Question: I write this fully aware that you have not seen the retooled 30 Rock pilot, but what are your thoughts on the network's drastic overhaul of Rachel Dratch's character (now characters)? I've heard nothing but glowing advance notices, and until recently there was no show I anticipated more. The fact that the network heads are retooling it already suggests that they might just trash it before it even airs. God knows, NBC has heard the phrase "tried and true" (just look at most of their programming), but haven't they heard the infinitely more useful "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"?
Answer: Having seen the original pilot, and being a big fan of Rachel Dratch (her first "Debbie Downer" skit may be the highlight of the last five years or so of Saturday Night Live), I can assure you that, aside from one very funny scene involving Alec Baldwin, an NBC page and a bottle of diarrhea medicine, there wasn't much for her to do. I actually like the idea that she'll be popping up in various characters (all of them, I'm assuming, extreme in nature) in what amounts to a running gag. I'd love for 30 Rock to use other past and present SNL talent in the same capacity (I'm convinced Maya Rudolph can do just about anything). As I noted in last Monday's column in a question about the much more troubled Brothers & Sisters, isn't it better to do the retooling now than once the show gets up and running, by which time it might be too late? First seasons are by their nature works in progress. A little patience and an open mind, please.