* THE OFFICE RETROSPECT. 8 p.m., NBC 10.
* THE OFFICE finale. 9 to 10:15 p.m., NBC 10.
WHEN NBC's "The Office" signs off tonight, Ardmore's Kate Flannery will be leaving her longest job ever - nine seasons as Meredith Palmer, "Office" alcoholic and all-'round good-time girl.
Flannery, a comedian whose education at Archbishop John Carroll High School and University of the Arts no doubt prepared her for anything, gave us an exit interview. Here - with some condensing - is how it went:
Is this your only office job?
"No, I worked for Chilton Research Services in Radnor when I was in high school, and a little bit in college. My older sister Karen worked there. She was a bigwig there, and I was doing phone surveys and computer programming, back in the day before computers were really big and when people would actually take those calls. I always got stuck in the room with no windows and no air and the guy that takes his shoes off, with the smelly feet. I did some temp work in Chicago. Every day felt like 27 hours."
You didn't quit your waitressing job until NBC picked up Season 2?
"The ratings were not good that first season at all. That second season, I think we were only supposed to do 13 episodes initially and they kept adding a few more. So, yeah, even quitting my restaurant job was a risk at the time."
You're listed on IMDB.com as being in one fewer episode than some of your co-stars. Which did you miss?
"I was not in the pilot. I originally auditioned for the part of Jan [which went to Melora Hardin]. There was another actress in the pilot, but I think they came up with the name Meredith for me."
In that case, you had an incredible attendance record.
"Happy to show up. One of the best things about this job was having a seat, having a place to sit. Which is not typical on TV shows. To actually have a seat to go to every day is so fantastic. I know, it sounds like kindergarten. But it's really true."
Favorite episode ever, from Meredith's perspective?
"I'm going to have to say 'Moroccan Christmas,' where Michael Scott [Steve Carell] basically decides to hold an intervention during a Christmas party, literally dragging [Meredith, whose hair caught fire in the episode] into rehab. And that episode was directed by Paul Feig, who directed 'Bridesmaids.' "
Favorite from your perspective?
"I thought 'The Injury' was so great, when Michael Scott has to go to the emergency room when he burned his foot. He had a George Foreman grill by his bed. He had it on a timer, because he liked to wake up to the smell of bacon, and he accidentally rolled over and burned his foot. And no one wanted to take him to the hospital. And that was one of the first episodes with Meredith's van."
I can't imagine Meredith's capable of embarrassment, but was there anything she did that you wished your family didn't have to see?
"My toplessness was never highly appreciated in my family. My dad actually wrote me a letter the first time I was topless [on the show]. He sent me a letter with a stamp of the pope on it. And then he wrote, 'Dear Kate. Stop taking off your shirt. Love, Dad.' "