The It List: Chris Hemsworth goes swimming on 'Shark Beach,' CNN tells the 'History of the Sitcom,' 'Gossip Girl' returns and the best in pop culture the week of July 5, 2021

·11-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 a lot 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 July 5-11, 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: Thor swims with the fishes in new National Geographic documentary Shark Beach with Chris Hemsworth

Chris Hemsworth is searching for sharks. (Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images for Disney)
Chris Hemsworth is searching for sharks. (Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images for Disney)

He's not afraid of tricksters, dark elves or fire demons, so why would Chris Hemsworth be frightened by a couple of sharks? The Marvel Cinematic Universe's resident Thunder God is using his Asgardian powers for good in the new National Geographic documentary Shark Beach with Chris Hemsworth. Premiering simultaneously on Nat Geo's cable channel and Disney+ as the kickoff to SharkFest 2021, the special is a personal affair for the Australian actor, who is also an avid surfer and environmentalist. Alarmed by the rapidly depleting shark population in the world's oceans, Hemsworth sets out to find ways for humans and sharks to share the seas. He also hopes to dispel some long-standing myths about our aquatic friends, including the Jaws-incepted idea that sharks are people-eating machines. "I want to find out if we can live together without doing each other harm," Hemsworth remarks in the Shark Beach trailer. Here's one thing sharks and humans can both agree on: Chris Hemsworth may just be Hollywood's best Chris. — Ethan Alter

Shark Beach with Chris Hemsworth premieres Monday, July 5 at 9 p.m. on National Geographic Networks and Disney+.

WATCH IT: CNN's History of the Sitcom reminds us why American television is a treasured gift

After premiering The Movies and The Story of Late Night to popular acclaim, CNN Original Series is back with the eight-part docuseries The History of the Sitcom, reuniting audiences with the TV characters we all grew up watching while reminding us of their cultural significance. Featuring more than 180 interviews with icons like Norman Lear, Dick Van Dyke, Bob Newhart, Mel Brooks, Tim Allen, George Lopez and Carl Reiner, as well as new kids on the block like Joey Soloway, Judd Apatow, Dan Levy and Zooey Deschanel, in a thoughtful and well-crafted execution of storytelling, The History of the Sitcom dissects the ins and outs of the American situation comedy — particularly how it has shaped the landscape of entertainment we see today. — David Artavia

The History of the Sitcom premieres Sunday, July 11 with episodes at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. on CNN.

WATCH IT: The Price of Freedom provides a sobering look at the country's gun control debate

The recent wave of violence against Asian-Americans, as well as rising incidents of mass shootings, has renewed our national conversation about gun control. But as Judd Ehrlich's new documentary The Price of Freedom illustrates, this debate stretches back for decades, with some progress — and a lot of frustrating setbacks — along the way. Featuring a wealth of interviews with gun control advocates, as well as Second Amendment defenders, the film zeroes in on the outsized role that the National Rifle Association has played in shaping political policy, sometimes in defiance of public opinion. This exclusive clip from the film features President Bill Clinton reflecting on his attempts to address gun violence with the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which was passed by Congress in 1994 in the face of staunch resistance from the gun industry, only to expire a decade later. To date, it has not been renewed. — E.A.

The Price of Freedom premieres Wednesday, July 7 in theaters. Tickets are available at Fandango.

WATCH IT: Star Wars fan favorite Kelly Marie Tran puts poetry up on the big screen in Summertime

The spirit of Richard Linklater's pioneering indie favorite Slacker — which celebrates its 30th anniversary this summer — is deeply felt in Summertime, a vibrant day-in-the-life narrative that doubles as a big-screen showcase for 25 up-and-coming poets. Executive produced by breakout Star Wars star Kelly Marie Tran and directed by Blindspotting's Carlos López Estrada, the film follows the intersecting lives of its large cast of Los Angeles-based verse-makers as they navigate the streets of their city dealing with various personal dramas. This exclusive clip from the film features a command performance by slam champion Tyris Winter, as he uses the word "home" as the jumping-off point for a moving, masterful poem. — E.A.

Summertime premieres Friday, July 9 in theaters. Tickets are available at Fandango.

WATCH IT: Reinvestigate some of England's most famous cold cases with In the Footsteps of Killers

Move over Benson and Stabler: the dynamic duo of actress Emilia Fox and criminologist professor David Wilson join forces to heat up some decades-old cases in the British true-crime series In the Footsteps of Killers. Premiering on Britbox after its U.K. run last month, the three-episode series reopens the case files on such unsolved crimes as the 1996 disappearance of David Spencer and Patrick Warren (aka the Milk Carton Kids), the 1986 vanishing of Suzy Lamplugh and the 1967 murder of Rita Ellis. This exclusive clip from the Milk Carton Kids episode provides a glimpse of Fox and Wilson's working methods, as they help viewers understand what might have happened to the boys on that fateful Boxing Day. "We made In the Footsteps of Killers as a 'hybrid' — true crime meets unfolding drama — as a way of reflecting the zeitgeist about crime stories," Wilson tells Yahoo Entertainment via e-mail. "The public don't just want the story re-told in ever gorier detail, but to become an active part of the process of solving the mystery of who the killer might be, or where the bodies of the victims might be hidden." — E.A.  

In the Footsteps of Killers premieres Tuesday, July 6 on Britbox.

WATCH IT: HBO Max's Gossip Girl brings back the tea, with a bit more flavor

Are you ready? Everyone's favorite Upper East Siders are back in a new spin-off of 10 hour-long episodes, spotlighting a new generation of rich and famous prep school teens — who look quite different than the ones we came to know in the original Gossip Girl's run. Original cast member Kristen Bell returns to narrate the series, which takes place eight years later. Though this is a continuation of the first storyline, this generation of teens is much more "woke" and diverse than their predecessors. Revolving around half-sisters Julien (Jordan Alexander), a wealthy social media influencer, and Zoya (Whitney Peak), a middle-class newcomer, the new gang will address just how much social media has changed things since last we saw the crew. Oh, the places we'll go (and tag) along the way. We're already hooked. — D.A.

Gossip Girl premieres Thursday, July 8 on HBO Max.

READ IT: From the Streets of Shaolin is 446 pages of Wu-Tang goodness

(Photo: Hachette Books)
(Photo: Hachette Books)

Between the miniseries An American Saga and the docuseries Of Mics and Men, Wu-Tang Clan's been having a pop culture moment. Oversaturation? Not if you truly represent the Wu. Up next is S.H. Fernando's literal deep-dive into the legendary Staten Island rap crew, consisting of RZA, GZA, the late Ol' Dirty Bastard, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Method Man, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa and (sometimes?) Cappadonna, the definitive biography From the Streets of Shaolin. Some of us like our hip-hop history in word form (and, hey, there's even some pictures), making this weighty book instant summer reading material. Also available on audio CD. — Kevin Polowy

From the Streets of Shaolin is available Tuesday, July 6 on Amazon.

HEAR IT: The Wallflowers make a grand re-entrance with Exit Wounds

Jakob Dylan's first Wallflowers album in almost a decade sees him teaming with a completely new lineup of backing musicians, super-producer Butch Walker and — on "I'll Let You Down (But Will Not Give You Up)" — Grammy-winning Americana artist Shelby Lynne. When describing the inspiration behind his seventh studio LP, which was written "during a time when the world felt like it was falling apart," Dylan says in a statement: "I think everybody — no matter what side of the aisle you're on — wherever we're going to next, we're all taking a lot of exit wounds with us. … Wherever you're headed, even if it's to a better place, you leave people and things behind, and you think about those people and those things and you carry them with you. Those are your exit wounds. … That changes the way you address even the simplest things, because you have panic in your mind all the time. You have anxiety. And you also have hope. And it's all in there." — Lyndsey Parker

Exit Wounds by the Wallflowers is available Friday, July 9 to download/stream on Apple Music.

WATCH IT: Atypical is back for its fourth and final season. This time, it's bringing all the tears.

Netflix's fan-favorite dramedy is back after being on a hiatus for nearly two years. But don't worry, it's bringing us everything we've been waiting to see. Featuring 10 episodes just like its prior seasons, Aytpical's fourth and final one picks up where we last saw Sam (Keir Gilchrist) after he made the big decision to leave his parents' house and move in with Zahid (Nik Dodani), which means new but exciting challenges. With a stellar cast like Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brigette Lundy-Paine and Michael Rapaport, the show had a rocky start, when critics cited its depiction of autism, which Sam lives with, as inaccurate. But after a staunch commitment from producers to better represent the community, its third season proved how powerful diverse storytelling can be. We have no doubt the fourth will be the same. — D.A.

Atypical Season 4 premieres Friday, July 9 on Netflix.

WATCH IT: The walls are rockin', and AXS TV is a-knockin'

As live music finally opens up again, AXS celebrates with the six-part docuseries If These Walls Could Rock, which explores some of the country's most beloved and historic concert venues. The season premiere focuses on the Old Brick Church in Charleston, S.C., with a fiery performance by indie-soul band Vintage Trouble; future episodes will put the spotlight on Los Angeles's Troubadour (featuring Jackson Browne), Denver's Red Rocks Amphitheatre (with Big Head Todd & the Monsters), and New Orleans's Preservation Hall (with Ivan Neville). The series is a post-lockdown reminder to all music fans that an online live stream just can't replace the magic of really being there. — L.P.

If These Walls Could Rock premieres Wednesday, July 7 at 8:30 p.m. on AXS.

WATCH IT: Crack a Masterpiece Mystery with the return of Unforgotten

If you've got a weakness for British crime dramas (Broadchurch, River, Endeavour, Silent Witness and so on) you probably already know about this whodunit devoted to cold cases and the people — good and bad — caught up in them. Season 4 sees crime-solvers Cassie Stuart and Sunny Khan (Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar) investigating their own as a corpse dating back to 1989 drums up suspects on the police force. Consider it the perfect Sunday night viewing for wannabe Sherlocks. — Erin Donnelly

Unforgotten Season 4 premieres Sunday, July 11 at 9 p.m. on PBS.

BUY IT: Fast food foodies, get ready to chow down on Ravensburger's Taco Bell Party Pack Card Game

The Taco Bell Party Pack Card Game (Photo: Courtesy of Ravensburger)
The Taco Bell Party Pack Card Game (Photo: Courtesy of Ravensburger)

The game makers at Ravensburger have really thought outside the bun with their latest tabletop card game. The Taco Bell Party Pack lets players satisfy their fast food cravings by assembling meals from Taco Bell's signature menu. Collect the most "crave" chips and you'll be the champion of the drive-thru. Best of all, the game comes in a handy Taco Bell take-out box that makes it easy to transport from one game night to another. — E.A.

The Taco Bell Party Pack Card Game is available at Target.

BUY IT: The Transformers meet Jurassic Park's dinosaurs in an epic toy crossover that's more than meets the eye

The Tyrannocon Rex from the Transformers X Jurassic Park Collaboration (Photo: Courtesy Hasbro and Universal Brand Development)
The Tyrannocon Rex from the Transformers X Jurassic Park Collaboration (Photo: Courtesy Hasbro and Universal Brand Development)

Now that he's been to space, it's understandable that Fast and Furious star Tyrese Gibson would want to explore another final frontier — driving through Jurassic Park. Sadly, that crossover seems unlikely (for now), but Jurassic Park's dinosaur stars are about to come talon-to-talon with another major franchise. Hasbro and Universal have announced the Transformers X Jurassic Park collection, which combines the two things kids love most: giant lizards and giant robots. On shelves in the fall, but available for pre-order now, the line includes the Tyrannocon Rex and the Autobot JP93, which can transform from dinosaurs to vehicles and back again. Just like life, these toy masters always find a way to make the impossible… possible. — E.A.

Transformers X Jurassic Park toys are available for pre-order on Amazon.

— Video produced by Anne Lilburn and edited by John Santo

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