El Ministerio del Tiempo (The Ministry of Time) is a Spanish television series about time travel. El Ministerio del Tiempo is one of the top secrets of the Spanish government, and its existence is known only to a handful of people. The main job of the Ministry is to guard the doors of time to keep opportunists from tweaking history in their favor.
El Ministerio del Tiempo hides in plain sight. Its main entrance is a wooden double-door that has graffiti all over it, monitored by a single camera. Its courtyard is empty save for a well that serves as the entry point to the offices. This reminds me of Harry Potter’s Ministry of Magic’s red telephone booth. Just like Hogwarts, magic happens in the long and winding staircases situated below the ground. The staircases end in multiple doors of time. Each door of time is numbered and has a specific place and period of destination. Every time a door is opened, members of the Ministry are transported to the past where an important figure or event takes center stage.
The focal point of El Ministerio del Tiempo is the adventures of three new unlikely recruits of the Ministry: the brainy and well-bred Amelia Folch (Aura Garrido), the brave but hotheaded Alonso de Entrerríos (Nacho Fresneda) and the observant Julián Martínez (Rodolfo Sancho). One might say that these descriptions are far from unlikely; the unlikelihood of the three of them serving the Ministry simultaneously comes from the fact that they come from different eras.
Folch is a university student from the 19th century. Although she still lives with her parents, she is the epitome of a modern woman who will not stand out like a sore thumb in 21st century unless she wears her 19th century dress. She is a voracious reader who spouts literary, historical and political trivia when the situation calls for it. What she writes on her diary is worthy of publication. Garrido always looks fresh and sometimes fierce as Folch. I want to be either of them.
Entrerríos is a religious Army of Flanders soldier from the 16th century. He is a gentleman in and out of the battlefield. Staying true to his cavalier spirit, he likes riding horses, motorbikes or anything that moves. He is a fierce and loyal lover, but he thinks that women’s place is at home, not at a university or at work. His rather archaic beliefs about men and women makes him wary of Folch as his superior and other powerful women in general.
Among the guards of doors of time, the least interesting is Martínez. He is a paramedic from present time Spain. He possesses neither Folch’s brain nor Entrerríos’ bravery, and he mopes for his dead wife like an abandoned sick puppy. Moping for a dead loved one is understandable, but he goes overboard with his melancholy.
Thankfully, Folch’s charisma rubs on to Martínez when they are together onscreen. The will-they-won’t-they card is most welcome, and I am joining the they-have-to wagon just to give much needed excitement to Martínez’s almost two-dimensional character.
For eight episodes, Folch, Entrerríos and Martínez use the doors of time and their collective wits and survival skills to stop the reversal of fortune in World War II, meet royalties in Isabella I of Castille and Isabella II of Spain, writers Lope de Vega and Federico García Lorca, and painter Salvador Dalí, among others. These events and historical figures come to life, speak with the guardians of time, flirt with them and even share their bed.
The new recruits manage to blend in in the past thanks to the great work of the costume and accessories department of the Ministry (I think they have one as an officer alluded to it). They also work closely with Ministry officers Ernesto Jiménez (Juan Gea) and Irene Larra (Cayetana Guillén Cuervo) who give them guidance and morale boost. Sometimes, the senior Ministry officers embark on their own adventure and reveal how great they are at their work.
One of the notable supporting characters is Diego Velázquez (Julián Villagrán), the painter of Las Meninas. The Ministry employs him as the facial composite maker and makes exactly one composite sketch. He is adorably annoying in his self-deprecation and being a fan boy of Pablo Picasso.
Another interesting character is Lola Mendieta (Natalia Millán). She is an ex-agent of the Ministry who has gone rogue. She shares the locations of the doors of time to advance her personal interests. In the course of her endeavors, she pops in and out of the lives of the Ministry officers, often under undesirable circumstances. Her statements and contradictory actions make her an enigma. The hope is to see more of her in the next season.
The first season of El Ministerio del Tiempo has eight 75-minute episodes. Each episode has an emergency that needs to be solved otherwise history as written on the books would prove incorrect. My knowledge of Spanish history is virtually nil, so I enjoy every adventure and I look forward to meet more personalities. I can say that it is the most entertaining Spanish history lesson I have had. The time travel aside, I know that the depiction of events and characters in the show is far from accurate, but it is one fun ride back to the past.
10 Things I learned from El Ministerio del Tiempo that may or may not true:
- Time travel to the past is possible. Time travel to the future is not.
- Bringing perishable and non-perishable items from the past is fine as long as they do not leave the doors of the Ministry.
- Lope de Vega was a playboy who recited poetry while making love.
- Lázaro de Tormes was a stand-up comedian whose routine was a little political. He did not know how to write.
- Federico García Lorca liked men, and he was in love with Salvador Dalí.
- Luis Buñuel was an attractive man who liked to run half-naked even on cold days.
- García Lorca, Dalí and Buñuel were once members of a stage play. García Lorca wrote it, Dalí painted the backdrop and Buñuel and his abs were Don Juan.
- Diego Velázquez was a huge fan of Goya. Velázquez thought that Dalí painted like God but lacked passion and soul. However, he admired him immensely and they had the same moustache.
- Pablo Picasso spent more time at Museo del Prado than in the academy. He stared at Las Meninas for hours because “es como si las figuras se movieran y todo cambiaran”.
- Picasso is left-handed. Yey!