For the characters on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” the storyline (starting 7:30 p.m. Thursday) is a game-changer.
State auditors pay a visit to the Pawnee, Ind., Parks and Recreation Department with a tall order: Cut the budget by nearly 50 percent. The budget cut not only threatens grand park plans by Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), but it could mean job cuts.
Rob Lowe plays the state official who’s in charge of carrying through the cuts. Leslie will be attracted to him — until she realizes that his agenda will hurt her department.
“This is a tough time for her,” Poehler says of Leslie. “We find ourselves in this episode and next season in real financial trouble where the government is being threatened to be shut down.
“And what’s nice about the show is it deals with the impact of real people really losing their jobs, but also the comedy of trying to figure out how to decide which program should stay and which should go and who’s in charge of that.
“And what’s really great about (these officials) when they come in to our office, they come into our department, is they’re outsiders who are starting to tell people who worked very hard what they should do or not do with their money or how they mishandled it.”
Other highlights for the week of May 9 to 15 (listings subject to change):
SUNDAY: “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (6 p.m., ABC). Though this is part one of a two-part season finale, the show will be back. Like cockroaches, this show survives anything.
• “The Amazing Race” (7 p.m., CBS). The finish line is in sight, and we’re all the better for it.
MONDAY: “Dancing with the Stars” (7 p.m., ABC). Without Pam Anderson to look at, why watch? Oh yeah. It’s about the dancing.
TUESDAY: “The Biggest Loser” (7 p.m., NBC). Tony Romo pays a visit to the contestants and gives them advice. “People, never date Jessica Simpson,” he doesn’t tell them.
• “Ashes to Ashes” (7 p.m., BBC America). The “Life On Mars” spinoff travels into a second (and final) season.
WEDNESDAY: “America’s Next Top Model” (7 p.m., CW). Ladies, stop your bickering and pose for the season finale.
THURSDAY: “Fringe” (8 p.m., Fox). In the two-part season finale, William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) wants to give a Vulcan nerve pinch to Walter (John Noble)
FRIDAY: “Smallville” (7 p.m., CW). When Kryptonian Zod isn’t happy, nobody’s happy.
• “Friday Night Lights” (7 p.m., NBC). Lesson to be learned: Never move a city-limits sign to a place where it shouldn’t be.