K-drama ● Review: Glitch
English Title: Glitch
Korean Title: 글리치
Director(s): Roh Deok
Screenwriter(s): Jin Han-sae
Studio: Studio 329 Released: 2022
Runtime: 10 episodes, ~50m each. (min. 42m – max. 1h 6m)
Starring: Jeon Yeo-been, Nana, Tae Won-seok, Lee Min-goo, Park Won-seok, Baek Joo-hee, Ryu Kyung-soo, Choi Soo-im
My Verdict: Paranormal mystery-comedy. Decent writing and production. Mostly a refreshing, amusing and satisfying series.
● Hong Ji-hyo (Jeon Yeo-been) is a 30-year-old woman with a stable job and a long-term boyfriend. Occasionally, she sees an alien in the form of a “little grey man” wearing a batter’s helmet and her proximity interferes with electronic devices. One night, after breaking up with her boyfriend Lee Si-guk, he disappears. Ji-hyo is nonetheless concerned and, since the police are unhelpful and she suspects an alien connection, searches for him by contacting one of those UFO forums.
● Ji-hyo as a young teenager was very interested in UFOs and had an encounter the nature of which is deliberately not explained initially. A member of the UFO club happens to be Heo Bo-ra (Nana), her friend from those days but the two haven’t seen each other since.
● Obviously, one of the themes is loneliness or at least living like a misunderstood alienated loner. Ji-hyo, and others too, suffer that to varying degrees and part of the story is the development of their relationships with others.
● Despite Ji-hyo’s suspicions regarding Si-guk’s disappearance, she is to some degree in denial about the possible connection to aliens so she is somewhat indecisive about the investigation. This is because she is in denial about her own possible connection which obviously frustrates Bo-ra and in turn the audience, but this is part of Ji-hyo’s character arc as well as the comedy.
● The series can be described as a comedy as well as a paranormal mystery but it is not one that constantly produces laugh-out-loud moments. It is not trying to be but it is still satisfying because it is consistently amusing. It is a little offbeat at times and there are still a few good chuckles in there.
● As Ji-hyo, Bo-ra and the UFO club investigates, there is a connection to the cult called Divine Light Church that preaches “ascension” which they try to infiltrate. This cult is well-utilized in terms of storytelling as well as the suspense and comedy. Of course, there is the question of to what extent this UFO phenomenon is real and the ambiguity is mostly handled well.
● Bora and her friends in the UFO club are, not surprisingly, somewhat eccentric but they mostly follow a template. For example, Gab Dae-hwi (Tae Won-seok) is the “quiet big guy” who is mostly gentle and passive, and Phillip (Park Won-seok) is the overly cautious type who is reluctant to take risks. Bo-ra, of course, is highly enthusiastic and has a rebellious nature. These clashes in personality are part of the drama and comedy.
● The main weakness of the series is that apart from Phillip, the team is generally too enthusiastic and impulsive. It is meant to be part of the comedy but at times is unrealistic and mildly annoying. It is difficult to imagine people not planning their activities at all when there are obvious potential dangers. Still, the performances are solid by the entire cast.
● The series is nicely shot. The lighting of the darker scenes is managed well without being pretentious. It is not uncommon for K-dramas to make use of saturated colors in their costume and set design and photography, but Glitch mostly does not do that. I think it could without the risk of being overly stylized.
● On balance, this is an entertaining series with good production. The pacing is good, maybe a little slow initially, but the structure is mostly tight. There are a few points that are not sufficiently addressed at its conclusion but it is not a dissatisfying ending. As a matter of personal taste, darker humor might be fitting. In any case, given the market saturation in recent years of zombies, supernatural-fantasy and YA dystopia, the UFO/paranormal is a refreshing change, particularly for those who are old enough to remember The X-Files.
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