Batman: The Animated Series – Episode 12 – It’s Never Too Late
Director: Boyd Kirkland
Writer(s): Garin Wolf (Teleplay) and Tom Ruegger (Story)
Story Editor: Alan Burnett
Animation Studio: Spectrum Animation Studio
Theme Score: Shirley Walker
Episode Score: Lolita Ritmanis (Composer)
Welcome back to another installment of my review series, this time covering the 12th episode, “It’s Never Too Late.”
Garin Wolf, who wrote the teleplay to this episode, had previously been an associate head writer for the show As The World Turns from 1984 through 1987 and would later be head writer for General Hospital in the late 2000s.
I always enjoy seeing the mobster life of Gotham and this episode delivers, depicting Rupert Thorne’s group going head to head with Arnold Stromwell (voiced by Eugene Roche). To up the ante, Stromwell’s son, Joey, has gone missing and is presumed to be the victim of a kidnapping by his foe, Rupert Thorne.
The brass strings done by Ritmanis really captivates and compels the audience to tense up during the rushing train in the initial flashback to Arnold and his brother on the train tracks. The implied (and noted) death of his brother, who had escaped by jumping onto the other tracks, is pretty haunting stuff to think about and helps give Arnold a bit of a backstory sympathy nudge from the audience. After all, we’ve already met Thorne and he’s not a very nice fella. The utilization of strings towards the end as Thorne is pursuing Stromwell also plays out very nicely and helps boost the action scenes even with the sound effects in full display such as gunfire.
Roche does a great job voicing Stromwell carrying the necessary menace with the concerns of being a father on the hunt for his missing son. Roche had been a long-time actor in such shows as: Night Court, Webster, Magnum P.I., and Murder, She Wrote. The diner scene between he and Vernon is a lot of fun and it’s only fitting that Batman physically saves Stromwell from being blown up by Thorne, something he struggled to do with Harvey Dent in the prior episodes.
The writing and dialogue are mostly solid although around the twelve minute mark is when the episode starts to shift away from the more mob centric opening half to one that’s more emphasis on Batman trying to show Stromwell what his life has become as a way of showing him both the error of his ways and trying to get him to absolve himself of the guilt he has over his brother’s death. One unfortunate point in the episode occurs when Stromwell realizes he’s the man behind Joey’s drug addiction. It felt like both the dialogue and delivery from Who’s the Boss? actress Katherine Helmond as Connie were a little flat as the intensity didn’t quite reach the height the dialogue was trying to convey in the actual moment.
Some of the angles Kirkland utilizes are visually fun such as the slightly tilted aspect when Batman and Stromwell enter the Sunrise Foundation building and start to walk through the halls. I also really liked the long shot of Thorne and his men outside the building whilst the shattered chair thrown through the window by Batman lay in broken pieces just offset of the camera.
The end with Arnold re-living the event and Father Michael coming to help save Arnold is a decent book end from the start of the episode. Although it still feels kind of odd as an audience viewer that we tend to look at Arnold with more sympathetic eyes given he’s a drug pusher in comparison to Thorne. Also the solid first half gave way to a pretty mediocre second half that felt like it was trying to give too much time to two different stories: Arnold’s need to save himself and the Turf War between Arnold and Rupert.
Overall Score: 72. It’s a pretty solid episode overall with an intriguing first half that kind of falls apart in the second half up through the climax of the episode as it becomes uncertain as to what kind of episode it wants to be. Kirkland has some fun visual shots, Spectrum is solid animation wise, and Ritmanis nails it giving several scenes legitimate oomph and punch.
You can see the rest of my BTAS Episode Reviews: at this link
In two weeks comes the infamous episode, “I’ve Got Batman In My Basement.”