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The It List: Dwayne Johnson runs for president in 'Young Rock,' Oscar favorite 'Nomadland' debuts, new 'Star Trek' 8-bit web game launches and the best in pop culture the week of Feb. 15, 2021

Yahoo Entertainment Staff
·11 min read
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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 Feb. 15-21, including the best deals we could find for each. (Yahoo Entertainment may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page.)

WATCH IT: Dwayne Johnson reflects on his past — and imagines his presidential future — in the NBC comedy Young Rock

President Rock? That’s the bright future promised by Young Rock, Dwayne Johnson’s new NBC comedy that opens in the far-off year of 2032 when the wrestler-turned-actor-turned-politician is officially on the campaign trail. While on his cross-country tour, Johnson is followed by Randall Park — whose future self has left acting behind for a semi-lucrative career as a roving news anchor — and their conversations allow the Rock to bring his past to life… literally. In a tip of the fedora to The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, young Dwayne is played by three different actors at three different stages: Adrian Groulx is the 10-year-old version, Bradley Constant is the 15-year-old Rock and Uli Latukefu takes over at 18, while Stacey Leilua and Joseph Lee Anderson play his parents, Ata and Rocky Johnson. (The elder Johnson died last January, and the series premiere is dedicated to his memory.) Each episode is loosely adapted from real incidents in the Rock’s eventful life, and couples Goldbergs-esque pop culture jokes with warm-hearted family comedy in the tradition of Park’s own Fresh Off the Boat. But some of the best jokes comes in the 2032 segments as Johnson forecasts what we can expect from the rest of his big-screen career, from a fifth Jumanji movie co-starring Ludacris to a Kiss biopic where he plays Gene Simmons. Talk about presidential. — Ethan Alter

Young Rock premieres Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. on NBC.

STREAM IT: Nomadland is your Oscar frontrunner

They’re two months delayed, but the Academy Awards are still scheduled to march on this year on April 25. That means there’s been an even longer “awards season” than usual, but there’s one film pundits have long posited will be the film to beat: That is Chloé Zhao’s gorgeously captured triumph Nomadland, a deeply stirring drama about the middle-aged widow Fern (Frances McDormand), who works seasonal retail gigs while traversing the American West and living out of her van. While there’s an enviable freedom to Fern’s nomadic lifestyle, the film also serves as an indictment of America’s treatment of the aging working class, driven home by the always exceptional McDormand’s soulful performance. Simply put, this movie rocks. (That line will make more sense once you’ve seen the movie.) — K.P.

Nomadland debuts Friday, Feb. 19 in theaters (get tickets at Fandango) and on Hulu.

STREAM IT: Jack Kilmer stars alongside Michael K. Williams and Melissa Leo in the timely drama Body Brokers

Writer/director John Swab draws on his own experiences as a recovering drug addict for Body Brokers, which explores how some treatment centers exploit, rather than help, their patients. Jack Kilmer — son of Val — stars as Swab’s fictionalized stand-in Utah, a Midwestern teenager brought across the country to a California detox center on the recommendation of a mysterious benefactor, Wood (The Wire’s Michael Kenneth Williams). With the aid of a kind psychiatrist (Melissa Leo), he’s quickly on the road to recovery, only to discover that his presence is part of a larger insurance fraud scheme run by the very people he wanted to trust. Brought in to be part of the scam, Utah eventually has second thoughts when it forces him to potentially hurt someone he loves. In this exclusive clip from the movie, he confronts Wood over their actions, and Williams gets to tear into a meaty monologue with some of that old-school Omar gravitas. — E.A.

Body Brokers premieres Friday, Feb. 19 on digital and on demand services including FandangoNOW, Redbox and iTunes.

STREAM IT: The Apple TV+ sci-fi series For All Mankind heads back to the moon for Season 2

The first season of For All Mankind imagined what the world — and outer space — might look like had the Russians won the Space Race in the 1960s. When the Apple TV+ show returns for its sophomore year on Feb. 19, it picks up at the dawn of the 1980s when mankind has a nascent colony on the lunar surface. And speaking of dawn, this exclusive clip from the Season 2 premiere allows the astronauts — and the viewers at home — to experience what sunrise looks like from the moon. Consider it the calm before the storm, as global politics and personal dramas inevitably threaten to impede our reach for the stars as the rest of the season unfolds. — E.A.

For All Mankind Season 2 premieres Friday, Feb. 19 on Apple TV+.

WATCH IT: Lovecraft Country: Season 1 reaches Blu-ray

It didn’t take HBO long after Watchmen to give fans of entertainment that blends genre with smart social commentary an heir apparent: That has to be Misha Green’s continually compelling Lovecraft Country, a drama-horror hybrid that follows a Korean war vet (Jonathan Majors) and his photographer friend (Jurnee Smollett) on a journey across the 1950s Jim Crow South in search of the latter’s missing father. Season 1 of the acclaimed series lands on Blu-ray this week with a host of cool behind-the-scenes featurettes, which you can preview in the exclusive clip above. — Kevin Polowy

Lovecraft Country: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray is available Tuesday, Feb. 16 on Amazon.

STREAM IT: Britain’s buzziest drama, It’s a Sin, lands stateside

Screenwriter and producer Russell T. Davies is most often credited with reinvigorating the Doctor Who franchise, but his latest offering is much more in line with one of his earliest series, the original, Manchester-set Queer as Folk. As with that series, It’s a Sin captures the carefree spirit of gay culture in the U.K., here set in London circa the early ‘80s and roaring with a soundtrack heavy on New Wave tunes (fittingly, the show’s title itself hails from a Pet Shop Boys hit). It’s a bubbly backdrop against which the heartbreak and loss of the AIDS crisis begins to play out; it’s a delicate balance critics praised when the five-part miniseries aired earlier this year in the U.K. Neil Patrick Harris and Years & Years frontman Olly Alexander star. — Erin Donnelly

It’s a Sin premieres Thursday, Feb. 18 on HBO Max.

WATCH IT: Queen Sugar makes its grand return

Creating the fifth season of Ava DuVernay’s OWN series about estranged siblings returning to their family’s sugarcane farm in Louisiana was no small feat. After COVID-19 shut down production, along with the rest of the world, the team took six months of quarantine. They ended up rewriting the episodes that were already in the can to focus on all that was happening in real life, especially the Black Lives Matter protests and the election. Eventually, the production bought out a New Orleans hotel where everyone could stay during filming, and people weren’t allowed to leave, unless they were going directly to the set. The result is more of the family drama that we’ve come to expect from the critically acclaimed series, with a very 2020 twist. Fans can already expect more, because the network has renewed the show for a sixth season. — Raechal Shewfelt

Queen Sugar Season 5 premieres Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. on OWN.

PLAY IT: Prove your Starfleet mettle in a new Star Trek 8-bit web game

Think you can outsmart Captain James T. Kirk? Here’s your chance with Star Trek: Kobayashi Maru, an 8-bit recreation of the notorious Starfleet simulation famed for being unwinnable — until Kirk found a way to win. Created by mobile games company Scopely — who previously produced Star Trek: Fleet Command — this 8-bit recreation puts the player in the position of a lowly cadet, who has to pick the exact right path to reach a 1:10,000-odds victory. Those who figure out a way to beat the Starfleet system at its own game will be richly rewarded. Not with the captain’s chair on the Enterprise, of course, but the next best thing: a lifetime subscription to CBS All-Access (soon to be renamed Paramount+) and limited-edition Trek collectibles. Live long and prosper… and show Kirk he’s not the only one who can do the impossible. — E.A.

Star Trek: Kobayashi Maru is available at KobayashiMaru.com.

WATCH IT: New Cher television special turns back time

LONG BEACH, CA - JULY 1:  Entertainer Cher performs her song
Cher performs her song "If I Could Turn Back Time" on the battleship USS Missouri for the video of the song which was filmed on July 1, 1989 in Long Beach, Calif. (Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Few pop stars have repeatedly reinvented themselves over the decades as has Cher. And in Reelz’s Cher: The Story of Her Songs, three of the singularly named diva’s most iconic singles — 1965’s “I Got You Babe,” 1988’s “Turn Back Time” and 1998’s “Believe” — get the anthology treatment they deserve. In the hour-long special, songwriters (including the Midas-touched Diane Warren), label executives, sessions musicians, record producers and video directors share all they know about Cher. — Lyndsey Parker

Cher: The Story of Her Songs airs Sunday, Feb. 21 at 8 p.m. on Reelz.

STREAM IT: Choose Bear Grylls’s next adventure in the Netflix interactive film Animals on the Loose

Nobody tells survival expert Bear Grylls what to do… until now. Netflix’s latest interactive film, Animals on the Loose: A You vs. Wild Interactive Movie allows viewers at home to guide the Man vs. Wild star through a multi-part adventure with fresh obstacles waiting at every turn. Will Bear offer himself as bait in order to trap a cunning lion, or try a less deadly option? Should he snack on wild berries or wild grubs? The choice is entirely in your hands, as the real-life daredevil seeks to make an out-of-control wildlife sanctuary safe again. — E.A.

Animals on the Loose premieres Tuesday, Feb. 16 on Netflix.

WATCH IT: SNL’s Kenan Thompson is ready for primetime

After 17 seasons as a Saturday Night Live cast member — Lorne Michaels himself has called him “one of the greatest of all time” — Thompson is headlining his own sitcom. (Don’t worry, he plans to keep his late night gig, too!) Here, he plays the host of an Atlanta morning show, the widowed father of two young girls, raising them with the help of his father-in-law (Don Johnson) and his brother (played by hilarious SNL castmate Chris Redd). It’s been in the works for a few years, but Thompson said he’s proud of the way it turned out. “We’ve settled on something I think is pretty brilliant and I couldn’t be more happy to be surrounded by people that I love seeing every day for, you know, 12 plus hours a day,” he told reporters at NBC’s press day. “I think we’re making something really special here.” Thompson and Michaels are both producers, and the first episode is directed by another 30 Rock alum: Chris Rock. — R.S.

Kenan premieres Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 8:30 p.m. on NBC.

WATCH IT: Celine Dion’s career is all coming back to you now

Canadian singer Celine Dion performs during her first of seven shows scheduled until December 5 at the Bercy's Palais Omnisports on November 25, 2013 in Paris. This is Dion's first concert in France since five years after she released her last album
Celine Dion performs at the Bercy's Palais Omnisports on November 25, 2013 in Paris. (Photo: PIERRE ANDRIEU/AFP via Getty Images)

Celine Dion: The Story of Her Songs is a musical journey told through three songs that helped catapult the former French Quebec child prodigy to international superstardom: 1996’s “Because You Loved Me” (also penned by Diane Warren) and Jim Steinman mini-rock opera “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” and 2003’s Swedish dance remake of the Cyndi Lauper/Roy Orbison ballad “I Drove All Night.” Songwriter Warren, video director Nigel Dick and record producer Peer Astrom tell the tales behind all three epic tracks. — L.P.

Celine Dion: The Story of Her Songs airs Sunday, Feb. 21 at 9 p.m. on Reelz.

— Video produced by Jon San and edited by John Santo