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The Price of Liberty

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“The Price of Liberty”

S3 E3

Production 43018
Original Airdate: September 28, 1975
S03E03.-.Erpresserische.Rache.avi 002113440
Working against time
Produced by
Kenneth Johnson
Teleplay by
Kenneth Johnson
Story by
Justin Edgerton & Kenneth Johnson
Directed by
Richard Moder
Guest Cast
Guest Star(s)
Chuck Connors as Nils Lindstrom
and
Sandy Ward as Doug Witherspoon
Co-starring
Henry Beckman as Robert Meyer
With
Scott B. Wells as Man
Bill Quinn as Tom
George Jordan as Bill
Joe Brooks as Doorman
Broadcast Order
Season 3
← Previous Next →
"The Return of the Bionic Woman (Part II)" "The Song and Dance Spy"

Summary

Scientist and explosives-expert Robert Meyer has been jobless since a cutback in the space program and feels the country has let him down. His scheme is to ransom the Liberty Bell for five million dollars and safe passage out of the United States. Steve locates the Bell, which has been wired with a highly sophisticated explosive device, requiring an expert to defuse it. In a race against time, Steve and Oscar are compelled to call upon the expertise of an explosives specialist, Nils Lindstrom, who is serving time in prison.

Deconstructed

Quotes

Doorman: Morning, Colonel Austin.
Steve: Mornin'
Doorman: You're up awfully early for Sunday.
Steve: Well, I got a speech to write this morning. The way I write 'em, I gotta get an early start, you know?


Meyer: The American dream was like a beautiful balloon, Mr. Austin, but balloons have a way of bursting in your face and then there's nothing left but air.


Steve: Lindstrom? (Lindstrom is shaving, doesn't answer) I need your help.
Lindstrom: That a fact?
Steve: Robert Meyer created a timebomb that's gonna destroy the Liberty Bell in less than five hours.
Lindstrom: I heard. Ain't that a shame?
Steve Austin: You're the one man that might be able to defuse that bomb.
Lindstrom: (chuckles) And I ain't interested.


Steve: Look, Lindstrom, there's a job to be done. If you wanna tackle it, fine. If you don't, I'll put you right back in the can.
Lindstrom: All right... (pants) But under one condition: if I'm gonna get myself blown up, you are gonna be in there with me.
Steve: (unflinching) Where else do you think I'd be?


Lindstrom: (to Steve) If you don't make it, they'll be picking us up with a sponge.


Lindstrom: You know, maybe Meyer had the right idea putting America over a barrel. This country's given some people a raw deal.
Steve: Well, some people have given this country a raw deal. Nothing's perfect, Nils, this country's basically what we make it, nothing better, nothing worse.


Doug: Swedish, huh? You know, the first time this bell was cracked in 1752, it was recast in Philadelphia by a man named Sven Bergman. He just arrived from Stockholm.
Lindstrom: Now look, I'm not interested in your nickel and dime philosophy or history lessons. Man, you must bore that kid o' yours stiff.
Doug: Yeah, that I did... but not anymore, I lost him in Korea.


Lindstrom: I don't understand you. With your strength and speed, you could have just beat it out of here, saved your own tail.
Steve: I wouldn't expect you to understand.


Trivia

Special effects

  • When Steve hurls the wrench at the car wheel, a unique sound effect is heard that differs from the "bombs away" sound that had by this point been established to accompany throwing actions.

Gaffes

  • The first scenes of the money in the case show the bills bound with money bands but when the heart attack happens and the villain lets the case open and the money fly out, it's not banded and doesn't appear to be enough cash to add up to 5 million dollars (and besides it was fake money compared to the closeups of real money).
  • When the second bomb is accidentally triggered, Steve easily hurls it out of the truck. One wonders why he didn't do the same thing with the first bomb.
  • Doug says his son was lost in Korea. The appears to be a reference to the Korean conflict of 1950-53, yet Doug appears to be too young to have had a military service-aged son killed in action some 23-25 years earlier. (One could speculate that the original script had stated the son was lost in Viet Nam, and that a "suit" asked for the change due to the sensitivity regarding that conflict. It was not unusual for studios and networks to ask for changes of this nature at the time.)
Credibility
  • Steve offers Lindstrom a "full Congressional pardon". However, Steve, as an employee of the Executive Branch, does not have the authority to speak for the legislature. Additionally, he completely misrepresents the United States Constitution. Article 2, Clause 1 of the US Constitution reserves the power of pardon exclusively to the President of the United States. However, given the circumstances, it's not unreasonable to assume that either the President or Congress would agree to such a thing, and authorize Steve to pass along the offer.
  • For whatever reason (probably budgetary), the fake Liberty Bell used in this episode certainly does not look like the real Liberty Bell!
  • The villains who steal the Liberty Bell drive their getaway truck on a very long dirt driveway supposedly behind Independence Hall.  No such driveway is or has ever been behind, in front of, or anywhere near Independence Hall.  Independence Square, which contains Independence Hall and several other historic buildings, is the size of a typical Philadelphia city block, and is surrounded in all directions by numerous tall and bulky buildings.  Today, the Liberty Bell is located in a separate building across the street (Chestnut Street) from Independence Hall.
  • Oscar radios to law enforcement agencies that Steve has informed him that the stolen Liberty Bell is being transported in a truck "somewhere within an area twenty-five miles southeast of Philadelphia."  Such a location would be in Southern New Jersey, across the Delaware River. "Southwest of Philadelphia" would have been more likely.
  • There are no wooded, mountainous or hilly areas as those seen (after the Liberty Bell is stolen) anywhere near Philadelphia, or even anywhere in Southeastern Pennsylvania; or Southern New Jersey, for that matter.  The terrain in the episode is entirely Californian.
  • Sandy Ward, the Philadelphia bomb squad fellow, states that a "man named Sven Bergman, who had just arrived from Stockholm" recast the Liberty Bell after it cracked the very first time in 1752.  It was actually two Philadelphia artisans named John Pass and John Stow who recast the bell, and this occurred in 1753.
  • When the bomb explodes in the air above the truck, it's trailing a cord (maybe to detonate it).  That cord is not seen inside the truck when Steve throws the bomb outside the truck.

Conjecture

It is ironic that in an episode about fundamental American values, the writers would have made such a basic Constitutional error in having Steve offer a "Congressional Pardon". That said, there have been moves in the 110th Congress (2007-2009) to create an effective "congressional pardon". The theory, as yet untested by the Supreme Court, would hold that Congess can deny funding to jail a particular prisoner, thereby giving him a de facto pardon. Even if such pardons do occur, however, they would not be "full" pardons in that they wouldn't restore voting rights, erase felony convictions, or otherwise set aside the civil penalties of a guilty verdict. Moreover, such a concept was in no way considered at the time of the filming of this episode.

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