The show The X-Files veered between over-sincerity and coy daftness. Season 3 episode Jose Chung’s From Outer Space, poked fun at alien abduction storylines with a series of unreliable narrators and contrasting accounts of what happened; often it isn’t the story that is as important as the person telling it.
Telling the story in Glitch – a new South Korean show where the prospect of alien abduction looms large both metaphorically and literally – is Hong Ji-hyo (Jeon Yeo-been).
What Is Glitch About?
After a mysterious childhood event where she was found unconscious in a field of reeds, Ji-hyo has been plagued with visions of aliens watching her, and repressed memories of that time come flow like tides after her boyfriend disappears without a trace.
Glitch veers direction like it is being driven by the various non-drivers that inhabit its world. What starts as an individually personal alien-soaked intrigue swerves into the strange goings on at the ‘we’re not a cult, honest’ Divine Light Church.
As lights in the sky are swapped for chants, bullets, and messiahs, our extended group of characters must cling on tight.
The first impression of Glitch is less crop circle, more half circle. Ji-hyo spends her introductory episode languishing in listless lethargy.
She sleepwalks through the affections of her long-term boyfriend, Lee Si-kook, and tries to hide away from the visions of baseball hat wearing aliens that appear to watch her wherever she goes.
Once Si-kook vanishes in a puff of lights and strange insect behaviour, Ji-hyo spends the rest of the show desperately trying to find him but sadly, her initial monotone performance has already failed to endear you to her character.
In the absence of including any actual positive feelings towards Si-kook, Glitch devalues its own central journey straight off the baseball bat-wielding alien.
If you can get past the weak opening though, Glitch rewards you with much better people to travel with. Upon reaching out for help, Ji-hyo slowly reconnects with childhood friend Heo Bo-ra (Nana), Bo-ra is the life and soul of the show, filled with attitude, bile, and sparkling dialogue.
Glitch Official Trailer
Is Glitch Worth Watching?
As a UFO obsessed YouTuber, Bo-ra’s journey from cocky belligerence to fear is highly compelling, as she and her fellow obsessee’s strip away more layers of conspiracy at the Divine Light Church.
In fact, the opening episode is so disconnected with those that follow that it virtually screams ‘pilot’.
Once the alien visions are unceremoniously dropped and Ji-hyo, Bo-ra, and a fun collection of friends (workout-obsessed ‘The Captain’ a particular highlight) indulge in peeling away layer upon layer of plot then Glitch keeps you wanting to come back for more.
Glitch suffers from a void in the central role. Despite Yeo-been switching up her monotone for screeching frenzy in the back half of the show, she never feels more than a cog designed to click all the other gears into place.
Various sub-plots around her family, work colleagues, or bemused police officer assigned to her boyfriend’s case all wither away as her core personality just fails to feed them any interest.
Having a central character’s journey to anchor the audience to a show is vital. Even if events are lacklustre it is good characterisation that keeps you engaged, as you want to see how they handle challenges. In that respect Glitch succeeds in pushing forward as a collective effort.
Nana’s performance exudes enough personality to make up for two, thankfully. In another land of aliens she’d be the one making the pushbike fly across the moon; once you’ve launched off Glitch’s upcoming cliff edge then it is fun to sit in the basket up front with a nice comforting towel around you.
Words by Mike Record