The Role Billy Crudup Was Born to Play
Feb 15, 2023
Home TV Reviews ‘Hello Tomorrow!’ Gives Billy Crudup the Role He Was Born to Play | Review
Starring Crudup, Haneefah Wood, Alison Pill, and more, it’s the fresh reinvention of Death of a Salesman that we never knew we needed.
Image via Apple TV+
Billy Crudup has almost become a bit of a golden goose for Apple TV+, much like Julia Garner has for Netflix or the late great Michael K. Williams was for HBO. His role as Cory Ellison on The Morning Show landed him acclaim across the map and landed him his first-ever Emmy win in 2020 and was nominated for the same role again in 2022. While Apple’s star-studded series is still chugging along, it still makes sense why they’d want to give the series’ stand-out performer his own show to headline.
That’s where Hello Tomorrow! comes in — a new series that feels like Death of a Salesman but with a retro-futuristic backdrop and an extra helping of humor. The new series opens with Jack Billings (Crudup), a salesman whose charisma is so overwhelming that it almost seems fake. He approaches Sal (Michael Harney), an older, scraggly gentleman drinking alone at night at a diner managed by robots. After chatting Sal up, Jack promises Sal that he can make his life better and attempts to sell him a luxurious place of his own on the moon.
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From here, we start to learn more about the kind of man Jack is and just how different he is from how presents himself to the outside world. He runs a company called Brightside Lunar Residences, where he and his ragtag team of salesmen try to sell timeshares on the moon. It sounds neat — but the truth is, nobody really seems to know what these places look like, except for Jack. We also learn that Jack left his family years ago, but when his ex-wife is hospitalized after a freak accident, he takes the opportunity to recruit his 19-year-old son Joey Shorter (Nicholas Podany) and make a salesman out of him.
Image via Apple TV+
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Hello Tomorrow! has a unique kind of setup that many of Apple’s best originals have succeeded with, and it also has the writing to back it up. Retro-futurism is a concept that has been done plenty of times before, but more in the realm of genre stories like The Incredibles or video games like Fallout, and not in a show such as this. It makes the story of Hello Tomorrow! fresh and engaging, and it definitely helps the show feel all the more immersive to the point where we can understand just how some of the prospective clients will buy into Jack and his team’s promises of a brighter tomorrow on the moon. There are plenty of plot twists, reveals, and surprises that keep the story moving forward, and just when you think the show can’t delve any deeper, it does exactly that. From an intense loan shark (W. Earl Brown) keeping a watchful eye under the weaselly salesman Eddie (Hank Azaria), to a runaway housewife (Allison Pill) who feels jaded by the broken promises of the eager-to-please salesman Herb (Dewshane Williams), and of course the fragile relationship bond between Jack and Joey built entirely on lies, there’s much more to the series than just the moon, and it makes for a surprisingly engaging watch all the way through. The storytelling on display is exceptional, and its colorful world just feels like the cherry on top.
Jack Billings is the exact kind of character that Crudup has always excelled at playing; he’s the right mix between a workaholic whose career takes priority over his loved ones and a genuine optimist that is ultimately trying to make things right (or at least right in his eyes). He has excellent chemistry with all of his co-stars, particularly Podany and Haneefah Wood — another major standout as Jack’s right-hand woman Shirley Stedman. In a cast full of characters with sketchy backgrounds Shirley is one of the few characters that we fully empathize with, and her unlikely romance with Azaria’s Eddie is shockingly sweet and funny.
Then there’s Podany as Joey, who is without a doubt the beating heart of the series. His character is the endearing underdog that Jack so desperately wants to be. There’s such an innocence to his character compared to the rest of the cast that Podany pulls off magnificently, and he shines bright acting side-by-side with Crudup. This is the kind of role that will make Podany a name to watch out for in future projects (and hopefully future seasons). Pill is also in familiar territory as a woman in the midst of an existential crisis, but unlike the roles where she plays some irredeemable and villainous characters, here she is able to make the audience care for her, even if she is at odds with our protagonists.
Image via Apple TV+
There are moments, particularly in the latter episodes, when the plots become a bit jumbled, and certain ones feel as if they didn’t serve much of a purpose outside of telling the audience things that they pretty much expected. It can feel a bit repetitive but never to the point where it loses your interest. The direction across the map is very impressive — the series has an extremely cinematic feel to it with its near-perfect and stylish visual effects, and episodes that are perfectly paced and run no more than 30 minutes apiece. Whether you watch it weekly as each episode drops or binge all 10 episodes once they’re all out, it’s a show that feels satisfying without it ever feeling like it’s trying too hard.
Apple has proven itself time and time again with its original shows, and Hello Tomorrow! is another reason why Apple TV+ is a must for any and all TV enthusiasts. It’s the right mix between a perfect cast, a unique retro-futuristic world, and strong writing and storytelling that makes it worthy of your attention. It’s the fresh reinvention of Death of a Salesman that we never knew we needed nor did we even think about asking for, and as strange as that sounds, it’s more than worth your time.
The first three episodes of Hello Tomorrow! will debut February 17 on Apple TV+, with new episodes premiering weekly.
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