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SPOCK IS BACK

Published Oct. 14, 2005

The half-human, half-Vulcan Spock (Leonard Nimoy) gets beamed up on a Star Trek: The Next Generation two-installment episode. The segments, titled Unification, Parts I & II, air this Sunday and next at 7 p.m. on WTOG-Ch. 44. Repeats are offered on Saturdays, Nov. 16 and 23, also at 7 p.m. The Captain's log, er . . . plot, concerns the crew of the starship Enterprise as they search for Mr. Spock when they learn he has gone on an unauthorized mission to the evil planet Romulus. As for an update on the pointy-earred character, Mr. Spock is now 130 years old and a Federation Ambassador.

Nimoy's appearance on the syndicated spin-off is enough to cause any card-carrying Trekker a few emotional pangs. It's also a salute, of sorts, to the fact that Star Trek: The Next Generation has done a stellar job in creating its own bold look forward.

Star Trek: The Next Generation is now in its fifth season, and it's the single most popular hour-long syndicated drama on TV. The late Gene Roddenberry, who died of a heart attack a few weeks ago, was the executive producer. He set this update some 80 years further into the future (around 2360 A.D.) than the original series, Star Trek (which aired from 1966-69 on NBC).

Spock pops up in the second half of the two-parter, with the first installment mainly built around trying to find him. There's also an open ending, which means Spock could be back for more journeys into the unknown. How long do Vulcans live anyway? Tune in tomorrowland.

In the meantime, as the original TV series celebrates its 25th anniversary, there is yet another movie. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country arrives at local theaters about Dec. 6. Spock gets a love interest in this one, giving Captain Kirk (Rescue 911's William Shatner) a rest from liplocks.

Will VI be the last voyage? Perhaps. But there's always the movie to be made based on Star Trek: The Next Generation and its unborn string of sequels.