SIGNAL is a sci-fi crime thriller series on Netflix. The genre hybrid series is from South Korea and has a lot of potential – but also some issues. The concept features people communicating across time which is not unlike the one from Frequency. Read more in our Signal review here!
Signal is a sci-fi crime thriller series on Netflix – not to be confused with several movies of the same title. It sure would make things a lot easier if producers would be more innovative with their titles.
In any case, this series is from South Korea and works really well as a genre hybrid. It does have a somewhat comfusion plot where a lot happens and yet we’re not getting anywhere fast. Still, Signal has potential for greatness, but it needs to tighten up on a few elements to be truly good.
The plot of having people communicate across time (this time with an old walkie talkie) is not unlike the one from the movie Frequency (2000). It was also recently made into a TV series in the US as well.
Read why the South Korean series is worth checking out on Netflix in our full Signal review below.
Working on a tight deadline
The main plot at the beginning of episode 1 of Signal, is the fact that an old kidnapping case is about to be shut down for good. The statue of limitation is coming up in just a few days, which is baffling to me. Especially since the kidnapping resulted in the victim being found dead, so really, we’re dealing with a murder.
However, I have actually seen other movies from South Korea where this is clearly an issue. I mean, basically, you can commit just about any crime and just avoid getting caught for long enough and you’ll be scot-free. Sure, the same thing happens in the US where the Golden State Killer wasn’t caught until after the statue of limitations for a lot of rapes had run out.
In any case, having this tight deadline does work really well for the plot in Signal. Unfortunately, it’s not as intense as it could have been since we’re still moving back and forth between different time periods. Episode 1 of Signal wants to tell us so much that we end up knowing not a lot. However, we do get a very nice ending to the very first episode of Signal.
The cast of Signal
For the most part, the cast of Signal is full of actors I’m not familiar with despite having seen a lot of productions from South Korea. However, there is a very noticable exception with Cho Jin-woong who portrays the police detective Lee Jae-han. He’s the one working the “old” end of the case and talking to a young cop in the present via a walkie-talkie.
Cho Jin-woong has been in quite a lot of big South Korean movies including Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden (2016) and Hwayi: A Monster Boy (2013). More recently, he also starred in the psychological serial killer thriller Bluebeard which we highly recommend.
During episode 1 of the Signal series, Cho Jin-woong really isn’t a big part of the story. Or actually, he is a huge part of it, but has very limited screentime. We will be seeing more of him though, so you can look forward to that.
The two main characters are portrayed by Lee Je-hoon and Kim Hye-soo. Both work really well but I am especially happy with Kim Hye-soo. She plays a no-nonsense female police detective surrounded by male colleagues who clearly respect her. However, I must admit that by the end of episode 1, Lee Je-hoon was also working really well for me.
His character is just a big know-it-all and draws conclusions that seem really weird. Then again, that’s not the actor’s fault but rather the screenwriter.
Watch season 1 of Signal on Netflix now!
The South Korean series Signal (org. title Sigeuneol) originally aired on TV in South Korea back in 2016. Just like the other sci-fi thriller series released on Netflix the same day, season 1 has 16 episodes and each is at least around an hour long.
Personally, I absolutely prefer the other South Korean sci-fi thriller series called Tunnel. You can check out our review of Tunnel here >
However, both these new series have very high rating on IMDb so it’s probably a simple preference. I just found Tunnel to be more straight-forward and character focused with a much stronger plot. To me, Signal has a more melodramatic approach which did come across as a bit soapy at times. Also, the opening credits for Signal are so cheesy they feel like a spoof to me.
Season 1 of SIGNAL is out on Netflix in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and many other countries from October 1, 2019.
Director: Won Suk Kim
Stars: Lee Jehoon, Hye-su Kim, Jin-woong Cho
Communicating via a walkie-talkie that transcends time, a profiler from 2015 and a detective from 1989 join forces to tackle crimes and injustice.