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Mr. Spock, the beloved pointy-eared cultural icon, is going where no one has ever gone before -- the future. Hundreds, if not thousands, of University students will be glued to their television sets Saturday at 7 p.m. to witness Spock beam down onto the set of Star Trek: the Next Generation, where he will make a guest appearance on the sequel series to the original classic '60s science fiction program Star Trek. WTXF-Fox 29 programming executive Karen Schroeder said that Spock's reappearance will be over the course of a two-part episode of The Next Generation, entitled "Unification," perhaps referring to the merger of the old and new series. Schroeder added that although The Next Generation is a very popular series, Paramount Television brought back the "well-known, popular character" to boost the show's ratings for the November sweeps. Like few characters in American popular culture, Mr. Spock has formed an especially strong -- often fanatical -- following among college students. His placid demeanor, his obsession with logic, his Vulcan powers (mind-melding, neck-gripping and the like) and his inadvertently humorous insights into humanity's emotional frivolity have forged an unbreakable bond between the half-Vulcan and generations of student fans. Popular Culture and Folklore lecturer Camille Bacon-Smith, who plans to tape and watch the show, said that Spock is an interesting and appealing character because he is an intellectual reactor to the action of the show, and because of his absolute loyalty to Captain Kirk. "Spock reacts to Kirk, he supports Kirk, Kirk does crazy things and Spock is voice of logic," Bacon-Smith said. "This appeals particularly to Sci Fi fans, who are a more intellectually-oriented fan group." Bacon-Smith, whose book on female Star Trek fans will be published in January, said she is not worried that Spock's appearance on the new show will compromise the character. "If Star Trek 5 didn't compromise Spock, then appearing on The Next Generation certainly won't," Bacon-Smith said. Students said they were "thrilled" and "extremely psyched" for Spock's guest-starring role, and said they looked forward to seeing both his renowned Vulcan battle prowess, as well as his subtly humorous side. And many anxiously anticipated the interaction between the green-blooded Spock and his ultra-futuristic logical counterpart, Data the android, as well the rest of The Next Generation cast. Greg Fishbone, "a Trek-fan" and vice-president of Event Horizon, the University's science fiction club, said "I'm very excited for the show. It's the event I've been looking forward to all season." In describing the appeal of Spock, Fishbone said "he has a human side, and it comes out in a subtle way . . . and Leonard Nimoy is a great actor." College junior Hallie Levin said "I would rather see Spock in Star Trek the Next Generation than go out with Keanu Reeves . . . it will make my semester." And College senior Gregory Cohn, although "a devout non-Trekkie," said he will definitely be watching Spock's reappearance this Saturday. "I'm excited. Star Trek is like a memory from my childhood," Cohn said. But while all are excited to see Spock's reappearance on the small screen, not all were confident that he will live long and prosper on the new show. Unfortunately, Spock's appearance in the future has renewed the bloody conflict between progressive Trekkies who support The Next Generation, and the hard-liners who adhere only to the original series. Event Horizon President Gary Parnes said that although he will enjoy seeing Spock again, he is wary that the classic character will be undermined by The Next Generation's lesser status compared to the original show. "The new show is entertaining, but not as cultish as the original. The personalities are more mild," Parnes said. "I hope they don't use Spock just to attract people. If it's just a symbolic appearance, then they shouldn't do it." "The new generation has turned me off," Cohn agreed. "Maybe [Spock] will redeem the new show for me. It's a good ratings ploy." Of course, some students have chosen to downplay the significance of a TV event of this magnitude. College senior and Event Horizon Member Harlan Freilicher said, "I'm looking forward to it, but it's not going to change my life."

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