‘Hello Tomorrow!’ Review: It’s Only a Paper Moon

‘Hello Tomorrow!’ Review: It’s Only a Paper Moon

This comedy about hustlers selling lunar condos launches with visual pizazz. The emotions take longer to land.

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By James Poniewozik

“The moon belongs to everyone,” declared “The Best Things in Life Are Free.” This was an easy enough sentiment to sing in 1927, before anybody planted a flag up there.

In “Hello Tomorrow!,” a 10-episode comedy starting Friday on Apple TV+, Jack Billings (Billy Crudup), a traveling real-estate salesman, would like to offer you different terms. The moon, or at least a piece of it, can be yours for zero down and $150 a month, courtesy of Brightside Lunar Residences. Just don’t look too closely at the fine print.

Is he selling a chance at a better life, or just a load of green cheese? What’s striking is not only how well Jack, with his spit-shined zeal, sells his earthbound customers on his blue-sky pitch; it’s how deeply he believes himself. “Hello Tomorrow!” spins out a galaxy of deceptions both personal and professional, devised by Jack and those around him, to show how the most powerful and important lies are the ones you tell yourself.

The first thing that catches your eye about “Hello Tomorrow!” is, well, everything. While its conflicts are familiar — too much so, at times — it is visually unlike anything you’ve seen on TV outside “The Jetsons.” The creators, Amit Bhalla and Lucas Jansen, have conceived an alternative, future-past Earth that looks like an illustrator was hired to design a space-themed malt-shop menu in 1955 and got hopped up on bennies.

Tin-can robots in avocado green and goldenrod yellow float about serving drinks and spraying shrubbery. Deliveries arrive to ticky-tacky suburban houses in a hover-van “driven” by a cartoon-video bird. A paperboy pulls a wagon that shoots today’s news out of pneumatic cannons.

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