The It List: Carrie Underwood, Mariah Carey, Dolly Parton celebrate with holiday TV specials, David Fincher's 'Mank' debuts, 'Y&R' soap airs 12,000th episode and the best in pop culture the week of Nov. 30, 2020
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 Nov. 30 - Dec. 6, 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: Carrie Underwood, Mariah Carey and Dolly Parton give us three reasons to be jolly this holiday season
‘Tis the season for festive holiday music… but why celebrate with stale-as-fruitcake Muzak, when you can rock the halls with modern carols that’ll jumpstart your positive vibrations faster than Frosty learned to speak full sentences? Many pop stars are of course releasing holiday albums this month, but no one does festive like a certain three wise women — Dolly Parton, Carrie Underwood, and the reigning queen of Christmas, Mariah Carey — who are all streaming holiday specials as well. So enjoy, and have a not-so-silent night.
American Idol champion and country superstar Underwood started ringing in the season early, back in September, with her first holiday album, My Gift. And now she’s bringing that celebration to the small screen with My Gift: A Christmas Special From Carrie Underwood, the album’s accompanying HBO Max special. The show will feature Underwood’s duet with John Legend, “Hallelujah” (a new original, not the Leonard Cohen song), and her 5-year-old son Isaiah singing on “Little Drummer Boy,” plus her country-pop spin on classics like “Silent Night,” “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “O Holy Night.”
Nobody throws a party, socially distanced or otherwise, like Mimi. And Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special, on Apple TV+, boasts the most exclusive, A-list guestlist of the season — including Tiffany Haddish, Billy Eichner, Snoop Dogg, Jermaine Dupri, Misty Copeland and, of course, “dem babies” aka Carey’s twins, Moroccan and Monroe. The guests of honor, fellow divas Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson, will even join forces with Carey for a glorious new rendition of “Oh Santa!” This is going to be one sweet (Christmas) day, indeed.
Parton is the gift that keeps on giving this season. The icon recently released her first holiday album in 30 years, A Holly Dolly Christmas (featuring Michael Bublé, Jimmy Fallon, Willie Nelson and Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus), and now an intimate special by the same title will air Sunday on CBS and CBS All Access. The one-hour show will feature a candlelit set of traditional hymns, holiday classics and personal stories from the real-life country angel. And if you need to make your Very Dolly Christmas a Very Very Dolly Christmas, you can also watch her new Netflix movie, Christmas on the Square, which features 14 new original tunes. — Lyndsey Parker
My Gift: A Christmas Special From Carrie Underwood premieres Thursday, Dec. 3 on HBO Max.
Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special premieres Friday, Dec. 4 on Apple TV+.
A Holly Dolly Christmas premieres Sunday, Dec. 6 on CBS on CBS All Access.
WATCH IT: Could All My Life be the biggest tearjerker of the year?
We dare you to try watching the trailer for All My Life without welling up, if not flat-out bawling. So it’s hard to imagine what the full 93-minute feature is going to do to our tear ducts. On-the-rise indie director Marc Meyers (My Friend Dahmer, Human Capital) makes his major studio debut with this romantic drama based on the real-life viral story of Solomon Chau (Harry Shum Jr.) and Jennifer Carter (Jessica Rothe), a fun-loving Toronto couple who moved their wedding up — with the help of a $50,000 GoFundMe page — after the groom’s liver cancer diagnosis gave him only months to live. See? You can’t even read the synopsis without crying. Watch an exclusive clip from their (movie version) wedding above. — Kevin Polowy
All My Life opens in theaters Friday, Dec. 4; visit Fandango for ticket and showtime information.
STREAM IT: Mena Suvari is friends with a monster and her kid thinks she’s crazy in the new horror movie What Lies Below
Meeting your mom’s new boyfriend is never easy, but it’s even more of a challenge when said boyfriend isn’t what he seems. That’s the set-up for Braden R. Duemmler’s debut creature feature, What Lies Below, starring American Beauty’s Mena Suvari as a single mom who thinks she’s won the boyfriend lottery when she falls for the strapping John Smith (Trey Tucker). But her teenage daughter, Liberty (Ema Horvath), just knows there’s something off about the guy… if only she could prove it. Take a look at this exclusive clip to get a sense of why exactly she’s so suspicious about John — let’s just say it’s in his eyes. Duemmler’s slow-burn script does a nice job balancing ordinary domestic drama with supernatural flourishes, building to a third act that’s got several big twists up its sleeve. — Ethan Alter
What Lies Below premieres on digital and on demand Friday, Dec. 4 on FandangoNOW.
DRINK IT: Bring a bottle of Highland Park 12 Year to your holiday dinner to impress your pops and to warm up the party
This is a young man’s Scotch. The Highland Park 12 Year Old Whisky is a great transition whisky for anyone looking to make the switch from Bourbon or Irish Whisky to Scotch. This single malt scotch lacks the overwhelming charred peat taste that often makes Scotch difficult for young drinkers to withstand.
Twelve years of distillation locks in the aromatic smoky peat that can be unearthed by a splash of water or dash of citrus. An ice cube or two opens up notes of honey locked inside. It’s light on the tongue with a remarkably easy finish.
The light hue of this Scotch is welcoming and warm. There is no sharp after-taste, just lingerings of dry fruit that stick to the taste buds between sips. Drunk over ice, the whisky becomes smoother and smoother with every swig.
Although bartenders tend to shy away from Scotch as the foundation for cocktails, the Highland Park 12 Year would make a delightful base for an Old Fashioned. Paired with an orange twist and citrus bitters, this Scotch could fool anyone into thinking it’s a top shelf Rye.
Consider a bottle of Highland Park 12 Year Old Viking Honour for your boss, father or any whisky lovers in your life. Its delicate taste can be welcomed by even the most sensitive pallets. — Jason Peters
Shop Highland Park 12 Year Whisky at drizly.com.
WATCH IT: It’s a Golden week for Eddie Murphy fans
Coming on the heels of recent word that Coming 2 America finally has a 2021 release date (Can we get an "Amen"?), there’s more great news for Eddie Murphy fans this week: Two of the comedy icon’s most beloved movies, Coming to America and Beverly Hills Cop, land on newly remastered 4K HD this week, while two others, Trading Places and The Golden Child, get new Blu-ray releases. The 1988 classic Coming to America is the crown jewel among the bunch, coming in Steelbook form that includes a Randy Watson Sexual Chocolate “World Tour” poster. But really, how can you go wrong with any of these? Especially Trading Places, from which we’ve got an exclusive clip from the bonus features above. — K.P.
Coming to America (4K UHD), Beverly Hills Cop (4K UHD), The Golden Child (Blu-ray) and Trading Places (Blu-ray) are available Tuesday, Dec. 1 on Amazon.
WATCH IT: Robert Altman’s Popeye gets a 40th anniversary Blu-ray fit for a sailor man
Released to critical and commercial indifference on December 12, 1980, Robert Altman’s live action adaptation of Popeye has slowly, but surely built a passionate fanbase over the ensuing four decades. Owing more to the offbeat comic strips where the spinach-chomping sailor man originated, as opposed to the cartoons that made him a pop culture sensation, the movie is a light-hearted musical romp that benefits from lavish production design and delightfully weird performances by the entire ensemble, from stars Robin Williams and Shelly Duvall to supporting players like Paul Dooley and Linda Hunt. Duvall’s Olive Oyl is a particular standout, and Altman can be heard singing her praises in this exclusive clip from one of four featurettes included on Popeye’s all-new Blu-ray edition. “Gilda Radner was the first person who was thought about,” the celebrated director — who died in 2006 — reveals in an archival interview. “She would have been good, but to me, Shelly was Olive Oyl. She had all of those qualities.” — E.A.
Popeye is available on Blu-ray on Tuesday, Dec. 1 on Amazon.
WATCH IT: Celebrate The Young and the Restless's ‘historic’ and ‘very moving’ 12,000th episode
Present and past viewers of the long-running CBS soap opera are in for a nostalgic treat as it marks the mega milestone on Dec. 1 — and plays out within a week-long celebration. “12,000 — that’s a lot of episodes,” two-time Emmy winner Jess Walton, who’s stirred up trouble in Genoa City as the formidable Jill Abbott since 1987, marvels to Yahoo Entertainment. “We were talking the other day — the cast members — and the best actors in the world can’t touch the amount of airtime we’ve had,” since the show's 1973 debut. Walton promises an “an edge of excitement” throughout the week’s shows, which bring together the core Abbott, Newman and Chancellor families for the wedding of Abby Newman (Melissa Ordway) and Phillip “Chance” Chancellor IV (Justin Gaston). “All of us are veterans of the show — we’ve known each other for 33, 32 years,” Walton says of working with long-time castmates Eric Braeden (Victor), Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki), Tricia Cast (Nina), Peter Bergman (Jack), Eileen Davidson (Ashley) and Beth Maitland (Traci) for the episodes. “As the hours went on" while taping, "we got loopy and we’d be laughing and mischievous. Then the cameras would roll and everything would click in — all these years of history of playing those characters. We know them up and down. They’re like inside of us." And the end result is “very, very moving,” Walton promises. “It’s a very monumental wedding, it’s historic on this show, and I think fans will love it.” — Suzy Byrne
The Young and the Restless kicks off the week-long event Monday, Nov. 30 at 12:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. PT on CBS and CBS All Access with the 12,000th episode airing Tuesday, Dec. 1.
STREAM IT: David Fincher takes on Old Hollywood with Mank
His oeuvre includes hits as varied as Fight Club, Gone Girl and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but, based on the buzz from critics, Mank just might be director David Fincher’s very own Citizen Kane — which is fitting, since it centers on writer Herman “Mank” Mankiewicz and his experience working on that legendary Orson Welles film. Drawing from a screenplay written by Fincher’s late father, Jack Fincher, back in the 1990s, the black-and-white biological drama stars Gary Oldman in the title role, with supporting turns from Amanda Seyfried, Ferdinand Kingsley, Tom Burke, Arliss Howard and more. While it’s a shame the pandemic thwarted its plans for a big theatrical release — in any other year, it’s just the sort of Oscar frontrunner families would head out to see after Thanksgiving dinner — the decision to ultimately stream it on Netflix means more people will get to soak up its Old Hollywood lore, safely. — Erin Donnelly
Mank premieres Friday, Dec. 4 on Netflix.
STREAM IT: ‘Does someone need a hug?’ Try watching The Holiday Movies That Made Us
There are just certain things that instantly evoke that Christmas spirit: making and eating sugar cookies, singing “Silent Night” and popping a beloved movie of the season on the TV. The Will Ferrell new classic Elf is just one of the many crowd favorites people turn to again and again. The holiday edition of Netflix’s series The Movies That Made Us shines its spotlight on one of Ferrell’s most loved films, offering interviews with behind-the-scenes players and fun factoids about the 2003 hit. A second holiday episode examines director Tim Burton’s whimsical stop-motion animation film The Nightmare Before Christmas, which has become a cult classic. We have more than a few suggestions for future episodes... — Raechal Shewfelt
The Holiday Movies That Made Us airs Tuesday, Dec. 1 on Netflix.
HEAR IT: We’re dreaming of a White Stripes Christmas
Here’s a box many indie-rock fans would love to find under the tree. The White Stripes Greatest Hits is the first-ever career-spanning anthology from the pioneering garage-rock duo of Jack and Meg White, compiling 26 previously released tracks digitally as well as on double 150-gram vinyl. And yes, one of those tracks is the Stripes’s famous cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” — L.P.
The White Stripes Greatest Hits is available on CD, vinyl or streaming on Amazon.
STREAM IT: On your marks: The Great British Baking Show is back for a seasonal sugar rush
2020 has thrown a lot of misery at us, but making us give up The Great British Baking Show cold turkey after last week’s finale isn’t one of them (though you will have to find a way to fill that Paul Hollywood-sized hole in your life after Dec. 4, sob). The beloved program has whipped up two holiday specials packed with pastries and ugly Christmas sweaters, as fan favorite contestants (Yan! Briony!) return to compete, and castmembers from the sitcom Derry Girls try their hand at festive treats. Oh, and in case you’re wondering why Host of Christmas Past Sandi Toksvig, who has since departed and been replaced by comedian Matt Lucas, is still in the mix, it’s because the episodes were filmed last year. — E.D.
The Great British Baking Show: Holidays will air in two parts Friday, Dec. 4 on Netflix.
READ IT: The Mandalorian art book is a breathtaking bounty for Star Wars fans
Following the jaw-dropping double whammy of Ahsoka Tano making her live-action Star Wars debut and the reveal of Baby Yoda’s real name (Grogu?!) in last week’s installment, we just can’t get enough of The Mandalorian. Among the Disney+ series’ signature touches is showcasing episode concept art during the closing credits, stunning imagery channeling the lived-in aesthetic of visionary concept artist Ralph McQuarrie. This latest entry in Abrams Books’s eye-popping Art of Star Wars series compiles even more of those paintings along with behind-the-scenes commentary as it traces the show’s development — from creator Jon Favreau’s initial pitch (a samurai Western about “a lone Mandalorian gunfighter redeemed by the child that he must protect”) and fellow executive producer Dave Filoni’s earliest sketches of Din Djarin and the Child to the array of uncanny aliens, fantastic creatures, exotic planets and strange ships scattered across that galaxy far, far away. A must for Mando fans. — Marcus Errico
The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Season 1) is available Tuesday, Dec. 1 from Amazon and other retailers.
WATCH IT: Dear Santa is a gift
Not only is this IFC documentary packed with adorable children reading their letters to the big guy himself, but it shows us what happens once their messages get mailed. And they do get mailed. The U.S. Postal Service receives hundreds of thousands of messages addressed to Santa each holiday season. Many of those heartwarming — make that heart-melting — wishes are fulfilled by generous elves across the country participating in the U.S.P.S.’s Operation Santa program. Here, audiences meet some of Santa’s helpers as they select and fulfill as many wishes as they can from the touching and funny letters. They also meet the kids, some of whom lost their homes in the California wildfires or whose families are struggling financially. While some imaginative writers asked for fantastic gifts, such as a flying dragon or a dinosaur, others made achingly simple requests, such as food or gifts for family members.
“Once people start reading, they can’t hardly stop,” Janice, the head elf in Chicago, says. “And we actually put tissue on the table, because they sit there and they cry.” After you see the film, browse the project website to read letters and become an elf yourself. — R.S.
Dear Santa arrives in select theaters and everywhere on-demand on Friday. Dec. 4.
HEAR IT: It’s Shawn Mendes’s most Wonder-ful time of the year
The fourth studio album by the Canadian pop star, Wonder, features the single “Monster” with fellow Canadian pop star Justin Bieber, and is the 22-year-old’s most confessional record to date. In a statement, the singer revealed: "It really feels like a piece of me has been written down on paper and recorded into song. I tried to be as real and as honest as I've ever been. It's a world and a journey and a dream and an album I've been wanting to make for a really long time. I absolutely love it.” He loves it so much, in fact, that he had even tattooed the word “wonder” on his right arm. — L.P.
Wonder by Shawn Mendes arrives Friday, Dec. 4; download/stream it on Apple Music.
STREAM IT: Celebrating the 35th anniversary of Young Sherlock Holmes is elementary
It may not have spawned a franchise, but Young Sherlock Holmes did successfully give many young kids nightmares back in the 1980s. As written by Chris Columbus and directed by Barry Levinson, this youthful version of the famed English detective mixes Sherlock Holmes-ian mystery with Indiana Jones-like adventure, not to mention a touch of Harry Potter-esque boarding school magic. After meeting at Brompton Academy, the teenage Sherlock (Nicholas Rowe) and Watson (Alan Cox) get caught up in a wild story involving Egyptian cults, hallucination-inducing weapons and a sword-swinging stained glass knight that’s one of the earliest CGI characters in movie history. Young Sherlock Holmes more than earns its place on the shelf alongside other horror-laced Amblin Entertainment yarns like Poltergeist, The Goonies and Arachnophobia. — E.A.
Young Sherlock Holmes is currently streaming on CBS All Access and Amazon.
WATCH IT: HBO’s award-winning Chernobyl comes in Ultra HD 4K and Steelbook editions
It’s not exactly feel-good family viewing for the holidays, but it is must-see TV if you haven’t yet caught it. Craig Mazin was previously best known as a comedy writer (The Hangover Parts II and III), Ted Cruz’s college roommate and screenwriting guru (check out the excellent ScriptNotes podcast) before he changing his entire Wikipedia narrative with this powerhouse drama that chronicles the 1986 nuclear plant disaster in the former Soviet Union republic that is now Ukraine. The stirring and increasingly tense 5-part series won big at both the Emmys and Golden Globes. Now it arrives in both Ultra HD 4K and Steelbook editions, with the latter including all sorts of behind-the-scenes bonus materials. — K.P.
Chernobyl on 4K UHD is available on Amazon and the Steelbook is available exclusively at Best Buy.
PLAY IT: Funko Games has Christmas-themed stocking stuffer card games for everyone on your nice (or naughty) list
Funko Games’s Christmas stocking truly runneth over with holiday-ready pop culture card games. Choose between five different stocking-sized sets based on beloved movies and TV specials. The six-and-under audience will have a blast with Frosty the Snowman and Elf: Snowball Showdown, both of which combine easy-to-learn instructions with adorable artwork. ‘80s kids, meanwhile, can choose between games based on perennial holiday movie favorites A Christmas Story, Gremlins and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Whether you’re matching Mogwai with Gizmo, triple dog daring Ralphie’s rivals or untangling lights alongside Clark Griswold, these games are a great way to pass the time when the weather outside is frightful. — E.A.
Funko’s Holiday Card Games are available on Amazon.
— Video produced by Jon San and edited by John Santo