Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 5
SPOILERS TOTAL. You've been warned.
(First watched 2007-10-08) This is frequently listed as one of the top TNG episodes. I am of two minds.
On the one hand, what Picard had to go through was good stuff. Trapped on a planet in another man's life, slowly coming to terms with this and even growing himself some children and grandchildren. Becoming part of the community, examining the drought problems they're having, and learning the planet itself is irreversibly doomed.
On the other hand... the whole thing just strikes me as more implausible than normal. We often see mysterious alien devices, but through Picard we're able to see the society that built it. These people didn't seem much more advanced than we are today. Certainly they were pre-warp. And yet, they were able to build something that could interface with an unknown alien and allow him to experience dozens of years of life in dozens of minutes?
I know Picard has wished he had a family of his own, and this episode has given him some of that experience... but then to find out that essentially they were either recreations of dead people and/or the equivalent of having a child on the holodeck must've been quite a blow to him.
Several times on Trek and Stargate series we've seen episodes where people had unusually long experiences, but are then brought back to the "present" where little time has passed for anyone else. This seems an exceedingly strange situation, yet nobody ever shows any consequences of it beyond the single episode. In this instance, it doesn't seem it would be the easiest thing to immediately jump back in the captain's chair of the Federation flagship if your last shift seems to have been 30 years ago.