TV Previews: “Awake,” “When Vacations Attack,” “GCB”


Thursday 10pm, NBC
Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter flicks, totally butched up here) plays a cop living a fascinating double life. Months ago he was in a car accident with his wife and teenaged son. Only one member of his family lived—but he’s not sure which one. When Isaac’s character goes to sleep, he finds himself in one reality in which his wife is alive, he has a new partner (“That 70’s Show”’s Wilmer Valderama), and he sees a shrink (B.D. Wong, “Law & Order: SVU”). When he goes to sleep in that reality, he wakes up in another, in which his son is alive, he has a totally different partner (Steve Harris, “The Practice”), and he sees a totally different psychiatrist (the amazing Cherry Jones, “24”). Despite the potential for cheesiness, both realities are completely believable, the drama is compelling, and Isaacs is a surprisingly strong leading man.

“When Vacations Attack”
Thursday 8pm, Travel Channel
I’m taking my first big-boy vacation next month, heading to Mexico for a week at a resort. My mother is convinced that I will end up headless on a beach, or sold into white slavery by a drug cartel. (I keep trying to explain to her: Nobody would pay for me.) Before I head off, I plan to study up on this show, so I know what stupid shit to avoid. “Vacations” chronicles real people’s horrific getaway experiences. So you get surfers breaking their backs on killer waves, fishermen getting stabbed by marlins, elephants rampaging. I think I’ll just stick with my Kindle, the pool, and a cabana boy, thanks.

Sunday 10pm, ABC
With the ladies of “Desperate Housewives” bidding adieu to Wisteria Lane at the end of the season, ABC needs to fill its pumps with another dramedy about pretty women behaving terribly. “GCB”—short for “Good Christian Belles,” and formerly/awesomely “Good Christian Bitches”—is produced by Darren Star (“Sex and the City”) and written by Robert Harling (Steel Magnolias). It centers around Amanda (Leslie Bibb, “Popular”), a former Dallas mean girl who has been tamed by time, and is forced to move home to live with her mom (Annie Potts, “Designing Women”). Across the street is the former target of her high-school terror campaign, Carlene (Broadway goddess Kristin Chenoweth), who in Amanda’s absence has climbed to the top of Bitch Mountain. Expect lots of religious-infused barbs, wackiness, and steamy scenes with a variety of bohunks. —Eric Rezsnyak