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''Star Trek: The Next Generation'' ends in a cliffhanger

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Sometimes even androids lose their heads. At least they do on Star Trek: The Next Generation, which is winding up its fifth season this month with one of its famous cliff-hangers. This one is a convoluted time-travel episode (costarring Whoopi Goldberg) in which 23rd-century archaeologists find Data’s head buried in some 19th-century ruins near San Francisco. ”It turns out I went through a ‘temporal vortex,’ whatever that is, where these snakelike aliens from a different time zone sent me back to the 19th century, where my head got separated from my shoulders,” explains (sort of) Brent Spiner, 43, who plays Next Generation’s yellow-eyed man of steel. ”I don’t really understand it all myself, but basically the crew has to go back in time to save me.”

Next‘s season-ending cliff-hangers have been huge hits: 1990’s two-parter, in which Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) got kidnapped by those evil space zombies called the Borg, was one of the series’ highest-rated episodes. Likewise last year’s cliff-hanger, in which Worf (Michael Dorn) beamed off the Enterprise to choose sides in a Klingon civil war. ”They never tell us how they’re going to turn out,” says Spiner. ”We have to wait till next season, like everybody else. But I’m pretty sure I’ll get my head back.”

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