Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Confidence Man

The last time I went to the pet store I picked up a brochure for Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Pet Foods, Inc., which is a bit of a misnomer, since it appears that the business is actually run by erstwhile "Scarecrow and Mrs. King" guest star Jimmy Van Patten. The top of the brochure notes, "Buy with Confidence from a Family you can trust," and the haphazard capitalization is solely that of the Van Pattens.

What concerns me more than the syntax, though, is the message. What has Dick Van Patten accomplished other than being the dynast of a mediocre acting family that should earn my confidence in his ability to produce pet food? If anything, the scary picture of a 79-year-old Dick Van Patten, airbrushed to within an inch of his life and grinning as if little Nicholas has just done something spunky and cute, should undermine my trust in his family.

Whence does this trust arise? Timothy Van Patten, who played Salami on "The White Shadow" and thus was far and away the most notable non-Dick member of the family, was only Dick's half-brother, and thus Dick can't really trade on his name for this dog-food venture. Not if he has any conscience, anyway.

How far should this familial acting/pet foods thing go? Should I turn to Lloyd Bridges for fish flakes? Everybody knows Lani O'Grady carried "Eight Is Enough," anyway. So why should I trust your family, Dick? Huh? Huh?

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