What’s the most shocking news of the year? Twin Peaks‘ comeback? X-files‘ possible reboot? No. The ultimate mystery in the 2015 television landscape is that J. and I are watching a Spanish series.
Let’s face it, most of the current Spanish TV shows are just bad copies of international products: Velvet is a lame version of Mad Men, Gran Hotel was Downton Abbey without money or talent, Bajo Sospecha tries to emulate a nordic thriller, Victor Ros was Sherlock without the Cumberbatch(es), Cuéntame un Cuento was a pretentious mix between Black Mirror and Once Upon a Time, and Isabel was… you don’t even need to know.
After the end of the infamous Isabel, TVE, Spain’s public network, started to promote what looked like a Spanish Doctor Who: a group of people travel through time and space to maintain the history exactly as we know it. Surprisingly, the trailer didn’t look quite bad, the costumes were great and the protagonists didn’t try to act like if they were in a theatre (a huge problem in Spanish television). And then the first episode was aired.
I was in a hate-watching mood at the beginning of the episode, but… it wasn’t that bad! I had a struggle with myself but finallly I had to accept that… I like it. It’s true that the dialogues were poor and the jokes were too politically correct, but there was something more important: personality. El Ministerio del Tiempo (literally “the ministry of time”) is not a copy of Doctor Who, it’s our own sci-fi TV show.
Apart from the dialogues (which are improving in every episode), the main characters are something more than an excuse: they have motivations, their own fears, families, etc. and even I’m starting to empathize with the main girl: a feminist and academic woman from Barcelona in the XIX century.
The second and third episodes had serious problems with the narrative rhythm: they were slow, predictable and didn’t add relevant anything to the mythology of the TV shows: plain filler episodes. However, this week’s instance was something different: we learned about the origins of the ministry, enjoyed a Groundhog day structure and even witnessed a temporal paradox. Like the second episode of Penny Dreadful, these were the 60 minutes finally sold me the show.
One aspect that El Ministerio del Tiempo shares with the British TV show is a historical and didactic spirit: we meet relevant artists such as Velazquez and Lope de Vega, important historical figures that most of the Spanish people don’t know like El Empecinado, and many others.
Like I’ve said before El Ministerio del Tiempo has many problems but if you like TV shows, sci-fi fiction and you live in Spain, you have no excuse. You don’t even need to look for subtitles!
The Homecoming Queen