Hello Tomorrow Built a New Version of Baseball — and Wants to Show You More of It

Hello Tomorrow Built a New Version of Baseball — and Wants to Show You More of It


When Amit Bhalla and Lucas Jansen were pitching the idea that would eventually become “Hello Tomorrow!” the showrunner pair had plenty of ideas of how to build out the world of Vistaville, the setting for their Apple TV+ series.

They knew they wanted Vistaville to have a sports team. For a town dripping with odd mid-century nostalgia, where better to turn to for a foundation than baseball? But, like everything else in this world of hovercraft Cadillacs and kitchens filled with androids, it needed to have its own bizarre edge specific to the world that Jack Billings (Billy Crudup) and his coworkers move through.

“We wrote the pilot and there’s a ballgame in the background. And we knew it shouldn’t be baseball. So we made jetball, just in the background. When they had us write an Episode 2, we said, ‘You know what was cool? Jetball.’ It’s an organic process. We didn’t know what jetball was, but now we invented more of it and now there’s more of it still to be there to be invented.”

From that initial idea came so many logistical choices in how to make this fictional thing feel real.

They had to think about…

…how the ball would move differently:

“Jetball is kind of like baseball, which neither of us know anything about. However, there is a a chemically-infused or mineral-infused ball that causes it to glow and wobble when articulated in ways by skillful pitchers. It also involves tackling and there’s at least six zones,” Jansen said.

…how the field and the scoring worked:

“That was something crazy and fun with this show. You can’t just say, ‘Oh, that’s the baseball stadium the Yankees play in.’ They repainted all the different lines on the field and did it practically,” Bhalla said. “You also have to think, ‘What’s the scoreboard like?’ I remember having to draw out what the scoring is, even though it’s only in the background for a second.”

….what broadcasts would look like:

“Great credit to our assistant director Todd Pfeiffer, who re-positioned the close-ups of the batters against the sky to look like trading cards from that day because he had them as a kid. He also plays a manager who yells at an umpbot and gives a Hall-of-Fame-level performance. Everybody’s pitching in,” Jansen said.

….how the show could have those robot umpires (a very real thing that professional baseball has been weighing for years):

“We thought it was a really funny little wink to throw in there. If they make the wrong call, everybody’s pissed at them. You’re like, ‘Oh my god. This is right out of our near future,’” Bhalla said.

“The costume department came up to us one day, and they’re like, ‘Well, if the umpire is a robot, he’s going to need a hat.’ And they showed us an ump’s hat that was so wide!” Jansen said. “It’s such a joy for everybody to be imagining, and working at this level. This kind of show that tells you, ‘Oh no, you can’t just show up at a baseball stadium. You’ve got to imagine every single aspect of it and get it right.’”

And that’s all before you get into the uniforms and the concessions and the important conversations that the core characters have while watching all these games play out. It’s one small part of building out the world of a show beyond the borders of what any viewer gets to see.

“The hope was that the whole show feels familiar and uncanny at the same time. So it’s very important to us that there’s that slight ‘off’ quality to it. If we’re lucky enough to have a Season 2 maybe get to see a little more of its workings and more about the world because there’s a lot there,” Bhalla said. “One thing about this imaginative landscape like this is that the roots go so deep. There’s so much more of the iceberg.”

“Hello Tomorrow!” releases new episodes every Friday through April 6 on Apple TV+.

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