The It List: 'Rooting for Roona' captures story of baby with hydrocephalus, Liam Neeson returns to action in 'Honest Thief,' 'Requiem for a Dream' gets 4K restoration and the best in pop culture the week of Oct. 12, 2020

Yahoo Entertainment Staff
·18 min read

The It List is Yahoo’s weekly look at the best in pop culture, including movies, music, TV, streaming, games, books, podcasts and more. During the coronavirus pandemic, when most of us are staying at home, we’re going to spotlight things you can enjoy from your couch, whether solo or in small groups, and leave out the rest. With that in mind, here are our picks for Oct. 12-18, including the best deals we could find for each. (Yahoo Entertainment may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page.)

STREAM IT: Get ready to fall in love with Rooting for Roona

The latest Netflix docs follows baby Roona, from rural India, who was born with the rare condition hydrocephalus (also known as “water on the brain”) that caused her to have an enlarged head, three times its normal size. Her parents, desperate to help their daughter but not sure of what to do or how to pay for it, shared Roona’s story publicly to try to find the kind of medical help she needed. And, in some ways, it worked. Her story attracted international attention in 2013, and some doctors in her home country agreed to operate on her at no cost. We watch Roona and her parents as she undergoes brain surgery and they try to make her life as normal as possible. “It’s a story about, you know, two people — one of whom is barely an adult himself, he was 17 when she was born — and how they have raised a child against what many would consider insurmountable odds,” journalist Ammu Kannampilly has summarized. It’s also one that forces us to look at a healthcare system and how families are affected — financially, emotionally and otherwise — when a loved one faces a life-threatening illness. — Raechal Shewfelt

Rooting for Roona premieres Thursday, Oct. 15 on Netflix.

WATCH IT: Liam Neeson is a bad guy gone good in the new action movie Honest Thief

From Taken to Cold Pursuit, Liam Neeson specializes in playing good guys who occasionally do bad things to even worse people. The actor’s latest action movie, Honest Thief, flips that script by casting him as bank robber Tom Carter, who makes the choice to go straight after falling for Kate Walsh’s Annie Sumpter. Before they can settle down together, though, he voluntarily turns himself over to the FBI as a way of coming clean about his criminal past. Unfortunately, he picks the wrong FBI agents (Jai Courtney and Anthony Ramos) to surrender to, and has to run for his life. Because this is Neeson we’re talking about, it isn’t long before he goes on the offensive with his very particular set of skills. Watch the exclusive clip above to see him channeling his Taken energy and promising to make all kinds of trouble for those who dare to cross him. — Ethan Alter

Honest Thief opens in theaters Friday, Oct. 16; check Fandango for ticket and showtime information.

WATCH IT: Requiem for a Dream, now 20, recurs with new 4K release

Darren Aronofsky’s hard-edged and feverish drama Requiem for a Dream looks as good as it ever did — if not somehow better — in a new 4K UHD Blu-ray release, though it’s also as hard as it ever was to watch its drug-addled characters amble around Brooklyn. “I’d say this is the biggest challenge I’ve ever encountered,” screen vet Ellen Burstyn, who earned an Oscar nomination for the film, says in behind-the-scenes interviews with Aronofsky and the cast found on the bonus features (watch an exclusive clip from them above). The 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack features something called Dolby Atmos, “which will transport viewers from an ordinary moment into an extraordinary experience with moving audio that flows all around them,” according to the press release. “Fans will feel like they’re inside the action as the sounds of people, places, things and music come alive with breathtaking realism and move throughout the space.” Are we sure we can handle this? — Kevin Polowy

Requiem for a Dream is available on 4K UHD Blu-ray at Amazon.

WATCH IT: Shark Tank premieres its new socially distanced season

Season 12 of Shark Tank will look a little bit different this year. While longtime sharks Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, Barbara Corcoran, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec and Daymond John return — with their chairs spaced six feet apart — there are some fresh faces, too. This year’s guest sharks include former MLB star Alex Rodriguez, Toms founder Blake Mycoskie, jewelry designer Kendra Scott and KIND founder Daniel Lubetzky. The popular entrepreneurial-themed reality show moved production to Las Vegas for the first time amid the coronavirus pandemic where the cast and crew followed safety protocols in a quarantine bubble, according to Deadline. Expect Shark Tank to highlight the real impact COVID-19 has had on start-ups and small business. “Right now, people are going through really hard times. Really hard times,” Cuban says in the emotional trailer. “You guys are experiencing it, everybody’s experiencing it. And you’ve shown people you can fight through the worst of times.” — Taryn Ryder

Shark Tank Season 12 premieres Friday, Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. on ABC.

STEAM IT: Season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery takes Trekkers back to the future

For its third-year mission, the good ship Discovery is boldly going to another final frontier: the distant future. The Season 3 premiere plucks Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and the rest of the Disco crew from the Christopher Pike Enterprise era and drops them a thousand years forward in the Star Trek timeline, leapfrogging over the days of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Picard. You can bet that they’ll encounter all sorts of new enemies and allies in this brave new world, including the franchise’s first transgender and non-binary characters. With bold storytelling choices like this, Discovery will continue to live long and prosper. — E.A.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 premieres Thursday, Oct. 15 on CBS All Access.

WATCH IT: The Amazing Race returns for the ultimate travel FOMO

Soak this one up, folks, because it’ll no doubt be a long, long time before we see 22 maskless strangers crisscrossing the globe and rushing at full throttle towards Phil Keoghan — at least without some plexiglass and a Travelocity gnome filled with Purell on standby. Filmed way back in the fall of 2018, long before the pandemic put globe-trotting on ice, the travel reality competition’s 32nd season will see 11 teams — including pro volleyball players, a gay couple, NFL vets and a pair of Olympic hurdlers — vying for a $1 million prize as they race around the world, get sweaty in daring physical challenges and rub elbows with the locals. Sigh. Were we ever so young and carefree? — Erin Donnelly

The Amazing Race Season 32 premieres Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 9 p.m. on CBS.

STREAM IT: BLACKPINK is in your area… and on Netflix

Blinks, rejoice! Following the release of their smash official full-length debut, The Album, K-pop’s most unstoppable girl group stars in BLACKPINK: Light Up the Sky. The four-years-in-the-making film, Netflix’s first K-pop documentary, was directed by Caroline Suh and chronicles the evolution of BLACKPINK’s Jennie, Jisoo, Lisa and Rosé — from trainees in Seoul to Coachella 2019 breakout stars to world-dominating superstars — through never-seen interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. — Lyndsey Parker

BLACKPINK: Light Up the Sky premieres Wednesday, Oct. 14 on Netflix.

STREAM IT: The West Wing cast reunites in the name of democracy

They’re back! More than 14 years after the smart, witty drama about the Bartlet administration’s years in the White House went off the air, the cast and producers have come together to encourage people to vote in the upcoming presidential election. Most of the cast members will appear: Allison Janney, Bradley Whitford, Dulé Hill, Janel Moloney, Richard Schiff and Martin Sheen, even Rob Lowe, who departed the series after four seasons. They’ve also made an exciting addition in Sterling K. Brown, who will play the part of Bartlet’s first chief-of-staff, Leo McGarry, since actor John Spencer died in 2005. Even Aaron Sorkin, who created the series then produced and wrote much of it, has returned to rework the episode “Hartsfield’s Landing” into a stage show. It's the one where Charlie and C.J. prank each other over Bartlet’s schedule, while Josh sends Donna on the very important mission of securing exactly two votes for their boss in his reelection campaign. Look for special appearances by former First Lady Michelle Obama, President Bill Clinton and Hamilton creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda. — R.S.

A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote airs Thursday, Oct. 15 on HBO Max.

WATCH IT: CBS begins to air the fourth season of acclaimed sitcom One Day at a Time

The reboot of Norman Lear’s 1970s sitcom — this time around focusing on a Cuban-American family — is pretty much a one-stop shop of relevant social issues when it comes to family TV. There’s immigration, depression, single parenting, alcoholism, teenage drug use, teenage sexuality, a lesbian daughter and her non-binary partner and more. Plus it’s wickedly smart, with a stellar cast (including Rita Moreno!) that deftly maneuvers you from belly laughs to serious crying, all in one tiny, fulfilling episode. After cancellation by Netflix and a rescue by Pop TV, it returns this week on CBS (Pop TV’s Viacom sibling) with a shortened season — six episodes shot on stage after the pandemic delayed production. And while a seventh, politically-focused animated episode will not be airing, we can’t wait to catch up with the amazing Alvarez family. — Beth Greenfield

The broadcast premiere of One Day at a Time airs Monday, Oct. 12 at 9 p.m. on CBS.

WATCH IT: Clare Crawley will finally embark on her journey to find true love as The Bachelorette returns for its 16th season on a new night

Chris Harrison says it every time, but could Season 16 really be the most dramatic season of The Bachelorette? Finding love — and filming — during the coronavirus pandemic alone seemed like enough of an obstacle. Meanwhile, rumors swirled that Clare Crawley found love early in the season and producers reportedly brought in Bachelor Nation star Tayshia Adams to replace her as the Bachelorette. There are even signs of suitor mutiny in the show's latest promo. ABC, we've been waiting for this. We hope you'll accept our rose Tuesday night. — Alexis Shaw

The Bachelorette Season 16 premieres Tuesday, Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. on ABC.

STREAM IT: Oh, what a beautiful mornin’! The classic movie musical Oklahoma! turns 65

Oklahoma!, poster, from left: Shirley Jones, Gordon MacRae, 1955. (Photo by LMPC via Getty Images)
Oklahoma! poster, from left: Shirley Jones, Gordon MacRae, 1955. (Photo: LMPC via Getty Images)

Sixty-five years after the blockbuster big-screen version of Rogers and Hammerstein’s Broadway favorite left moviegoers singing and dancing in the aisles, Oklahoma! is experiencing a renaissance. The musical played a memorable role in Charlie Kaufman’s recent cult hit, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, and was also featured in the first episode of HBO’s Emmy-lauded limited series, Watchmen. Performers like Hugh Jackman and Ali Stroker were also catapulted to success after whistling down those plains: Jackman’s star rose after appearing in an acclaimed 1998 West End production, while Stroker made history as the first Tony-winning actor in a wheelchair for the 2019 Broadway revival. Meanwhile, the 1955 film version is still available to stream and remains a high point for Golden Age musicals, with its gorgeous color palette and spirited production numbers. And you’d best believe that star Shirley Jones — who went on to headline the immortal 1970s series, The Partridge Family, opposite stepson David Cassidy — is still alive and kicking. “I love the part, and I love the show and I love the music,” she said in a 2019 interview. Oh, what a beautiful sentiment. — E.A.

Oklahoma! is available to rent or purchase on Amazon and iTunes.

HEAR IT: Tommy Lee kickstarts his art

The recently reunited Motley Crüe have put their stadium tour on hold due to coronavirus concerns, but that won’t stop drummer Tommy Lee from rocking out. On his third solo album, Andro, he explores the industrial, rap-metal and glam-pop sounds of his previous solo efforts and work with side band Methods of Mayhem, and he enlists a slew of guest stars — ranging from rising rappers Killvein, Push Push and Grimes collaborator Brooke Candy, to old-school rockers like his former Rock Star: Supernova band/castmate Lukas Rossi and Buckcherry’s Josh Todd, to even Post Malone. — L.P.

Download/stream Andro on Apple Music.

READ IT: X-fans can geek out with X-Men: The Art and Making of the Animated Series

(Image: Harry N. Abrams)
(Image: Harry N. Abrams)

No arguing that Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Lawrence were uncanny enough, but many a comic fan considers the 1990s X-Men animated series to be the definitive screen version of Marvel’s iconic mutant team — and this encyclopedic new volume is the definitive guide. Authored by show-runner Eric Lewald and series writer Julia Lewald, this 272-page art book is stuffed with script snippets, concept sketches, storyboards and insider commentary, including how the cartoon pulled off classic comic storylines like Days of Future Past and the Dark Phoenix Saga, both of which eventually became live-action movies. — Marcus Errico

X-Men: The Art and Making of the Animated Series is available Oct. 13 on Amazon. All five seasons of X-Men: The Animated Series are available to stream on Disney+.

STREAM IT: What the Constitution Means to Me is packed with laughs and lessons

Imagine David Sedaris providing the commentary on Hamilton, and you’ve got this funny, educational and moving special from writer and star Heidi Schreck. It’s a performance of her award-winning play — a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and a nominee for two Tonys in 2019 — in which she recounts and often recreates the speeches that she gave on the historic document as a teen. Back then, Schreck would deliver her passionate orations about how the government works and the significance of each amendment in competitions to win prize money for college. (This was around the same time she was “terrifyingly turned on all the time” and obsessed with both Patrick Swayze and the Salem Witch Trials, she tells the audience.) Besides the fact that the show is a blast, it's also a good refresher on the ideals America was founded upon just before we head to the polls. — R.S

What the Constitution Means to Me premieres Friday, Oct. 16 on Amazon.

READ IT: Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Immigrant Women Who Changed the World is making bedtime more badass

Rebel Girls has released a follow-up to its bestselling children’s book The Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, this time shining the spotlight on inspiring women from immigrant backgrounds — from Golda Meir to Gloria Estefan, and Carmen Miranda to Asma Khan. Like its predecessor, this international update features vivid and vibrant illustrations that bring each bio to life, with 70 female or non-binary artists from 29 different countries contributing pieces. There’s no better way to empower your little one (or hey, yourself) as she powers down for the night. — E.D.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Immigrant Women Who Changed the World is available starting Tuesday, Oct. 13 on Amazon.

WATCH IT: Driving While Black offers real stories from the real Green Book

Among the many criticisms leveled at Peter Farrelly’s Best Picture-winning drama, Green Book, is that the film didn’t spend a lot of time on the titular travel guide, which sought to offer Black drivers safe passage through the Deep South at a time when segregation was still strictly enforced. The eye-opening documentary Driving While Black provides a much richer account of both the Green Book, and what it meant for a Black family to take a road trip during the Jim Crow era. Directors Gretchen Sorin and Ric Burns — brother of Ken Burns — start their narrative with the American slave trade, linking the brutal ways white slaveowners restricted the movements of Black slaves to the perils their descendants faced on the road centuries later. Sundown towns, hostile highway patrols and the construction of expressways were just a few of the ways that Black travelers and entire communities were impacted by the arrival of the automotive age, and the film illustrates how the legacy of those prejudiced policies live on today. — E.A.

Driving While Black premieres Tuesday, Oct. 13 on PBS.

READ IT: Master the art of office party planning with The Office: The Official Party Planning Guide to Planning Parties

As people slowly (very slowly) return to the office in 2021, they’re gonna want to celebrate being back in the workplace. Enter the best party planning guide this side of Scranton, PA. Collaborators Marc Sumerak, Julie Tremaine and Anne Taylor Murlowski team up to recreate the most famous recipes, games, pranks and crafts glimpsed in Dunder Mifflin’s hallways and common areas over the nine-season run of The Office. Whether you want to learn how to put a stapler in gelatin, toss together Meemaw’s Baby Vegetable Salad or hold your own Office Olympics, this photo-heavy, lovingly designed guide deserves its own Dundie. — E.A.

The Office: The Official Party Planning Guide to Planning Parties is available starting Tuesday, Oct. 13 at Amazon.

WATCH: Totally Under Control shows Trump administration’s botched response to coronavirus

Arriving just three weeks shy of a crucial presidential election, it remains to be seen if Alex Gibney, Suzanne Hillinger and Ophelia Harutyunyan’s shocking documentary about the Trump administration’s botched response to the coronavirus will affect voters, or merely serve as a matter of posterity. But what a document it is. Comprehensive, insightful, damning and probably calmer than most will expect, it’s like watching the captain of the Titanic and his crew speed directly toward the iceberg for two hours. Totally infuriating, totally essential viewing. — K.P.

Totally Under Control debuts Tuesday, Oct. 13 on VOD services including iTunes; and streams on Hulu starting Tuesday, Oct. 20.

WATCH IT: Spike Lee directs the filmed version of David Byrne’s acclaimed Broadway concert, based on his 2018 album

Sadly, America has turned into a dystopia, and Broadway has gone dark. But David Byrne’s critically heralded Broadway show, American Utopia, is coming to HBO to explore concepts, like human connection and social justice, that have become all the more relevant since the stage show finished its run this past February. The Spike Lee-directed film version, which captures the groundbreaking production that ran at New York’s Hudson Theatre, features spectacular choreography by Annie-B Parsons and a troupe of 11 global musicians flanking the genius ex-Talking Heads frontman. — L.P.

David Byrne’s American Utopia premieres Saturday, Oct. 17 at 8 p.m. HBO.

PLAY IT: Marvel United will make your next game night super

Featuring 10 adorable mini-figures of heroes and villains instantly recognizable to any fan of the MCU — including Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, Red Skull and Ultron — this card-based tabletop game can be played collaboratively by up to four people or, best of all, in solo mode if no one else is around. The goal: Assemble your Avengers from the deck of story cards and try to thwart the nefarious plans of the bad guys. The co-op play adds an exciting wrinkle — different heroes’ power combos can strike a major blow — but if you misplay your hand you might find yourself on the losing end. — M.E.

Marvel United is available at Amazon.

WATCH IT: Crash the AFI Fest from the comfort of your couch

Even a global pandemic can’t cancel film festival season. On the heels of the Toronto and New York film festivals, Los Angeles’s annual AFI Fest is going virtual for its 2020 edition, which movie lovers can attend from their living rooms from October 15-22. The lineup includes a number of American and international movies that have already been on the festival circuit, including Wander Darkly, Tragic Jungle and Wolfwalkers, as well as a number of first-time world premieres. Those high-profile debuts include the thriller I’m Your Woman, starring Rachel Brosnahan and directed by Fast Color’s Julia Hart; Matt Tyrnauer’s sure-to-be controversial documentary series The Reagans; and Errol Morris’s latest non-fiction feature My Psychedelic Love Story. — E.A.

Buy tickets for virtual screenings and events at the official AFI Fest website.

HEAR IT: The Struts turn and face the Strange

Just as the pandemic was starting to sweep America back in April, Britrockers the Struts got tested for COVID-19, sequestered themselves in a house in their newly adopted home city of L.A. and recorded 10 songs in 10 days (nine originals, plus a rollicking cover of the KISS/Girl classic “Do You Love Me”). The result is a modern-day Exile on Main Street, their aptly titled third album Strange Days. The time-capsule record features collaborations with Robbie Williams, Joe Elliott and Phil Collen from Def Leppard, Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello and the Struts’s Albert Hammond Jr. It’s the perfect socially-distanced-party soundtrack for these strange days indeed. — L.P.

Download/stream Strange Days on Apple Music.

— Video produced by Gisselle Bances