El tiempo es el que es (Time is what it is)
Tiempo de Gloria (Time of glory)
Cómo se reescribe el tiempo (How does time get rewritten)
Una negociación a tiempo (A deal in time)
Cualquier tiempo pasado (Every past time)
Tiempo de pícaros (Time of rascals)
Tiempo de venganza (Time of revenge)
La leyenda del tiempo (Legend of time)
If there were ever any questions around the integrity of Spanish television accurately creating a compelling show around time travel, The Ministry Of Time (El Ministerio Del Tiempo) surely quells those concerns. With three interesting and surprisingly well rounded characters at the heart of the show, The Ministry Of Time manages to balance it’s episodic structure with a good dose of historical accuracy and a compelling overarching story. Although a few wooden performances from some of the supporting characters do offset some of the good work done here, it’s easy to overlook this with such a well thought out show and empathetic characters driving the narrative forward.
The soul of the show revolves around three characters from different periods in Spanish history being brought together to work for The Ministry Of Time. The three build a surprisingly strong chemistry too as the episodes progress and their distinct individuality helps to set them apart. The pilot episode begins with a fiery warrior from the 16th century about to be executed, Alonso (Nacho Fresneda), recruited alongside an intelligent, independent woman from the 19th Century, Amelia (Aura Garrido), to work for the mysterious Minstry Of Time. Rounding out the thrio is Julián (Rodolfo Sancho), an emotionally charged paramedic who’s irrational sporadity is spurred on by the death of his wife. Together, they team up to work for a secretive Spanish organisation hiding a labyrinth of doors leading to different periods through history. Their mission is simple – stop other time travellers from disrupting the natural flow of time and trying to change history. The premise is relatively straight forward and this simplicity helps to build up a solid foundation of well paced episodes.
With each episode clocking in at 70 minutes, The Ministry Of Time is quite the time sink with each episode playing out like a feature film. Whilst this sounds excessive, the run time is justified and as the episodes progress, there’s much more emphasis on the individual characters, giving some much needed back story and personality to the three core characters beyond the archetypal tropes they’re given during the pilot episode. It’s toward the end of the series too that the issues affecting each character becomes much more prevalent and this finely tuned balance allowing the stories to spill over to other episodes is perfectly executed.
Unlike the heavy handed American take on the same sort of concept, Timeless, The Ministry Of Time feels much more realistically depicted and far more grounded thanks to its emphasis on Spanish history. Ministry goes above and beyond too with an impressive array of authentic costumes from the different eras and some really nice establishing shots. The way each time period is presented really gives you a feel for the tone and mood of the era making you feel like you’ve travelled to that time period. Although many of the big scenes generally tend to fall back on dimly lit, moody sets, Ministry Of Time does have a good variety of time periods to play with and manages to mix the aesthetic up just enough to avoid stagnation.
Creating such an ambitious time travel show was always going to be difficult and although The Minstry Of Time does stumble with a couple of plot inconsistencies and lacklustre acting from some of the supporting cast, there’s enough here to ignore these for the most part and focus on the well worked stories. Of course, with 70 minutes an episode and 8 action packed plots to get through, The Ministry Of Time is a long show but the excellent trio of characters at the heart of this series helps during some of the slower segments. The Ministry Of Time is an impressive Spanish science fiction show well worth checking out, even if it does require some patience at times due to its long run time.
Verdict - 8/10