Once a successful corporate lawyer at a prestigious Philadelphia law firm, Jack Shannon lost his marriage and his job, due in part to a compulsive gambling habit. While Shannon maintains a ... See full summary »
Once a successful corporate lawyer at a prestigious Philadelphia law firm, Jack Shannon lost his marriage and his job, due in part to a compulsive gambling habit. While Shannon maintains a good relationship with his daughter, his professional career has hit rock bottom. He becomes a general practioner of law, gaining a loyal secretary in Lucy Acosta when he manages to free her boyfriend from jail. Shannon also gains an unlikely investigator in Wilmer Slade, a verbose enforcer for one of the many loan sharks to whom Jack is in debt. Although he has sworn off gambling, Shannon continues to use his skill as a cardplayer to help him work out his cases, and he always tries to work out deals for his clients without having to go to court. Written by
Writer-director John Sayles wrote the teleplay for the pilot movie and directed one of the episodes. He also has a cameo role in the episode "Words to Music" as a jealous boyfriend who gets into a confrontation with Jack Shannon. See more »
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My favorite shows of the late 80's and early 90's were "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd" and "Shannon's Deal".
Independent film director John Sayles ("Lone Star", "Sunshine State") created this superb series, which kind of crosses "Perry Mason" with "The Verdict".
Shannon is a former big time litigator who lost his job and his family due to a gambling addiction. But his teenage daughter still loves him, and is often around. Shannon now has his own low rent law firm where he handles small time clients. Shannon has trouble paying his secretary, who works part time as a waitress. (Shannon is also half in love with his amazing secretary.) Shannon gets around Philadelphia on a bicycle.
Shannon's goal as a lawyer is to keep his clients out of court. I don't think we ever see Shannon in a trial. (The New York Times TV critic, who loved this show, thought Shannon was a private detective.)
Beautiful Elizabeth Pena ("Lone Star") played Shannon's Della Streeet, who may be even smarter than Shannon. A loan shark's debt collector, who is into self-improvement via watching PBS, is Shannon's Paul Drake. Shannon helps the son of his friend on the force prepare for the law school entrance exams (until he learns the boy wants to be a cop like his father.) Miguel Ferrer plays a DA in some episodes. As far as I remember, we never see Shannon's ex-wife, who could have been an interesting character (Blythe Danner?).
David Strathairn, who went to Williams with Sayles and is a member of his film repertory company, could have been a great Jack Shannon. But they came up with Jamey Sheridan, who was perfect. Sheridan really grew on you episode by episode. A great series lead. I still seek out Sheridan's work.
I really think this show could have been a success if NBC had been more creative and persistent. Characters this appealing don't come along often. Maybe Jack and Lucy (Pena) should have moved out west and become regulars on "LA Law". They could have livened that show up. Arnie would have loved Lucy. As it is, "Shannon's Deal" is a candidate for "TV Too Good For TV".
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