Coronavirus: Our picks for the best entertainment nostalgia to revisit during quarantine

USA TODAY entertainment staff

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.

Our colleagues from the USA TODAY Life team are here to share their favorite comfort entertainment. 

While unimaginable circumstances are unfolding, revisiting a time when things weren't so unpredictable can provide a sense of contentment. 

"During a time of stress, strangely enough, people find it much more comforting to look backward, rather than to look forward," says Krystine Batcho, a professor in the psychology department at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York.

"The future, even in the best of times, has always got some uncertainty to it. Now that we’re surrounded by uncertainty with respect to the pandemic, we don’t really want the uncertainties of the future."

To hopefully help put you at ease, USA TODAY's entertainment team has compiled a list of cherished, throwback entertainment. 

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The VHS tape (or DVD) that you practically wore out

“Rookie of the Year”: The 1993 movie about a boy (Thomas Ian Nicholas) whose injured limb heals in such a way that it gives him an incredible pitching arm was one of my favorite movies as a kid, despite the fact that it gave me false hope about the athletic future of my own broken bones. A rewatch proves that my cinematic taste of yore was, well, not the most sophisticated. But I don’t need highbrow movies right now! – Carly Mallenbaum

Where to watch: Disney PlusiTunes, Vudu, YouTube, Amazon Prime and Google Play

“The Outlaw Josey Wales”: Clint Eastwood’s 1976 Western was supposed to be a VHS rental, but the store went out of business, much to our glee. We had Clint utterances like, “You gonna pull those pistols or whistle Dixie?” or “Dyin’ ain’t much of a living, boy” on manual repeat long before loops were a thing. – Bryan Alexander

Where to watch: YouTube, Amazon PrimeiTunes, Vudu and Google Play

“The Sandlot”: Scottie Smalls (Tom Guiry) moves to town and befriends Benny Rodriguez and a group of neighborhood kids who play baseball in a local sandlot, kicking off small-town adventures with treehouse sleepovers, run-ins with “The Beast” (a large dog who eats baseballs) and the “biggest pickle” any of those kids had ever been in. It was the one movie my brother and I would watch over and over again – nearly as much as we played wiffle ball in our backyard (enough that the grass behind our parents’ house has permanent base markings) – Morgan Hines

Where to watch: Disney Plus YouTube, Google Play, iTunesAmazon Prime and Vudu 

Not Baby Yoda.

“Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace”: As a 7-year-old who wore a clip-on Padawan braid to school, I literally did wear out my “Phantom” VHS after watching it daily for more than two months straight. Revisiting the 1999 release again now, there’s obviously a ton that’s goofy or just plain boring. (Forget the Jar Jar Binks of it all – what’s with all the Galactic Senate stuff?!) But the cast is fun, the pod-racing rules, and the climactic Darth Maul showdown is still the coolest lightsaber battle in the “Star Wars” series, full stop. – Patrick Ryan

Where to watch: Disney Plus

“The Little Mermaid”: I watched my childhood copy of 1989's “The Little Mermaid” (the original clamshell VHS, complete with the inappropriate Easter egg hidden in the artwork) so many times, the movie is imprinted in my DNA. I can recite the whole of it from memory like a one-woman performance piece – not just the songs, but the dialogue and sound effects. When I went to Disneyland a couple of years ago as a full-grown adult, and Ariel touched my long wavy red locks and told me I had mermaid hair? My soul ascended into heaven. – Barbara VanDenburgh

Where to watch: Disney Plus

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The video game you were obsessed with

"The Sims": Before I wrote news stories, I wrote storylines for characters on "The Sims." Yes, my awkward, braceface self-served as puppet master, making characters fall in and out of love as easily as clicking a few buttons (for hours and hours). I have since downloaded the new version and fear I will never stop playing yet again. – David Oliver

And another vote for "The Sims": I also was addicted to "The Sims" and knew enough cheat codes to be able to house my characters in mansions that had huge pools with bars built in the center of them (my signature move; it’s shocking that I didn't become an architect). Though my "Sims" couples had infinite fortunes, I still sent them to work, made sure they got promotions and kept them happy and healthy. Sadly, my twin sister had a different mission: to homewreck my "Sims." When I was away from the computer, she had one half of my couple fall in love with a neighbor, breaking up my happy pair. Am I still angry about that? No, what makes you say that?! – Mallenbaum

We just need a Sims mansion in real life.

Mario Kart 64: Countless hours. That’s how long my friends and I played Mario Kart. What could be better than a super-competitive game where you race through D.K.’s Jungle Parkway, sabotage players by hurling shells or dropping banana peels and have trophy presentations with all the pomp of a major sports award? – Jennifer McClellan

Final Fantasy VII: I begged, bribed and harangued my parents for a PlayStation for months after this state-of-the-art role-playing game came out, to no avail. That is until my grandfather died after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. I went with my dad to help him buy a suit for the funeral – an hourslong, heartbreaking task that ended sweetly, when he stopped at Best Buy on the way home and surprised me with a PlayStation and Final Fantasy VII. An updated remake is coming out in April, and I can’t wait to buy it – with my own money, this time. – VanDenburgh

Your tween celebrity crush 

Justin Timberlake: Oh, how I loved him and thought our marriage would be wonderfully NSYNC. I thought it truly would’ve been a match made in heaven because I loved him unconditionally, bleached curls and all. Guess it's finally time to kiss that fantasy "Bye Bye Bye." – Jensen

That face though, Leonardo DiCaprio.

Leonardo DiCaprio: I first met Leo in “Romeo + Juliet,” as he spouted Shakespeare and roamed around Baz Luhrmann’s Venice Beach-style Verona in a perpetually unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt. Did my heart love till now, indeed. A year later, I swooned and sobbed again as I watched Jack Dawson sink with the Titanic. Like so many of my friends, I plastered cutouts of Leo’s face on my school binders and bedroom walls. Looking back, I should be embarrassed, but I’m not. – McClellan

Rider Strong: I was so desperately in love with Shawn Hunter from “Boy Meets World,” it set me up for a lifetime of falling for bad boys in leather jackets. It also, weirdly, sent me on a path to an English degree. When Strong namechecked John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” as his favorite book in a teen mag, I immediately checked it out from the library. And, well, here we are. – VanDenburgh 

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The song that played at every prom 

"Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" by Green Day: A group of millennial teens hearing “Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road” at a school dance had the same effect then as “Just a small-town girl, livin' in a lonely world” has on a piano bar crowd these days: People grab their friends, start yell-singing lyrics and generally feel, like, so connected. – McClellan

Still looking for "friends that will always stand by me" like Shawn Hunter (Rider Strong) left, and Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) from "Boy Meets World."

The TV show you binged Bagel Bites (or whatever) to

“Boy Meets World”: Before #TGIT was a thing, I lived for TGIF, around when we still thought of # as a pound sign. The bromance of Cory and Shawn, the wisdom of Mr. Feeny and the gorgeous locks of Topanga Lawrence, need I say more? – Jensen

Where to watch: Disney Plus

“Inspector Gadget”: The training course to appreciating better buffoons like “Inspector Clouseau.” But you had to love those insane extending arms and legs, resourceful Penny and solid villainy in Dr. Claw. During this, we’d make go-go-gadget reaches for the invariably burnt Ellio's pizza (apologies to pizza purists). – Alexander

Where to watch: Hulu and Tubi

“Total Request Live”: Or “TRL,” a top 10 countdown of music videos on MTV, hosted by Carson Daly. We’d use the phone (as in, landline-with-a-cord) to cast votes, then tune in to see if Backstreet Boys or NSYNC ranked higher and whether our favorite video from Britney Spears or Destiny’s Child finally got the No. 1 spot. Along with celeb cameos and music video world debuts, this show was something we lived for. – McClellan

"106 & Park": Nothing says nostalgia like retro music videos! My sister and I lovedto come home after school and watch BET’s “106 & Park” countdown of the top 10 music videos of the day with hosts Terrence J and Rocsi. My personal favorite? Anything with Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child, who dominated the airwaves. – Cydney Henderson

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The cartoon that got you out of bed early every Saturday morning 

"Tom & Jerry": It’s wild that a storyline so simple as cat chases mouse, mouse outsmarts cat could keep me parked in front of the TV for hours on end. I’ll still watch episodes like I’m seeing them for the first time. – Rasha Ali

Where to watch: Boomerang

Road Runner cartoons: Thanks to my sadistic sense of humor, I never tired of watching Wile E. Coyote fall off cliffs, crushed by anvils or suffer other humiliating defeats by unflappable Road Runner. – Gary Levin

Where to watch: Boomerang

Bugs Bunny: My introduction to classical music, though I didn’t know it at the time. "The Rabbit of Seville," anyone? How about "What’s Opera, Doc?" (Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit!) – Susan Haas

Where to watch: Boomerang

Bugs Bunny looks ready for a binge.

"Recess": The highlight of Disney’s epic One Saturday Morning lineup. I loved visiting with the diverse group of school friends, from the tough girl with pigtails who refused to go by her first name to the physically imposing boy who spoke in poetry. But the show is worth a rewatch for its clever commentary on class, politics and I’m sure much more that went over my young head. – Mallenbaum

Where to watch: Disney Plus

"Darkwing Duck": I was so obsessed with this weird, short-lived Disney cartoon about a crime-fighting duck who’s part Batman, part noir gumshoe, my parents once threatened me with therapy if I didn’t stop talking about it. For a while, it came on at 6:30 on Saturday mornings. I set my alarm so I wouldn’t miss it. – VanDenburgh

Where to watch: Disney Plus

Relaxing TV shows to revisit

“Inspector Morse,” “Lewis” and “Midsomer Murders”: You don’t need to stream or futz with Wi-Fi, just turn the TV to PBS (check local listings) to watch “Morse" and “Lewis,” two award-winning British crime drama/detective series based on the novels by Colin Dexter. “Midsomer Murders,” set in a fictional English county of Midsomer filled with eccentrics and a remarkable murder rate, is slightly more twee but just as enjoyable and also on PBS. I'm rewatching all three because they’re well-made, well-written, well-acted, extremely literate and thoroughly entertaining for the mind without being too taxing. – Maria Puente

The book series you couldn’t put down

"Harry Potter": All I remember from my childhood is reading Potter book after Potter book and pretending I, too, was a gifted wizard at Hogwarts who played Quidditch in her free time. This series literally transported me to a whole different world. – Ali

Ruth Chew: Long before “Magic Tree House” or “Harry Potter,” there were Ruth Chew’s marvelous, magical chapter books about children and their whimsical adventures with a vacuum cleaner-riding witch (“The Wednesday Witch”) and a metal fruitcake tin that recovers lost objects (“What the Witch Left”). The books have been in and out of print since their ‘70s heyday when I eagerly ordered new installments from Scholastic, but Kindle editions are readily available on Amazon. – Kim Willis 

Nancy Drew set out to discover "The Secret of the Old Clock," and girls everywhere were enthralled.

My mom’s Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew mysteries: Both heroines were no-nonsense young women who knew how to find answers and right wrongs, plus they were smarter than the boys. I loved the throwback ‘50s (or earlier) settings of both, which were a marvel to me. And before that, the book that may have most colored my future (sorry): "Harold and the Purple Crayon," about a boy who could go anywhere and do anything just by drawing it with his, yes, purple crayon. When I was about 4, my parents got me the fancy box of 64 Crayola crayons. I wore the purple ones to stubs; the rest were pristine. – Haas