Alright, alright — all you people who have heard my love of Timeless keep telling me to watch El Ministerio del Tiempo aka The Ministry of Time, the Spanish show with the similar concept — time travel to multiple eras in history. El Ministerio predates Timeless (it premiered in 2015) and was no doubt inspiration; the basic concept is three people from different time periods (2015, 1880, and the 1560s-ish) are recruited by the secret Spanish government agency el Ministerio del Tiempo to travel through time to “fix” history.
The ministry was set up during the reign of Isabella of Castile, when a Jewish rabbi gave the queen a book showing her the many (literal) doors that exist between various time periods. I’m a little confused as to why the ministry exists — there’s at least one modern rogue agent going back in time and messing things up, and unofficial/unknown time doors that naughty people can go through and again, mess up time. The ministry is staffed by people from all time periods, but they all go home to sleep each night, which confuses me — the show emphasizes that spending one day in 2015 will mean one day has passed in “your” period, so does that mean that the door to, for example, August 1, 1980 will then be August 2, 1980 the next day? Anyway. These are things I think about.
There’s some great humor to the show. The ministry is a real ministry, with budget cuts and grumbling workers (“We should just go back to the 16th century if they’re going to keep cutting our healthcare” type bitching). The 2015 character scoffs at the idea of Spain, of all countries, having invented time travel. Velazquez works there as a sketch artist, among other things; he spends his free time (getting in trouble for) writing letters to editors complaining about the shitty restoration work being done on his paintings and studying Picasso; and while we haven’t seen it yet, there’s references to a costume department and hairdresser, which made me very happy.
Our main characters are Julián, modern EMT mourning the recent death of his wife; Amelia, Spain’s first female university student (from 1880); and Alonso, played by the hilariously named Nacho Fresneda, a soldier from the late 16th century. I already have a crush on both boys.
So now, let’s take a look at the historical costumes in the four episodes I’ve watched so far. You may know already that I have questions, many of them hair-related.
Episode 1: 1880
Long-time ministry worker Irene (blonde) goes to 1880 to recruit Amelia:
You’ll see lots more of what I’m talking about below, as Amelia sports mullet after mullet (okay, at least they PUT HER HAIR UP! Hallelujah!).
Episode 1: 1808
After our three mains get recruited, they go to 1808 to stop the (too early) killing of Juan Martín Díez, Spanish military leader against the French.
Yes, well-to-do Spanish women kept up with Western European fashions, and wore the high-waisted “Regency” or “Empire” line styles:
But I think for Amelia, they are trying to keep her looking like an average woman, so are more referencing salt-of-the-earth-type styles, like:
There’s also a definite 1780s-90s maja element to Amelia’s look, which for all I know was still around in the later 1800s, given that the less well-to-do tended not to dress in the most cutting-edge of styles. The majo (men) and maja (women) were a very typical and unique look worn by the working/lower classes, particularly in Madrid. For women, there’s a lot of jackets, and details on the sleeves. It was an over-the-top look that was very swagger-y.
On top of Amelia’s mullet:
I think they are referencing these kinds of caps worn by maja women, which sometimes appear to have been crocheted; maybe they were made in lace too, I don’t know!
Bad double agent Lola is a marquise in this episode and wears more fancy styles, but you really don’t see much of them except:
Episode 2: 1588
The Spanish Armada is getting ready to take off for England, except famous Spanish writer (don’t kill me, I’d never heard of him before!) Lope de Vega isn’t on the ship he’s supposed to be on (and thus will probably die in the ensuing debacle). The ministry keeps agents in various time periods to keep an eye on things like this, and there are special cell phones and laptops that work across time. Who knew!
Amelia gets a sleeveless, boned bodice and some layered skirts:
I’m just busy watching the mullet/updo:
Our gents are in a lot of layered black (again), and ALL the guys are in over-the-knee boots, of course.
Episode 3: 1940
It’s all military uniforms. Bad Nazis are bad! Bad Nazis having access to time travel = triply bad!
Episode 4: 1880
Although not the focal time period of this era, there’s a bit where Julián and Amelia have dinner with her parents in 1880. Amelia has this sleeved cape that just seems very 1940s-shoulder-pad-y to me.
Episode 4: 1491
The main focus, however, is 1491. A lawyer representing the Jewish rabbi who was burned at the stake after giving Queen Isabella of Castile the secret book of time traveling doors has shown up in 2015 and threatened to out the ministry. Our guys go back to 1491 to try to prevent said stake-burning.
Michelle Jenner of the Spanish TV show Isabel, which I tried to watch and couldn’t handle the shitshow that were the costumes (I WILL convince Trystan or Sarah to review it one of these days, there’s a bit of my snark in this behind-the-scenes post) reprises her role as Queen Isabella, complete with ye oldey timey dresses straight from Simplicity patterns and head necklaces galore (but only two hairpins):
Unfortunately our cast members go super monk/covered up, but there’s some extras to look dubiously upon:
Like I said, I’ve already got crushes on the two main leads, so I’ll definitely be finishing out the season (only season 1 is available on Netflix — come on, gimme more!). And it’s too much fun to jump around eras, so look for reviews of later episodes soon!
Have you seen El Ministerio del Tiempo yet? What do you think about the costumes from these episodes?