The World's Finest Presents
Episode #026 - Appointment in Crime Alley
Original Airdate - September 17th, 1992

Every year at the same time, Batman makes a pilgrimage to meet Dr. Leslie Thompkins. But this time a series of dangerous distractions keeps the Batman occupied, causing him to miss his appointment. Next to that, Daggett has hired arsonists to make sure that the part of Crime Alley goes up in flames to make way for his new condo development.

Media by Bird Boy
Reviews by Gaunt, Robin III
Credits
Written by Gerry Conway
Directed by Boyd Kirkland
Supervising Composer Shirley Walker
Music Composed by Stu Balcomb
Animation Services by Dong Yang Animation Co., LTD.

Voices
Kevin Conroy as Batman / Bruce Wayne
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Alfred Pennyworth
Ed Asner as Rolland Daggett
Mari Devon as Summer Gleeson
Angel Harper as Woman
David L. Lander as Nitro
Diana Muldaur as Dr. Leslie Thompkins
Bob Ridgely as Madman
Alexander Simmons as Girl
Jeffery Tambor as Crocker

Screen Grabs







Pans



Quotes
ALFRED: You don't want to be late for your 8 o'clock appointment, sir.
BRUCE: Have I ever been late, Alfred?
ALFRED: No, sir. Not once in all these years.
--
WOMAN: Leslie went looking for you. I told her to be careful. Bad things happen to people in Crime Alley.
BATMAN: I know.
--
BATMAN (from shadows): Who's the hostage?
SWAT LEADER: Ah, some clerk from Daggett Development. Wrong place at the wrong time with an eviction notice. Ten seconds, we make are move.
BATMAN: If you go, the hostage might be hurt. I'll do it.
SWAT LEADER: You'll do it? Who do you think you are?!
BATMAN WALKS FROM THE SHADOWS AND PAST THE SWAT LEADER.
SWAT LEADER: Oh.


Review (Gaunt): Introduction

Regarded by many as one of the best episodes of B:TAS, “Appointment at Crime Alley” is based on “There is No Hope in Crime Alley,” a 1970s Batman story written by Denny O’Neil. In it, Batman returns to the place where his parents were murdered and reinforces why he does what he does. The story is ambitious, one that attempts is display the inner grief of the Dark Knight. What makes this unfortunate is that the animated adaptation clearly doesn’t want to examine Batman closely, instead turning the story into something purely political.

Politics

The episode depends on one man: Roland Dagget. Dagget wants to destroy Park Row (Crime Alley) and redevelop it into something more profitable. Nonetheless, the people of Crime Alley oppose this, as they don’t want to lose their homes.

Politics has an amazing ability to divide people, a force that can reduce ordinarily clear-thinking individuals into mindless partisans spewing propaganda they have accumulated in the course of a lifetime. Such is the case of Gerry Conway, writer of this episode.

The key to understanding this lies in understanding the obvious bias in the episode. Dagget, the corporate businessman, seeks to gain more money no matter who stands in his way. The people of Crime Alley are the downtrodden, good people who just want to keep their homes. Conway clearly goes out of his way to make Dagget appear as a cold-hearted individual, even having him say, “We cannot allow the underclass to hinder us anymore.” Dagget is meant to represent business. To him, the poor are the good guys and business is therefore bad.


But nonetheless, Conway forgets the (supposedly) key figure: Batman. Batman was created by urban crime, his family shot and killed before his eyes by a common mugger in Crime Alley. But strangely, crime doesn’t seem to exist in Crime Alley. The denizens are clearly good people in this episode, the only “evil” person being the upper-class Dagget. But this itself contradicts Batman’s past connection to Crime Alley, the entire reason he came to Crime Alley. Batman’s parents were not killed by greedy industrialists, they were killed by common crime.

But this is impossible in Conway’s version. As said before, Conway wishes to depict corporate America as a particularly destructive force. If Park Row is infested with crime (as it is supposed to be, hence “Crime Alley”), then there is a degree of logic in Dagget’s scheme: crime is eliminated in that area, the city economy is aided by new businesses, and taxpayer money is saved. But Conway wants the audience supporting the denizens of Park Row. Thus, he eliminates any trace of reason, instead adopting a ruthless appearance for business (note the mysterious disappearance of Wayne Enterprises in this episode, something key to Batman’s character in B:TAS).

I’m not saying that politics shouldn’t be included in the Batman universe. But the writer, if he desires to tread this ground, should be fair. Yes, Dagget’s redevelopment can really help the city, but previous denizens, even the innocent, would be forced to leave their homes. Yes, some people (who have lived all of their lives at Crime Alley) will be forced out of their homes, but Park Row has become a nightmare of crime and sorrow. Both situations have good benefits and big consequences. Stories should stimulate the reader’s (or viewer’s) thought and allow him to think for themselves, not force a viewpoint down a person’s throat. Unfortunately, Conway’s story belongs to the latter: if you sympathize with Dagget, you’re a cold-hearted bastard.

Batman’s Role

With all this talk of political bias, one must wonder what the Dark Knight is doing in the episode. Again, Batman’s reason for coming to Crime Alley (the same night, every year) is to reaffirm his reason for fighting crime: to avenge his parents.

But as said before, crime is nonexistent in Conway’s Park Row. The people just want to live out their lives in peace. If a person is new to the Batman universe, one might be confused as to how his parent’s died in the first place. What makes this so amusing is that Denny O’Neil’s story, the entire basis of this adaptation, acknowledges that street crime killed his parents.

In “There is No Hope at Crime Alley,” Batman comes to Crime Alley to fight street crime, not villains such as the Joker or Scarecrow. He returns to Crime Alley to show that he hasn’t forgotten what made him in the first place. Now, this motivation cannot fit in Conway’s version, as Conway cannot show a hint of crime in Park Row. Thus, he makes up a new one: Batman returns to visit where his parents died in order to place two roses in remembrance of them. But, ironically enough, this has unforeseen consequences.

Throughout the story, Batman experiences several “inconveniences,” each detailing the “evils” of Mr. Dagget (with the exception of a runaway trolley, which, in my opinion, is padding to provide some action to the story). But the problem is that these “inconveniences” are just that: inconveniences. Batman’s reason for coming to Crime Alley lies in returning to the place where his parent’s were murdered, not in helping out people in Crime Alley. Given this new motivation, Batman logically shouldn’t care about the common folk: he just wants to remember his parents.

But Conway cannot have this. The hero must be sympathetic to the people of Crime Alley. Thus, a contradiction in Batman’s character occurs. He came to Crime Alley for personal reasons, yet still cares enough to help the “innocent denizens” of Park Row.

Leslie Thompkins

Finally, this episode marks the first appearance of the animated Leslie Thompkins, volunteer doctor at Park Row. Described as “the angel of mercy in Batman’s world,” Leslie is yet another beloved supporting cast member by Batman fans.

This episode is a perfect example of why she doesn’t work.

Put simply, what did she add to the episode (or any of her other appearances for that matter)? She is supposed to have a big connection with Batman’s past, yet no true connection is found in the present. In fact, her entire appearance in the episode is essentially that of a plot device: have her kidnapped so Batman can stumble on Dagget’s plan. And that’s what she has always been in the vast majority of her appearances. She adds nothing new to Batman’s character and only takes up space.

Conclusion

“Appointment at Crime Alley” can only be described as a train-wreck of an episode. Instead of focusing on the Dark Knight or the villains that he faces, the episode is pure political propaganda. Bad animation and illogical reasoning only compounds the problems inherent with the episode.

Review (Robin III): A very well done episode demonstrating what Batman does when he is not saving the world from demented villains. Instead, it shows Batman helping out the little people in Gotham. Also, this episode makes Rolland Daggett as more of a Lex Luthor type villain. This would have been an interesting side plot to other episodes, but was never really extended beyond a few shows.

Great moments aplenty occur in this episode. Batman stops a hostage situation, with a pretty humorous quip with the SWAT team leader. Batman also stops a runaway trolley car in an action packed car scene.

This is also one of the few episodes where Batman acknowledges why he is who he is. The whole episode leads to Batman meeting with Leslie Thompkins in Crime Alley to pay his respects to his dead parents. It is nice to see that for once, a hero has feelings.

As for the animation, the drawing was not at it's best but the vehicles were well done, maintaining a consistent shape while driving past the camera.

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