It took me a long time to finish Argon. The reason for the dawdling had nothing to do with the caliber of the acting or the writing or the production, or being too busy to find the time. I just found it so difficult to see Kim Joo-hyuk onscreen, so vital, so intelligent, human, and real and know that this was the last time I’d get to see him at work in something new and challenging. At times it was distracting me from the story, so I needed to take it slowly.
This is a shorter piece, only 8 episodes long, but that works in its favor. A longer show full of back-stabbing and corrupt politicos and business-types, and the news organizations who bend over and take it from them would be almost as depressing as thinking about a favorite actor’s final work. But there could have been a little more work put into the individual storylines; it’s almost as if this was a Season 1 for the show, with a Season 2 (or more) planned where we’d learn more about how Cheon Woo-hi’s scab-turned-legit-hire reporter grows into a force to be reckoned with under the mentorship of sage Kim Joo-hyuk. I’d watch that show, and wish that I could.
This might not make my favorite’s of the year top honors, but it’s worth watching a team of veteran, talented actors put their heart and soul into telling us that doing the right thing is difficult, but not impossible (some of the time).
I have to say, this drama is never going to be easy to watch; I don’t think I’ll ever be reconciled to Kim Joo-hyuk’s untimely death last year and watching him so full of vitality, a fit and elegant 45, so vibrant and intelligent onscreen is a constant reminder of how fickle life is, and it stings.
I got sucked in right away and watched the first 2 episodes (of course, with tvN’s signature irregular episode lengths) and was about to let the 3rd auto play when I looked at the clock and reminded myself that this is only 8 episodes long.
The role of a newsman with integrity and on-camera gravitas for his specialty news program is one that fit Kim Joo-hyuk like a glove. So too does that of the frustrated widower who’s unsure what to make of his unhappy and grieving 15-year-old daughter. His acting is seamless, effortless. I’d watch his broadcasts every show because I know they’d be that good. But he’s working for a network that seems to be more interested in sponsorship and deals than journalistic integrity, and it’s going to be a tough fight. Lee Seung-joon, who normally plays best buds or weak-willed types, is his competitor/rival/semi-boss as the director of the main nightly news program and pretty darn good at raising your hackles. The company’s predeliction for not rocking their advertisers’ or majority stockholders’ respective boats makes me think too about uneasy relationships in news broadcasts here and abroad — not comfortable thoughts.
Cheon Woo-hui, who I’ve enjoyed in a number of films more than in dramas, is the newbie reporter who joined the company as a scab during a strike, so the animosity she faces from the other staffers is not hard to fathom, nor is her inclination to keep her head down and mouth shut, working solo trying to find something/anything that will give her a leg up and earn her the respect of her new boss, Kim Joo-hyuk’s character. There are times I wish she’d be more forthcoming but I can understand her reticence — it’s both cultural and a byproduct of those working circumstances.
The lobbying for stories and visibility are — so far — fairly typical, but interesting. I’m interested to see what happens next, and I am enjoying the stories of the supporting cast as well, but I’ve got to pace myself. I’m going to try and savor Kim Joo-hyuk’s last performance.