Saturday, March 31, 2018

El Ministerio del Tiempo (Season 2)

Time travel has always made for interesting stories.  You’ve had offerings like The Time Machine by H. G. Wells.  Back to the Future spawned two sequels.  Doctor Who is a cultural icon.  El Ministerio del Tiempo, or The Ministry of Time, deals with a Spanish agency that patrols history.  Not much has been said of the specific mechanics, except that time travel is achieved by walking through doors.  It’s not said how much control anyone has, but the doors are limited to Spain’s history.

The first season was only 8 episodes.  It did a very good job of setting up the mythology while giving fairly good stories.  Alonso de Entrerríos, Amelia Folch and Julián Martínez make up a team that would go back to make sure things happened like they were supposed to.  (Alonso and Amelia were both from the past with Julián being from the present.)

The second season picks up shortly after the first one ends.  As with the first season, great importance is placed on not changing history.  Several episodes deal with this directly.  In the first episode, the team has to investigate El Cid only because the DNA they have on file differs from the DNA found in his grave.  This is because a former agent killed the real El Cid and had to impersonate him so as not to erase an important figure.

The season ends with King Phillip II taking over the Ministry and declaring himself the King of Time.  This episode shows what would have happened had the Inquisition not ended.  Spain controls a good portion of the world, but the people are repressed.  It’s not a very promising alternate timeline.

Those that have seen the first season won’t find too many surprises.  The quality is similar.  The show still deals with important moments in Spanish history, like Spain having to leave The Philippines.  Not knowing much about history, some of the events were unfamiliar to me.  I knew that The Philippines were once Spanish territory, but I didn’t know the specifics about how Spain left.  There’s also another episode showing Napoleon visiting a monastery.  I’m not sure if this actually happened or was written to have a historical figure appear.

There are a few episodes that deal with crises.  One character brings the Spanish Flu to the Ministry headquarters, necessitating quarantine.  Another has the host of a paranormal-themed show gaining access to the doors of time and changing history.  (The idea is to make the Ministry office look like any other office, but that fails at the last moment.)

There is a minor cast change as Julián travels to Cuba at the end of the first episode.  During those episodes, Rodolfo Sancho was working on another project.  His character is replaced by Hugo Silva, who plays a police officer from the 1980s named Jesús Méndez Pontón. He goes by Pacino because of his supposed resemblance to Al Pacino.  (I don’t see the resemblance, either.  I think this may have been a running joke.)  Julián does come back later in the season, coinciding with Pacino’s departure.

As with the first season, episodes are about 75 minutes each.  (The second season has 13 episodes, up from season one’s 8 episodes.)  I’d recommend watching the first season before watching this one.  Many of the episodes could be watched out of order, but there are stories that continue from the first season.  Several photographs were found indicating that Julián and Amelia will marry.  While that’s not directly addressed, things do happen to further that storyline.

The show reminds me of another show called Voyagers!, which had two characters traveling through time to keep things right.  (It would be interesting to go back and watch Voyagers!, but I don’t see it on Netflix at the moment.)  I’m not certain of the status of the series after the third season.  IMDb has up to the third season.  (Wikipedia lists episodes for the first two.)  Netflix has the first three seasons, but acquired rights to show the series outside of Spain.  I may just have to watch the third season and hope I hear news by then.

IMDb page

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