Anybody remember After Dark screensavers?
These were from the glory days when screensavers were still cool. They came on floppy drives (yes, remember those?) and the memories I have of just sitting and watching them have stuck with me.
Now, After Dark has faded out of existence, and if you download free screensavers, you run the risk of getting spyware and viruses. What's a screensaver-lover to do nowadays?
I had the Star Trek: TOS and TNG ones and the original After Dark as well, but the one I remember most fondly was the Simpsons After Dark. God, those were awesome screensavers.
I grabbed the files from my dad's jump drive recently and thought I'd take a ridiculously in-depth look at all these screensavers.
I found some stats on the Simpsons screensaver:
"The Simpsons Screen Saver
UPC 093462 501437 (CD-ROM)
Supplied on 3.5" floppy or CD-ROM
Requires a 386 computer and above, Microsoft Windows 3.1 or later (Enhanced mode), a VGA monitor or better, 4Mb of RAM, and 5Mb of free hard disk space. Sound Blaster or compatible sound card recommended. EcoLogic supports Energy Star compliant monitors only."
Uh oh. A 386. Windows 3.1. 5 meg of space. 4 meg of ram. Some steep requirements, no?
If you're not familiar with After Dark, this is what the menu looked like.
The screensaver started when you moved your cursor to the top left corner of your screen and let it sit there.
The first one on the list:
This was basically a whole screensaver based on the chalkboard gags at the beginning of every Simpsons episode. Bart would write the same sentence over and over on the board, for instance, "My homework was not stolen by a one-armed man". When he filled the board up, he'd erase it and a new sentence would begin. You could set how often he'd make mistakes or how messy his handwriting was as well. Not much to explain.
These were short, Simpson's related lists.
On this one, Grampa Simpson would appear in a purple chair and occasionally say phrases like "Where were we?"
"There are too many states nowadays!"
"I want my pills!"
Sometimes he would fall asleep and he would float on a cloud before being jolted back into awakeness.
This was one of several of the Simpsons After Dark screensavers that you could set to clear the screen before starting it or not.
In this one, Homer and Flanders are both mowing their lawns in dresses. This is based on an early episode, but I don't remember which.
This was another one that you could set to clear the screen before beginning or not. This is what it looks like if you don't clear the screen first.
Basically, it's what the title says. You can set different things for Homer to eat, like pizza, candy bars, crispy treats (like Rice Krispies), waffles, or ice cream...
but my personal favorite was the one where he ate your desktop.
Marge also walked around laying down other items for Homer to eat between rows, like american cheese and pork rinds. She put down fruit as well, but he typically skipped over that.
That screensaver still makes me hungry to this day. Incidentally, you could set where Homer showed butt cleavage or not. That's so...classy.
How To Draw
This screensaver was basically a step-by-step walkthrough of how to draw the Simpsons. It would offer little tips in text balloons along the way, like...
Sometimes the tips would tell you which Pantone color to use or things like that. Eventually, if you followed closely, you would end up with a full-blown Simpson.
I never actually attempted to draw the Simpsons while this screensaver played. I just liked watching the screensaver do it automatically.
Another thing I liked about this screensaver was the little portraits they would show in between the tutorials, like...
I later realized that these portraits were all from actual Simpsons episodes. The one of Homer as the donut was from an early Treehouse of Horror where Homer sells his soul to the devil for a donut. Marge and Maggie's portraits were from the same episode, I think, in the background while the narrators were speaking, and possibly Bart's also? I don't remember explicitly which one Bart's was from. (They don't show early Simpsons much anymore). Lisa's was from Last Exit to Springfield, fourth season, while she was gassed and getting braces.
The next screensaver was an Itchy and Scratchy one, I believe. I loved the screensaver, but I don't remember this one very much and can't show you any screenshots because my parents deleted it. At the time, I was a very small child and they thought it was too violent for me. (scoff). If anything, they should have deleted the Simpsons Clocks-Krusty one for being too disturbing and creepy, but I'm getting to that in a bit.
I still want that freaking Itchy and Scratchy screensaver back. If only, if only.
This one was basically Krusty doing various performances. It would always start with the spotlight searching for him. Whenever the spotlight found him, he was always doing something else, like looking at a magazine.
Anyway, he would notice shortly that he was on air and start his performance. He'd typically juggle and/or ride a unicycle. Sometimes he would make shadow puppets.
You could set how well the audience received his act. Sometimes they would cheer. Sometimes it would just end. Sometimes you could hear the sound of crickets. Sometimes they threw tomatoes at him.
Krusty gets no respect.
Lisa's Mood Swings
In this one, Lisa walks out and plays her sax. Her mood would be either happy...
I used to try to buzz along with her on my kazoo. :P
This was one of my favorites. There was so much going on in this one. I can still sit and watch this one for long stretches of time and it holds my interest.
It's basically got Mr. Burns and Smithers in it. Mr. Burns occasionally shouts things like "Get back to work!"
When I was little, I used to watch this screensaver and pretend I was working on something so as not to piss off Mr. Burns. :D
Sometimes Smithers will disappear into an elevator.
Sometimes Mr. Burns will snap his fingers for Smithers to bring him something, like a portrait of him or a statue.
After Smithers did this, he would typically say "excellent" and walk off screen.
Sometimes he would check the security cameras to see what his employees were doing.
Sometimes, thought balloons would pop up that showed what Burns and Smithers were thinking.
Occasionally, a toxic cloud would appear, which Mr. Burns would hide from, leaving Smithers out in the open.
The cloud would go inside Mr. Burns's radiation bunker instead and Mr. Burns would come out mutated in some way.
My absolute favorite part of this screensaver is the part where the duck comes out toting a tank of nuclear waste.
That duck is awesome.
Very involved for a screensaver, is it not? That's what I like about After Dark. The creativity of it all.
Bart spray-paints all over everything, hoping not to get caught by Principal Skinner, and in the middle of it all, Nelson is running around trying to punch Milhouse. Like Mr. Burns, this one is one I can sit and watch for a very long time and still be transfixed by.
Not much to say about this one. A bunch of Simpsons heads floating around and occasionally knocking into each other.
This one had three different clocks you could choose from.
The Duff Beer clock was my favorite. Things would pop out of its doors occasionally, like...
Some random dude sitting on a couch.
This clock was awesome.
The Maggie clock was all right. It really didn't leave that much of an impression on me. It's basically Maggie walking across the screen and falling down a lot while the clock sucks on the pacifier.
And the really horribly creepy one...
The clock is designed like one of those cat clocks with the tail pendulums and the eyes that move back and forth, which are just plain creepy anyway, even though I really like cats.
But this clock is ten times worse because it's A FREAKING CLOWN.
The clock's eyes move back and forth and his tongue swings like a pendulum. All the while Krusty's voice shrieks "HEY, HEEEY, KIDS!" over and over again, incessantly.
But that's not the worst part.
As we Simpsons fans all know, Krusty products are not very well manufactured.
If you sat and watched this clock long enough, it would start to break down, becoming exponentially more creepy as it progressed.
First, the clock would start sparking.
Then, its eyes would pop out of their sockets. Sometimes it was one, then the other.
Sometimes it was both at once.
The voice shouting "HEY, HEEEY, KIDS!" the whole time continued throughout, but eventually started malfunctioning as well.
Also, if you were especially unlucky (though this didn't happen every time), Krusty's pendulum tongue would stop working, elongate to this horrifically scary length, and then just hang there limp like something dead.
Then, once this image had lingered long enough to permanently burn itself into my frail young consciousness, the clock would explode in a final burst of malfunction.
I don't know why my parents deleted the Itchy and Scratchy screensaver and left this monstrosity on. It literally freaked me out. You can't call me a wimp because I was scared of it, though. If you had seen that when you were five-ish, you would have been freaked out by it too.
I know it was meant to be a sly reference to the show, but it scarred me in ways I will probably never comprehend and don't feel up to commenting on. As such, it's my least favorite Simpsons After Dark screensaver.
This is a Simpsons Trivia game that you can actually play along with if you press Caps Lock, I think. It's pretty cool.
This one, the last on the Simpsons After Dark set, is a lot like the Flying Toasters After Dark screensaver, except using flying Snowball I angels, the cat the Simpsons used to have before she was run over by a car. I always liked the music it played.
Just as a side note, Snowball I runs really fast because of how much more advanced my computer is compared with a 386.
Well, that's it. I finally got through them all. I'm sure that was as exhausting for you to read as it was for me to write, so thanks for your patience.
I might go over some of the other After Darks eventually, if I can get them to run on my Vista computer. I got the classic After Dark set to run somehow, but neither of the Star Treks seemed to work. It's a shame, because I love both the Star Trek After Darks.
I'll do my best. Ciao!