HELLO TOMORROW! Review: Say Goodbye to All Your Troubles
Billy Crudup stars as a salesman in an alternate-future series making its global debut February 17 on Apple TV+.
Enjoy your flying car today. Go to the moon ... soon.
The first three episodes debut globally Friday, February 17, 2023, on Apple TV+. Subsequent episodes will debut weekly. I've seen all 10 episodes.
The promise is irresistible. And affordable.
To hear traveling salesman Jack tell it, moving to the moon is no longer an impossible dream, restricted to the high, mighty, and wealthy. No, no, put that thought aside: the moon is now available to everybody, for just one low, low down payment. What size house would you like to buy?
In the retro-future, every car can fly, or, at least, move without visible means of support, without any visible rubber tires. It's a world in which friendly robots deliver food and care for infants with equal aplomb. Unless, of course, they make a misteak and leave an innocent woman in a coma, to the despair of her 19-year-old son.
What does that accident have to do with Jack, a slick yet sincere salesman, adroitly captured by Billy Wirth? Created by Amit Bhalla and Lucas Jansen, Hello Tomorrow! deftly establishes an alternate future, rooted in iconic styles and fashions from the 1950s and 60s, in which the Moon is nothing but a three-day rocket trip away for average people.
Melding elements from Mad Men and Blade Runner, Bhalla and Jensen conjure up a kooky blend of personalities, some of whom are strait-laced and conservative in dress and attitude, though talking as if they were the sailors in The Last Detail (1973). Many, many characters are open to the idea of living on the moon, though, and appear to have no suspicion of traveling sales people, which suggests an alternate world that developed quite differently in the post-World War II years.
The show is cloaked in colors and styles that are out of this world, which seems appropriate, all things considered. The story flows gently at first, introducing a world that resembles ours in certain respects, but one in which technology has taken unexpected bounces and body-blows, and come out the worst for wear, though it never looks particularly worn. It's as though people in the suburbs were being sold a dream about another, better suburb, just one that happens to be located on the moon.
Jack is the regional manager of sales for the moon real-estate company, working alongside Shirley (Haneefah Wood), who manages the administrative side, longtime salesman Eddie (Hank Azaria), and earnest younger salesman Herb (Dewshane Williams). One night, Jack gives a sales pitch to a room full of potential buyers, but his canned spiel is interrupted by his own memories and regret, which touches the heart of young Joel (Nicholas Podany), whose mother is the woman who just lapsed into a coma after the robotic accident.
As the episodes flow by, Jack increases his growing relationship with Joel, even as his life history is eventually revealed. We also see the relationship between Shirley and Eddie, learn about the connection between Jack and Shirley, and are introduced to other significant players, including real-estate customer Myrtle (Alison Pill) and Jack's mother Barbara (Jacki Weaver). With each episode running about 30 minutes, the relationships between the characters develop at a relaxed pace that nonetheless keeps the narrative moving forward.
The cast is anchored by the more recognizable (to me) Billy Wirth and Hank Azaria, who complement each other marvelously, representing optimism and pessimism in their nicely-nuanced performances. Haneefah Wood, Dewshane Williams, and Nicholas Podany well represent various shades of personalities that slide between the two extremes, and Alison Pill represents the outsider's view. It's a very well-written show that has been stylishly directed by Jonathan Entwhistle (the first few episodes). Bhalla and Jansen, and the other writers and directors, do a fine job in matching the care and craft of the first three episodes.
Without giving away anything more about the series, it's cleverly amusing, stylishly cool and entirely relatable, with an air of bittersweet nostalgia hovering nearby, ready to pounce and crush hopes and dreams, while holding out the possibility that good things may yet occur. You never know.
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- Billy Crudup
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