Do you miss Isabel, now that it’s over? I sure as hell do. I couldn’t bear living in a world where I didn’t have new episodes to watch of this historical masterpiece, and its sequel, Carlos Emperador (‘Charles Emperor’) won’t arrive until this autumn, so I hurried to get the box set for Christmas -I actually bought two, one for me and one for my mother, and now we have an intermittent marathon together which consists of watching the episodes at siesta time or right before bedtime at night every time I go to Spain.
But do not worry anymore, because the Olivares brothers (RIP Pablo) and Cliffhanger created something to keep you entertained and amused in the meantime. And starring none other than our very own King Fernando, Rodolfo Sancho.
Let’s start from the beginning: the title. The show is called El Ministerio del Tiempo, which translates as ‘The Ministry of Time’ and it is exactly about that: the Spanish government has a secret ministry that was discovered in the time of the Catholic Monarchs (nudge nudge, wink wink) and where the travellers go through doors to other eras (only to the past) to fix things in history that for some reason have changed. Think of it as some sort of Doctor Who, but instead of a TARDIS they have doors, and instead of a charismatic Time Lord they have civil servants –although Sancho can be just as charismatic as Tennant at his Tennantiest.
The main three characters of this story, the three workers who always travel together are Julián (Rodolfo Sancho), a paramedic from 2015 devastated by the death of his wife in a car accident; Amelia (Aura Garrido), a rich university student from the end of the 19th century, and Alonso (Nacho Fresneda) a soldier of the Army of Flandes in the 16th century who gets constantly compared to Alatriste. In the Ministry we also find Irene and Ernesto, who help them out with their missions and Jaime Blanch as Salvador, the boss, who provides some of the best laughs whenever he has a conversation with one of the workers of the ministry, Diego Velázquez. Yes, one of the best painters in the history of Spain is a recurring gag in the series, and he delivers it perfectly (wait until you see his obsession with meeting Picasso).
There are five episodes broadcast so far, and we have seen the team travelling to prevent playwright Lope de Vega from dying before he was supposed to, stopping the execution of the rabbi who shared the secret of the doors with the Catholic Monarchs (yes, there were cameos and it was all very meta) or boycotting a meeting between Hitler and Franco that was going to make a ruined Spain enter World War II.
It is not Isabel, of course, but there are trips to the past in every episode and, let me tell you something, I have learned a thing or two about history. You cannot deny they are very accurate and make sure everything is correct. It’s the type of history lessons you would get from the First Doctor.
You can watch all the episodes with Spanish subtitles on their official website. I know there is a website called Drama Fever that usually puts Spanish series with English subtitles, but I have no idea if they have uploaded this one yet.