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Review: Spanish Drama ‘The Time in Between’ Will Cure Your Hankering for ‘Downton Abbey’

Review: Spanish Drama 'The Time in Between' Will Cure Your Hankering for 'Downton Abbey'

Since last October, online sales of sewing machines in the country of Spain have shot up a whopping 176 percent. But the sudden urge to sew grew not out of an urgent dressmaking necessity, but as the result of an addictive new TV show about a spying seamstress.

"El Tiempo Entre Costuras" ("The Time Between Seams"), an 11 episode adaptation of the internationally best-selling novel of the same name, broke the record for the most watched TV premiere in Spain. And now, the series is now coming to America at the perfect moment, with audiences in need of some summertime sentimentalism and a little period conspiracy, but with "Downton Abbey" still months away. And starting July 4, international TV streaming service DramaFever will debut the series (which has the adjusted title of "The Time in Between"), on their site as well as on Hulu

The drama follows the story of a young seamstress named Sira (Adriana Ugarte) who uses her sewing talents as a cover for espionage during the rise of dictator Francisco Franco, the Spanish Civil War and the beginning of World War II. Sira is intelligent, gutsy and resourceful, whose ability to construct stunning garments lands her the posh job of couturier to the Nazi wives stationed in Madrid — the perfect gig if you want to smuggle coded messages to the British inside the seams of dresses.

The series opens with a particularly striking sequence, in which Sira is having pistols strapped into her undergarment. But while an American series might be able to wrap up exactly how she got there within the confines of the pilot, "The Time in Between" doesn’t rush its story. Instead, the first two episodes made available for review are devoted entirely to Sira’s young adult life and her search for love.

The series has a particularly lovely "Downton Abbey" flair, with gorgeous period costumes, grandiose set pieces, sweeping instrumental interludes and rebellious women who act in a manner contrary to what’s expected of them in the early 20th century. Sira was raised in Madrid by a single mother who taught her practically everything about needlework and clothes-making. As a young woman, Sira gets engaged to a man named Ignacio (Raúl Arévalo) whose promising government job offers plenty of stability, though it’s obvious that Sira loves him no more than her own drab clothing. The first time they meet, Sira would rather run home to clean a stain out of her dress than stick around for conversation. 

Enter Ramiro (Rubén Cortoda), whose literal entrance in the first episode is accompanied by an overstated score and awkward eye contact so obvious that the English subtitles might as well have read, "Here is the real love interest!" right on the screen. Sira immediately falls for Ramiro and their affair packs in a heap of melodrama — a telenovela this is not, but that doesn’t mean the show lacks any instance of schmaltz. Where "Downton" would remain at a safe, British distance, staying with mid-shots on its characters even during emotionally walloping scenes, "The Time in Between" goes in close, though not always for the best.  There is one particularly ridiculous moment when Ramiro wipes hot chocolate off of Sira’s mouth — the camera lingering over her lip until he has wiped away every last drop. 

When they run off together to Morocco in episode two, their escapades with sex, drugs and all things Moorish are fun to watch, but it’s easy to guess what tragedy this is all heading towards. There’s nothing more untrustworthy than a gorgeous man with piercing blue eyes asking, "Do you trust me?" as he whisks you away to a foreign country. But without the peril, we won’t get to see the inevitable outcome of how Sira grows from a love-sick girl to a determined woman smuggling guns across international borders. 
Much of the show’s voice-over narration is unnecessary — we don’t need to hear that little Sira (Angela Romanillos) is wowed by the elegance of the homes of her mother’s wealthy clients, we see it in her eyes as she enters their neighborhoods and front doors. 

Adriana Ugarte is absolutely engaging as Sira. Her performance captures a bit more subtlety than her co-stars, and her ability to simultaneously play naive and determined makes up for the occasional cheesy dialogue. 

So despite its occasional dip into nighttime-soap territory, it’s easy to see why the Spanish have gotten so hooked. Like "Downton Abbey," or the novel on which the series is based, "The Time in Between" manages to lure you into needy territory; you end up desperate to find out what happens next. And by focusing on a particularly fraught period in Spanish history, the show is able to combine eye-catching visuals with a compelling heroine and absorbing story. Though the first two episodes linger in Sira’s emotional journey, the series will no doubt get more thrilling as the threat of war grows into reality and the intrigue kicks in. 

"The Time in Between" premieres on DramaFever and Hulu July 4. 

Grade: A-

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Loved every minute of this series. I’m so disappointed that it only had one season. There was so much they could have done.

Norma Peterson

So glad to see my favorite novel made into a perfect movie series. Series stayed true to the novel and casting could not have been more spot on. Absolutely beautiful, filled with intrigue, mystery, romance, and history. Loved it!!


Loved "The Time In Between." This series kept me on the edge of my seat. I want more Sira.


This was amazing!
In a world of trashy TV. This was an oasis.


What brilliant shows Velvet, Grand Hotel and A time in Between! They are superb, the writing, actors and fashion are just perfect! Give them a chance and you will not regret it!


My husband and I watched this on Netflix…..great series and we both wish there were more seasons to enjoy!


Loved this series!! Are they making a second season?? Fantastic story: intrigue, adventure, romance, strong female lead. Wonderful!


Beautifully engaging. I binge watched the entire season on Netflix and may do it all over again. The scenery, fashion of the days, watching the world change in front of our eyes. Fabulous.


I am currently enjoying it. Will there be a season 2?


lovely clothing was out of this world. is a wonderful/beau

William Punch

I have just finished watching the Netflix version of "The Time In Between". Everything about this movie is done, the acting may be a bit melodramatic, but it needs to be added that the sumptuous homes and vistas will undoubtedly do a great deal for Morocco, Spain and Portugal’s tourist image. I don’t think a comparison with Downton Abbey is a good one, because this has action and heroism worthy of a Le Carre book or movie. I will be watching for more movies starring Adriana Ugarte, she was extraordinarily beautiful and a great actress.


    Palm Trees in the Snow is a good movie to start with.


How many seasons and episodes are there I just finished season 1 on Netflix I love this show.


Loved this! I don’t know why there were so many references to Dowtown Abby. Other than there are people in it. This stands on its own. LOVED IT!

Marilyn McClure

Just watched all 17 of the episodes….please tell me there will be more. The characters are priceless and the intrigue keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Paul Vautier

A beautiful portrait comes to life. Exquisite sets. Music and cinematography. Breathtaking


Btw, great series. Luv the era. Am addicted to this show, I can’t stop watching it on netflix


U mean piercing green eyes. He actually had like a bright light lime olivish green eyes. Really nice eyes


Just finished the series and absolutely am in love with it. Netflix got me hooked on Spanish shows including El Internado, Gran Hotel and Velvet. Now I am trying another Spanish series even though I am American and cannot speak Spanish. The subtitles don’t bother me at all. I also loved the actor Peter Vives who is also in Velvet. Great program not to be missed.


I have read the novel, given it to two different love interests, (who loved it), and I am now watching the tv series for the second time with a new love interest.

This series is interesting for me because i am a history buff and this particular time, (Spanish Civil War, pre WWII Europe), is very interesting to me.

Women love the story, the love affairs and most important, the beautiful clothes from that era.

Constantine Santas

Great show, quick-paced, beautifully photographed, with a great young actress in the middle of the Spanish Civil war is headed for more danger, using her wiles to spy on the Germans. Adriana Ugarte is superb!


I am so hooked. This is about a place I have never seen historically portrayed, now I want to know all I can about the Spanish Civil War and how Franco and the Nazi Party interacted. The sights and sounds are breathtaking and the beauty of the actresses and actors can hardly go unnoticed. The subtitles just seem to melt away. I don’t want it to end…..


It is terrific! I hate to see it end. What’s next?

Lee Showalter

The finest serial I have ever watched. Kudos to the cast and director(s). I was mesmerized by the ability of the cast to portray the story just by their facial expressions. Cast selection was perfect. Photography great and all enhanced by beautiful music

Maria D

Great movie

MJ Kneiser

I just finished watching the entire series on Netflix. I LOVED it! I think it was better than Downton Abbey. Really first rate. I don’t normally like movies with subtitles, but I couldn’t wait until I was able to watch more episodes and sad to see it end. I still want to know if she ever went back to Morrocco?

Faye Parsons

Loved Grand Hotel, Velvet & now The time in Between-saw complete series of both Grand Hotel & The Time In Between, on netflix, but wonder when the rest of Velvet comes on either netflix or Amazon as have both!


Where could I obtain the soundtrack to "The Time in between."


My husband and I are currently hooked on this show! We love Sira!! Wish there were more seasons!!

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Loved and enjoyed “The Time in Between ” I wish there’s more series.


I loved and enjoyed watching these three movie/tv series: The Grand Hotel, Velvet, and The Time in Between. Very well done and all intriguing. I loved them all. I could watch them over and over and don’t get bored because the story is very captivating. As with everyone else, I wish there are more season series.




Of course I messed up my comments!! Ugh! I first watched Gran Hotel, then El Internado, then Velvet and then Time in Between, I LOVED all of them and am hooked on these Spanish shows. I know Velvet season 4 is coming out soon and I am hopefully for a second season of Time in Between!!!!!????????????

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