This is 500 words about a Batman episode. This is the BATMAN 500.
Honestly, I forget about “Appointment In Crime Alley” a lot when I remember this show. Even more honestly, I forgot about it totally before it showed up as the next episode on the DVD. If someone was to ask me about other Batman: The Animated Series entries, I’d go into detail about the themes and the characters and the plot, but if you asked me to tell you about “Appointment In Crime Alley,” I’d mutter something about buildings and fires before running out of the room screaming.
Batman: “Roland Daggett is up to something.”
Alfred: “That almost goes with saying, sir.”
Roland Daggett is back and man, is he unlikable. We last saw him in the Clayface two-parter, and once again, Daggett isn’t so much the “Napoleon of crime” as he is the “big wet fart of crime.” That’s not to take anything away from Ed Asner’s vocal performance – Asner has what can best be described as a lovable growl of a voice. It sounds like he’s secretly method acting as a talking bear. It’s just that his approach to crime still seems to be messy and all over the place. Rupert Thorne at least gets to sit at the top of a big building and scheme. Daggett enters a local Target and immediately starts trying to dynamite the sporting goods section.
This time, Daggett wants to destroy Park Row, which includes a little piece of prime real estate called Crime Alley. As you probably know because you’re reading something called the “BATMAN 500,” that is where Bruce’s parents got shot. This also leads to Batman crossing paths with Leslie Thompkins, the doctor who helped Bruce cope when his mom and dad passed. She doesn’t get a lot to do either, and is mostly just Aunt May #14. “I got kidnapped. I was there when you were a boy. I know that you’re Batman. Some slight moral advice. Later!”
I guess the biggest problem with “Appointment In Crime Alley” is that it just doesn’t gel in the way that the best “crime” episodes of this series do. “It’s Never Too Late” and “P.O.V.” either had a satisfying wrap-up or a cool gimmick, respectively, but “Appointment In Crime Alley” has stuff happening, followed by Chicken Soup for the Soul, followed by more stuff happening. It undermines itself.
Batman stops a sniper that’s unsatisfied with how his Park Row existence has gone. That’s cool, and it might lead to the bigger picture of how the economic state of Park Row has led to people doing insane things to make a living or get fulfillment. But then Batman has to stop a runaway trolley with the Batmobile, and any semblance of momentum when it comes to progressing this theme is lost. So, instead of a coherent episode, you get a bunch of action set pieces, with “Poor people are nice people, too!” shouted at you at five minute intervals. It’s a good theme, but one that could’ve been delved into way more effectively.