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
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.
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
ALFRED: You don't want to be late for your 8 o'clock
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
“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
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
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