Agree wholeheartedly with the "Year of Hell" comment. The sheer desperation of the episode showed what kind of a series they could have done if they didn't decide to play it ridiculously safe, and how did they end it? Reset button.
Because otherwise, the reaction would've been "What a bunch of losers, Kirk and Picard go through worse situations and they never let THEIR ships get pounded or their crews get mutilated."
And also, if they did that there'd be no way to fix the ship and the show would be over.