This article contains spoilers. 1.5/5 stars South Korea’s problem with dodgy time-travel dramas – remember Sisyphus: The Myth ? – churns on unabated with the Disney+ series Grid , which wrapped up its 10-episode run on April 21. The show got off to a reasonably good start with a high concept to go along with its slick production values, sketching a dystopian alternate universe in which a Korean government agency has installed a system called the Grid that shields the world from gigantic solar flares pulsating off the sun’s surface and heading straight for Earth. World-building done, Grid hopped to the present and nestled us into a good old homicide investigation. Kim Sae-ha (Seo Kang-joon), a young worker at the Administration Bureau that runs the Grid, happens upon a murder and proceeds to help the detectives who investigate it, which include Jung Sae-byeok (Kim Ah-joong). The search for the killer (Kim Sung-kyun) soon merges with the appearance of the mysterious Ghost (Lee Si-young), a time-travelling and teleporting figure who was elemental in the Grid’s successful launch two decades earlier. Soundtrack #1: Han So-hee, Park Hyung-sik romance a letdown Following the succinct set-up, the show becomes mired in a lugubrious procedural story, as the police and government agents try to track down the murderer and/or Ghost. The rather tedious investigation involves no clever sleuthing, a smattering of confusing revelations parading as mystery, and not nearly enough action or tension. This is a big surprise as Grid ’s writer is Lee Soo-yeon, responsible for the tightly plotted and highly praised investigative thriller Stranger (that show also featured some light sci-fi elements, and was clearly an influence on Sisyphus: The Myth , both sharing lead Cho Seung-woo, among other things). The show then goes for broke in its last four episodes, breaking out all the hokey sci-fi tricks in the book, without backing any of it up with narrative, physical or scientific logic. Eight years ago, viewers in Korea were dazzled by Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi opus Interstellar , which captivated the country and its hungry creators with its mix of awe and family melodrama. Grid is not a space drama but it does aspire to be an emotional time-travel story. Since humanity has yet to invent time travel, storytellers have some leeway when presenting it on screen. But though realism can scarcely be expected, narrative logic still applies, and this is where most Korean time-travel stories fail. What Korea has excelled at are timeslip narratives, in which characters exist at different points on the same timeline and can magically communicate with one another. Guided by far more forgiving fantasy principles and simpler logic, timeslip stories chronicle unbridgeable separations, which makes them ideally suited for tragic romance. Grid suffers from a desire to create a more novel and exciting type of story, but there has been little attempt to iron out the issues that inevitably arise when employing elements such as time travel and teleportation. That may seem like harsh criticism, particularly when Marvel routinely scores with audiences and critics with similar elements. But those films and shows have found a happy middle ground between hard sci-fi concepts and superhero high jinks, largely thanks to polished scripts that adhere to the logic of their worlds and sometimes reconcile inconsistencies through sheer personality. 8 new Korean drama series to look out for in April 2022 The trouble with poorly thought-out sci-fi is that it takes you out of the story and makes you lose interest in the characters and their plights. In episode seven of Grid , Sae-ha gets his hands on Ghost’s futuristic time travel/teleportation handheld device, and proceeds to jump back to the past and immediately mess up the timelines. Suddenly anything is possible and dead characters start coming back to life – again, again and again. By the time Sae-ha dies in Sae-byeok’s arms in the finale, what should have been an emotional moment is one that is both laughable and dull. By this point Sae-ha has already died several times and any tension the show had has long since evaporated. There are no stakes. Beyond its woefully half-baked time-travel shenanigans, Grid also suffers from chronic insularity. The premise presents an entire planet afflicted by solar flares and spans past, present and future, in alternate timelines where millions live or die, but the main characters are all eventually revealed to be closely related to one another. Bureau worker Song Eo-jin (Kim Moo-yeol) is actually Sae-byeok’s ex-husband, and Ghost turns out to be her daughter. Rather than exciting surprises, each time a connection like this is revealed, Grid ’s narrative world shrinks, even as it continually tries to widen it through misbegotten sci-fi frills. With new characters introduced at the eleventh hour, a good chunk of the final episode is devoted to setting up a second season. But they’d be better off hopping back in time with their little gadget and writing themselves out of existence. Grid is streaming on Disney+.