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PASSPORT TO DANGER

passport_to_danger_tv_ptd1
 
Full Name: Steve McQuinn
Series Name: Passport To Danger
Nationality: American
Organization: U.S. State Department
Occupation Agent

Creator: Robert C. Dennis
Time Span: 1954 - 1956

ABOUT THE SERIES

       Steven 'Steve' McQuinn is an American diplomatic courier.
       Working for the U.S. State Department, the job of the courier is summed up quite nicely in the opening blurb told at the start of each of the televised adventures: "One of the vital functions of the United States Government is to establish and maintain diplomatic relations with other countries. In every friendly and civilized nation in the world there is an American embassy or legation. Whether it is Paris or Cairo, Shanghai or any other remote outpost, the most reliable and confidential means of communication is the Courier service.
Armed only with his passport, the courier, like a global postman delivers the top secret dispatches of our Government."
       Working in this capacity, McQuinn is as likely to be sent to capital in Europe as he is to one in Africa or Asia. In fact, in the 39 adventures we have of him, he hits some major city in each of the inhabited continents. No city was repeated in this sequence. Europe was by far the most 'popular' destination with 13 different countries hit. Asia was traveled to a fair number of times with the Americas, Australia, and Africa getting a few visits.
       McQuinn worked alone and, as the blurb above indicated, he did so without being armed except for his fists and his diplomacy; with regards the former, he did not resort to physical violence that often because he was pretty good at using his brain and his wit and his tact.
       McQuinn, approximately 45 years old during the time of these stories, is extremely urbane, sophisticated, well-bred and well-spoken, and has a tremendously effusive and ready smile that can light up a room or diffuse a tense situation. At the same time, however, that smile can disappear instantly and his face take on a far sterner mein when trouble persists. His ability to turn to a man of action is highly impressive and not a little worrisome.
       If all that McQuinn became involved in during his constant traveling around the globe was, as the opening sequence showed, having a diplomatic pouch handcuffed to his wrist as he either headed out to some embassy or returned to D.C., interest in his movements would have waned almost immediately. Travelogues can be interesting but lacking in excitement and watching him woo beautiful women over and over would have been voyeuristic in nature and prone to envy. What made the McQuinn stories so enjoyable were the "extracurricular" activities this courier got involved in that definitely did not fall within the normal job expectations.
       There are a few adventures in which unpleasant things happen during the 'normal' execution of his duties, such as combating those who want to steal what he is transporting or getting it back once it has been stolen (South Vietnam, Baja, India, Ireland).
       Then there are the times he is called upon to rescue people from kidnappers, or bandits, or other types of criminals (Spain, Burma, Brazil, Italy, Greece, Malaysia).
       Several times he is asked to give aid to refugees fleeing totalitarian nations (Tangiers, Switzerland, Czechoslavakia).
       More than a few times he is involved in saving old friends either from nasty people out to do them harm or from their own foibles (France, Cuba, Italy) or catching the killers of those unfortunate chums (Iran, Macao).
       There are many instances of McQuinn doing what would be considered normal spycraft not in the courier handbook (France, Turkey, Syria, England, Yugoslavia, United States, Australia, Monaco, Morocco) or handling police work for which he has no badge (Peru, Philippines, Austria, Scotland, Antigua, South Africa, Israel).
       The remaining adventures tend to really defy labelling but sound like a lot of fun to watch as well.

Good line:

Regarding always meeting new women in each place he visited, McQuinn commented that he felt like a sailor too often, lamenting, "For once, I'd like to say hello to the same girl I said goodbye to the last trip."

BOOKS



       There are no tv-tie-in books for this series. There is a 3-book young adult series by Mary Reeves Bell using Passport to Danger as the series title but they are not related. Similarly, the Hardy Boys and their fellow sleuth Nancy Drew each have a single adventure with that name. There are also a couple of singletons with that title, again unrelated.

TELEVISION


Number of Episodes:39
First Appearance:1954
Last Appearance:1956
Network:Syndicated

REGULAR CAST
Cesar RomeroSteve McQuinn [ 1 ]

       In the television landscape of 1954, there were a large number of stations being created throughout the country. Most of them were affiliated with one of the major networks, of which there were only, really, three: ABC, CBS, and NBC. Each of those presented programming to be aired during the day and prime time but those stations not actually owned by the networks had the right to drop shows they did not feel appropriate (for many reasons) for their viewership. Additionally, there were a good number of independent stations which would offer their own selection. Add to that the fact that early morning, early afternoon, 4pm-8pm, and late-night was "open" for even network stations.
       The era of syndication was here. The chance for individuals to create their own shows and shop them around was driving a lot of producers to find funding and making their own dramas.
       Passport to Danger was one of those shows.

       This made it difficult to gain brand loyalty. Folks in one city in a state might be taking to a syndicated show but those in a city a hundred miles away would have no idea it existed. Also the way syndication worked, a station might opt for 24 episodes, for example, which they could run over and over but not get the full package. And so on.
       The still new landscape of television was exciting but also chaotic and many shows, like Passport to Danger came and went quickly.

       One other aspect to syndication is there was no set times for any of the episodes to be shown. It was up to the individual station to pick the time and frequency. As a result, the dates for "first-aired" shown with each episode has what we called in the intelligence world years ago "wag-value", meaning "wild-ass guess". I could be, and likely am, totally wrong on each and every one of these. Especially since I chose to go with December 31st for each year I think the episode first came out. DO NOT USE MY DATES AS ANYTHING OTHER THAN A GUESS!!!
       With regards to that disclaimer, it is good to know that these episodes had virtually no continuity written into them. By that I mean that the particular order of viewing meant nothing. Each is totally stand-alone so which came first is of no importance.
1 Passport to Danger: BUDAPEST
Episode 1-01, first aired 12/31/1954
Director: Roy Kellino
Writer: Robert C. Dennis

Steve McQuinn finds himself held in a Hungarian prison where he meets a priest who passes valuable anti-communist intel.

2 Passport to Danger: GENEVA
Episode 1-02, first aired 12/31/1954
Director: Sobey Martin
Writer: Gene Wang

The grandson of a Hungarian patriot approaches Steve McQuinn with a request for asylum.

3 Passport to Danger: CASABLANCA
Episode 1-03, first aired 12/31/1954
Director: Sobey Martin
Writer: Mindret Lord

In Casablanca Steve McQuinn has to go up against revolutionaries as they stage an uprising in the region.

4 Passport to Danger: MEXICO CITY
Episode 1-04, first aired 12/31/1954
Director: Sobey Martin
Writer: Donald S. Sandford

Steve McQuinn want to help a young man who is petrified before his first time in the ring as a matador.

5 Passport to Danger: MONTE CARLO
Episode 1-05, first aired 12/31/1954
Director: Sobey Martin
Writer: Robert C. Dennis

To help a friendly nation protect its oil interests in a country, Steve McQuinn agrees to help put a deposed monarch back on his throne.

6 Passport to Danger: SOFIA
Episode 1-06, first aired 12/31/1954
Director: Frederick Stephani
Writer: Robert C. Dennis

After he is arrested for theft in Bulgaria, Steve McQuinn must find a way to buy his freedom.

7 Passport to Danger: TANGIER
Episode 1-07, first aired 12/31/1954
Director: Erle C. Kenton
Writers: Robert C. Dennis , Donald S. Sanford

Steve McQuinn has a run-in with a beautiful foreign spy as he tries to help a refugee.

8 Passport to Danger: MADRID
Episode 1-08, first aired 12/31/1954
Director: -
Writer: -

Shortly after Steve McQuinn fell deeply for a beautiful duchess, she is kidnapped by very nasty people.

9 Passport to Danger: TRIESTE
Episode 1-09, first aired 12/31/1954
Director: -
Writer: -

Steve McQuinn finds himself in possess of a coded book and a number of enemy spies who want it back.

10 Passport to Danger: SAIGON
Episode 1-10, first aired 12/31/1954
Director: -
Writer: -

To reach his destination in Saigon, Steve McQuinn must use a boat and on that vessel his dispatch case is stolen by communists.

11 Passport to Danger: PARIS
Episode 1-11, first aired 12/31/1955
Director: -
Writer: -

Steve McQuinn is in Paris as he tries to save his best friend from ruin when the man is accused of selling classified intel to France.

12 Passport to Danger: TEHERAN
Episode 1-12, first aired 12/31/1955
Director: -
Writer: -

Flying into Teheran to visit an old friend, Steve McQuinn is greeted by being shot at and learning his friend is dead.

13 Passport to Danger: RANGOON
Episode 1-13, first aired 12/31/1955
Director: -
Writer: -

Steve McQuinn steps in to help with an Indian holy man's village is being victimized by local bandits.

14 Passport to Danger: MARSEILLES
Episode 1-14, first aired 12/31/1955
Director: -
Writer: -

To learn more about underground activity in the French port city, Steve McQuinn goes undercover as a murdered man.

15 Passport to Danger: RIO DE JANEIRO
Episode 1-15, first aired 12/31/1955
Director: -
Writer: -

Steve McQuinn is not able to enjoy Carnival as he looks into a young woman's missing husband as well as stoping another girl's eloping.

16 Passport to Danger: LIMA
Episode 1-16, first aired 12/31/1955
Director: -
Writer: -

Steve McQuinn flies to Lima, Peru. A fellow passenger, a young lady sitting near him with whom he strikes up a conversation, will prove to be important as McQuinn tries to capture an American gangster operating in that city.

17 Passport to Danger: ROME
Episode 1-17, first aired 12/31/1955
Director: Erle C. Kenton
Writer: Robert C. Dennis

A beautiful Italian woman has gotten mixed up with a counterfeiting ring and Steve McQuinn helps get her out.

18 Passport to Danger: HAVANA
Episode 1-18, first aired 12/31/1955
Director: -
Writer: -

Steve McQuinn learns that an otherwise honest pilot friend is smuggling people into Havana.

19 Passport to Danger: ANKARA
Episode 1-19, first aired 12/31/1955
Director: Sobey Martin
Writer: Donald S. Sanford

A Rumanian industrialist and his children are in danger from enemy agents. Steve McQuinn decides to help.

20 Passport to Danger: ATHENS
Episode 1-20, first aired 12/31/1955
Director: Sobey Martin
Writer: Robert C. Dennis

A lovely lady that Steve McQuinn meets in a cafe in Athens turns out to be deeply involved in an international drug smuggling plot.

21 Passport to Danger: BAJA
Episode 1-21, first aired 12/31/1955
Director: -
Writer: -

A hurricane forces the plane that Steve McQuinn is a passenger in to crash in Baja. The first person to reach the wreckage is a criminal on the run and in dire straits himself.

22 Passport to Danger: NAPLES
Episode 1-22, first aired 12/31/1955
Director: Erle C. Kenton
Writer: Frank L. Moss

Steve McQuinn is trying to revive an old friendship in Naples but smugglers seem to constantly be in the way.

23 Passport to Danger: DAMASCUS
Episode 1-23, first aired 12/31/1955
Director: -
Writer: -

Steve McQuinn is ordered to provide protection from assassination to an Arabian sultan enroute to Damascus.

24 Passport to Danger: ZAMBOANGA
Episode 1-24, first aired 12/31/1955
Director: -
Writer: -

Steve McQuinn is asked to investigate an American chorus girl who is about to marry the Prince of Borneo.

25 Passport to Danger: CALCUTTA
Episode 1-25, first aired 12/31/1955
Director: -
Writer: -

A plague-ridden hawk is important to a doctor in Calcutta but as soon as Steve McQuinn arrives there couriering it, someone steals it.

26 Passport to Danger: MACAO
Episode 1-26, first aired 12/31/1955
Director: Sobey Martin
Writer: Donald S. Sanford

His mission to Hong Kong over, Steve McQuinn stops at Macao to see an old friend, now a dissolute, hard-drinking expatriate mixed up in international smuggling. When his friend is murdered, McQuinn goes on the hunt.

27 Passport to Danger: LONDON
Episode 1-27, first aired 12/31/1955
Director: -
Writer: -

A woman who lost her husband in the war after he was betrayed approaches Steve McQuinn with the info that she has spotted the German betrayer working as a nurse in a hospital in London. Looking into the matter, McQuinn will uncover a spy ring.

28 Passport to Danger: HELSINKI
Episode 1-28, first aired 12/31/1955
Director: -
Writer: -

Steve McQuinn is not happy to be thrown into the middle of a political feud in Finland but it gets even messier with he learns there is a Romeo-and-Juliet situation with a couple he introduced.

29 Passport to Danger: BELGRADE
Episode 1-29, first aired 12/31/1955
Director: -
Writer: -

On an express train heading to Belgrade, Yugoslavia, Steve McQuinn meets a dying man who tells him about an assassination plot.

30 Passport to Danger: DUBLIN
Episode 1-30, first aired 12/31/1955
Director: -
Writer: -

Someone slips a small black bag into Steve McQuinn's belongings as he arrives in Dublin and that lands him in a plot by Irish patriots.

31 Passport to Danger: VIENNA
Episode 1-31, first aired 12/31/1956
Director: -
Writer: -

Steve McQuinn has no idea what he is stepping into when he agrees to look up a Senator's daughter attending ballet school in Vienna. She has gotten involved in some interesting intrigue.

32 Passport to Danger: EDINBURGH
Episode 1-32, first aired 12/31/1956
Director: -
Writer: -

An old identity card of Steve McQuinn will get him involved in a murder and a search for buried treasure in Edinburgh.

33 Passport to Danger: ANTIGUA
Episode 1-33, first aired 12/31/1956
Director: -
Writer: -

A coffee speculator has a plot to keep the price of coffee artificially high.

34 Passport to Danger: PRAGUE
Episode 1-34, first aired 12/31/1956
Director: Sobey Martin
Writer: Robert C. Dennis

McQuinn aids a figure skating star defecting from her homeland in Prague.

35 Passport to Danger: NEW YORK
Episode 1-35, first aired 12/31/1956
Director: -
Writer: -

A dance school might be the front for a cell of spies in the Big Apple. Steve McQuinn gets interested.

36 Passport to Danger: BATAVIA
Episode 1-36, first aired 12/31/1956
Director: -
Writer: -

Steve McQuinn is in the capital of Malaysia, Batavia, now called Jakarta, when he agrees to help a woman locate her missing boy friend.

37 Passport to Danger: JOHANNESBURG
Episode 1-37, first aired 12/31/1956
Director: -
Writer: -

Steve McQuinn decides to help a prospector who has uncovered a huge diamond, putting both their lives in danger.

38 Passport to Danger: BRISBANE
Episode 1-38, first aired 12/31/1956
Director: -
Writer: -

When Steve McQuinn notices a beautiful blonde leave an envelope at a bar in Brisbane, Australia, he decides to return it to her, curious about it since it holds classified documents.

39 Passport to Danger: TEL AVIV
Episode 1-39, first aired 12/31/1956
Director: -
Writer: -

A young boy has flown into Israel but disappears from the airport before his mother can pick him up. She appeals to Steve McQuinn for help.

MY COMMENTS

       I was a very little boy (2-4) on a farm in South Dakota when this television series came out and in my neck of the woods, the two stations that were able to be received likely would not have carried this show. It would not have mattered if they did because we didn't get a television until a year after it went off the air. Also I do not think my father would have been the least bit interested so the one very small console we did eventually get would have been turned to Ed Sullivan or Milton Berle or Red Skelton, or watching westerns.
       So growing up I had no idea this series had ever existed. Cesar Romero, the star of the show, would become known to me first as, obviously for a teenage boy, playing the Joker in the campy Batman that I should not have enjoyed anywhere near as much as I did. Then he was the ultra-cool boyfriend of the mother of Danny Ocean (Frank Sinatra) in the first Ocean's Eleven. After that, a younger Romero would show up in the odd late night movie I might chance upon or an older Romero would guest star on a modern television show.
       It was only when I wanted to know more about the series for this entry that I started to scour the Internet. What I found showed me I had missed a very entertaining, not quite light-hearted but also not quite dark-and-gloomy spy series. Having now seen several, I would like to see more.

GRADE

My Grade: B

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