc on "Smash." Word is that he'll be playing a comedian taking on Broadway in a musical version of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses." Would Hayes be the sinister and sexy Valmont in this new show-within-a-show? It doesn't seem like the world's best match of actor to role, but then, it depends on whether it's a spoof or a serious take on "Liaisons." We also don't know if he'll be yet another character in Karen's circle, but the fact that he is bringing in a new show-within-the-show suggests maybe not, if she's still being Marilyn. And the mention of "Liaisons: The Musical!" at least means there's something to take focus off the ghastly "Bombshell."
newly announced guest star is Sheryl Lee Ralph, who will be playing the mother of Veronica, Jennifer Hudson's character. Ralph has some pretty nifty credits of her own, including being the original Deena in "Dreamgirls" on Broadway. That gives her a fun connection to J-Hud, who famously won an Oscar as Effie in the movie version of the show. Ralph also appeared in the movie "Sister Act 2: Back to the Habit," which Vulture reports is supposed to be Jennifer Hudson's favorite movie of all time. And she's beautiful and talented, so a good match for Hudson. Will she be a barracuda of a mother, or have they already played that card with Bernadette Peters as Ivy's mum? Will she be fragile and clingy and create lots of messes her daughter has to clean up? That doesn't seem like Sheryl Lee Ralph. Maybe she'll be the life of the party who floats in and out and dazzles everybody, like the character Ralph played in "Thoroughly Modern Millie."
We haven't heard yet that Veronica will be important enough or have enough of a story to need a mother, but if she's there to do more than just reinforce the saintliness and wonder that is Karen, it will be a step in the right direction. And having a mom who presents conflict of any kind certainly doesn't connect her to Karen, the one with the sweet parental units back in Iowa.
And whether Hayes and Ralph are just more props for Karen, or they get to do something a lot more fun and satisfying, the best news is that cool stars with real Broadway chops keep getting added to the show. That can't be a bad thing!