"The Price of Liberty"

(Original air date 09/28/75)


Steve seeks assistance from a prisoner to defuse an intricate
device planted in the Liberty Bell


Story: Justin Edgerton & Kenneth Johnson

Teleplay: Kenneth Johnson

Director: Richard Moder

Two police officers (Bill Quinn & George Jordan) guard America’s Liberty Bell before it embarks on a tour of the nation to commemorate America’s Bicentennial during which Steve is scheduled to make a speech.

Soon, scientist and explosive expert, Robert Meyer (Henry Beckman) and his associate Joe (Scott B. Wells), both posing as deliverymen, show up to pick up this symbol of a proud nation. However when the discharge papers are contested, they both knock the guards out with tear gas and steal the bell.


They load the priceless item onto a truck and drive away just as Steve shows up. He thinks nothing of it until he discovers the two officers slowly regaining consciousness.


He then takes off after the truck, jumps on top, rips a hole in the roof and jumps in, unaware of the man inside guarding the bell. Surprised by the intrusion, he throws a tear gas canister that renders Steve unconscious.


Arrived at destination, Meyer transfers the bell onto another truck and instructs his men to get rid of the vehicle and their unwanted guest. They drive up a hill and let the truck freewheel down the road. Inside, Steve regains his senses and leaps out of the vehicle before it flies off a cliff.


Aboard a helicopter, Steve coordinates the search with the ground team led by Oscar who fills him in on Meyer’s background. A World War II decorated hero with a deep knowledge of explosives, he was dispensed of his services in the Space Program after a debilitating heart attack.

Steve finally spots the truck in the middle of an open field. He signals the pilot to land the chopper near the area and continues the rest of the way to meet with Meyer. There he learns of his outrageous demand: five million dollars and a safe passage out of the country in exchange for the code to deactivate an explosive device attached to the bell. The countdown is on to seven hours and forty-seven minutes.


Oscar won’t be intimidated by the charlatan and refuses to give in to his demand, but Steve convinces him otherwise knowing Meyer’s knowledge is no match for a common ordinary ATF team. He suggests acceding to the mad scientist’s request in order to defuse the bomb and eliminate the threat, after which he intends to bring him back to face justice for his crimes.

Along with the ransom money Oscar brings in explosive expert Doug Witherspoon (Sandy Ward) as a precautionary measure in the event things should turn sour. He watches Steve walk up to Meyer to present him with the briefcase-load of money.


Meyer is ecstatic. His plan worked like a charm. Just one more step and he’ll be free. But before he can board the awaiting helicopter he is seized by a powerful heart attack. Before dying Meyer gives Steve the color combination of the wires he’ll need to deactivate the bomb.

Time is counting down. Oscar requests an FBI list of the world’s explosive experts closest to Meyer’s range of expertise. The one man living in the vicinity is Neils Lindstrom (Chuck Connors) who is serving time in Virginia.

Steve proposes a trade. Deactivate the bomb in exchange for the governor’s pardon and a chance to start anew. Lindstom wavers but finally accepts the deal.


Once on the outside he tries to break free. At the airfield, Lindstrom knocks a guard out and tries to make a clean get away but the car won’t start. The setback gives Steve time to disable the vehicle by throwing a monkey wrench in the front tire. After a short struggle, Steve threatens Lindstrom to haul him back to jail should he attempt another escape.


Back in Washington, Lindstrom inspects the outside of the truck for concealed wires, severing them before deeming it safe to enter. A close call occurs when Steve tears open a hole in the roof. Luckily everyone escapes the blast unscathed.


Inside they get to work on the first of three bombs attached to the bell. So far so good but the second is wired differently. Both Doug and Neils duck for cover as Steve rips the device from the floor and hurls it out the truck through the hole in the roof where it explodes. Slightly injured from the impact of the blast, Doug is forced to retire, thus leaving only two players to race against time.


Lindstrom begins having serious doubts about this ridiculous notion that he can outwit the master of explosives. Time is running out and so is his confidence. Steve is quick to remind him of their deal, but that he is free to return to jail if he so pleases. Lindstrom won’t have it and decides to stay. Both sweaty men reach the final stage of the defusing process, which is to join the correct combination of wires.

Steve recalls that before dying Meyer gave him a color grouping, but he has second thoughts about the sincerity of this ‘deathbed’ confession. What if Meyer intentionally provided him with the deadly combination as his way to go out in style? Steve trusts his instincts to go against Meyer. His hunch proves to be accurate. The bomb is deactivated seconds before the end of the countdown.

In spite of everything Lindstrom is proud of his achievement.


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