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Television was a frequent target in Zappa's music, even though he made use of the medium to promote his music. He made a few appearances in TV shows and made references to TV series in his lyrics.
Favorite TV shows
TV Presenters, actors and comedians
Appearances in TV shows as guest, performer or actor
- Steve Allen
- Zappa wrote Dear Jeepers and Letter From Jeepers for horror TV show host Bob Guy, who played his character Jeepers.
- Zappa wrote the composition The Big Squeeze for a tv commercial for cough drops: Luden's Cough Drop Commercial
- Zappa wrote Boy Wonder I Love You for actor Burt Ward, who played Robin the Wonder Boy on the TV series Batman.
- Saturday Night Live
- What's My Line?
- Make Me Laugh
- Johnny Carson
- Zappa played a cameo role as a hunchback in Faerie Tale Theatre.
- He played a drug dealer in the Miami Vice episode "Payback".
- Zappa was a presenter for the Financial News Network at the end of the 1980s, start of the 1990s.
- Frank Zappa's Wild Wild East
- Ren And Stimpy (as the voice of the Pope)
- Duckman (his music was used in the first season)
Documentaries and TV concerts
References to television in Zappa's music
- You Didn't Try To Call Me (1966 - Los Angeles): "I was still watching television"
- Trouble Every Day:
- It Can't Happen Here: "Just cook your TV dinner and make it."/"Oh, we're gonna get a TV dinner and cook it up".
- Brown Shoes Don't Make It: "TV dinner by the pool"/"Life's a ball, TV tonight".
- The title of Lumpy Gravy was based on Loma Linda Gravy mix.
- Mr. Green Genes and Son Of Mr. Green Genes are based on the character Mr. Green Genes from the children's show "Captain Kangaroo".
- What Kind Of Girl Do You Think We Are?: "Wall-mounted TV screens".
- Dental Hygiene Dilemma: "It's just as if Donovan appeared on my very own TV set with words of peace, love and eternal cosmic wisdom".
- Billy The Mountain: Jerry Lewis' telethons are referenced
- Call Any Vegetable on Just Another Band From L.A.: the American comedic duo Bob & Ray are mentioned
- I'm The Slime
- The scene in Stink-Foot where the poodle brings the slippers was a parody of a 1974 TV commercial for Dr. Scholl's foot spray.
- Penguin In Bondage: "This song suggests to the suggestible listener that the ordinary procedure, uh, that I'm circumlocuting at this present time in order to get this text on television."
- Debra Kadabra: "Turn it to Channel 13!"
- Disco Boy: "She's gonna fall for your line and feed you a box full of chicken delight!" (reference to the fast food product "Chicken Delight", well known thanks to the TV jingles)
- Jewish Princess and Massaggio Galore reference the yell Hi-ho, Silver! Away!, a phrase from "The Lone Ranger".
- Crew Slut: The line "add water, makes its own sauce" is a reference to a dog food commercial for Gravy Train. "So call before midnight tonight" is a typical line from tv commercials.
- No Not Now, the Thing-Fish version of You Are What You Is (The Track) and The Untouchables: the line "Book 'em Dano" is a reference to "Hawaii Five-O".
- Conehead, a reference to a sketch on Saturday Night Live.
- Be In My Video, a parody of MTV.
- The character Thingfish in Thing-Fish is based on the character "Kingfish" from the TV show Amos & Andy.
- One-Adam-Twelve is referenced on the Thing-Fish version of You Are What You Is (The Track).
- We're Turning Again: "We can laugh at (...) the color TV"
- The theme from The Twilight Zone is quoted in Jesus Thinks You're A Jerk
- Promiscuous: "C-Span showed him, all dressed up"
- The theme from The Twilight Zone and The Untouchables are quoted in Rhymin' Man.
- The title of The Untouchables is a reference to the 1950s TV crime series. The song itself also references "Felix the Cat", by demanding that John Poindexter returns to that show. Admiral Poindexter was a character on this animated TV series.
- The title of Night School is a reference to a TV project that Zappa was unable to fulfill.
- The version of The Torture Never Stops on The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life features a musical quote from "The Addams Family" and "I Love Lucy".
- Theme From "Bonanza"
- "Battlestar Galactica" is referenced at the end of the Sharleena version on You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 3.
- This Ain't CNN
- Outrage At Valdez was written for a TV documentary about the Exxon Valdez scandal.
- Ask Dr. Stupid is a reference to Ren And Stimpy
- Ike Willis' frequent yell of "Hi-ho, Silver! Away!" is a reference to The Lone Ranger.
- Dano is a character from Hawaii Five-O
- Ike Willis sometimes imitated Count Floyd's howl on stage, much to Zappa's amusement.
- TV's are mentioned in Hunchentoot
- During the 1980s Zappa wrote some satirical songs about TV evangelists, most notably Jimmy Swaggart.