Star Trek: The Next Generation, Disaster. First aired Oct. 21, 1991.
When Trek isn’t relying on its strong captain, it relies on its technology. After its writers painted themselves into a dramatic corner, Trek always had technological mumbo-jumbo to fall back on — which means the characters sometimes found miraculous new devices that instantly solve their problems. This episode deprived the Enterprisebridge of both its captain, who gets stranded in a turbolift, and its technology, which is largely disabled when the ship runs into mysterious “quantum filaments” (like I said, there’s often some mumbo-jumbo). Chaos ensues, and all the characters must effectively switch roles: Counselor Deanna Troi, the senior officer left on the bridge, must learn to be the tough captain; the captain, in a turbolift with a bunch of kids, must be a counselor; the ship’s bar, Ten Forward, becomes a sickbay. Trek is a formula show that always knew it had to break the formula routinely to survive.