Review by Sean Boelman
Apple TV+ seems to be dominating the game with satirical sci-fi after last year’s Severance and now their new half-hour comedy, Hello Tomorrow! The latter, while perhaps not as sharp as the multiple Emmy-nominee, is nonetheless one of the most intriguing new shows on streaming thanks to amazing character work and the performances to back it up.
The show follows a group of traveling salesmen dealing lunar timeshares as they find themselves in over their heads when they stop in a sleepy small town. It sounds like the perfect premise for a great high-concept sci-fi show, but what Amit Bhalla and Lucas Jansen have created is a wonderful blend of that with character-centric storylines.
The visual style of the series is heavily retro, but with a modern flair — in a similar way to films like Pleasantville or Bad Times at the El Royale. Although it clearly isn’t the highest-budgeted series Apple TV+ has brought to the table, they are still able to do some impressive world-building in simple ways, like an automated briefcase or an alternate tech-powered form of baseball.
Hello Tomorrow! is clearly a showcase for the talents of Billy Crudup, who is continually one-upping himself. His work in this is tender yet hilarious, and has the right amount of duplicitous charm to perfectly embody what this character is supposed to be. Crudup gives the level of performance that is so perfect, it’s hard to believe anyone else could have filled this role.
There is a satirical angle to be found in the humor of this show, largely created by the juxtaposition in the retro futurist style and storyline. However, what really stands out about this show is how cynical it is despite being so colorful and buoyant. The show begins with a woman being run over by an automated milk truck, setting the tone for the dark and bizarre world in which the rest of the story takes place.
Even though the satire in this series is excellent, what is most impressive is the tremendous human touch it offers. The crux of the story is the relationship between Crudup’s and his protegé — and the complexities of their relationship are truly resonant, even in this absurd sci-fi world.
The other characters also get surprisingly thoughtful and developed arcs, although none hits quite as hard as Crudup’s. Hank Azaria plays a salesman with a gambling problem, and is the best he has been in decades here. Matthew Maher has a funny, if gimmicky, part as a bureaucrat with a tendency to mix up syllables. And the surprising scene stealer is Dewshane Williams, who grows into his role nicely over the course of the ten episodes.
Hello Tomorrow! is an amazingly funny and touching show. It has a good concept, but what will really stick with viewers are its characters and performances. Hopefully viewers will want to see more of these salesmen in their zany sci-fi world, because there is plenty more to explore.
Hello Tomorrow! streams on Apple TV+ beginning February 17. All ten episodes reviewed.