The Geeky Gentleman // Seth Gabel
The sci-fi action series "Fringe" is like an actor's dream come true. They get to play not one but two characters, each from a different reality. I'm not sure if it's a commentary on the strength of a united nation or the debilitating emotional effects of terrorism, but the reality that still has the Twin Towers is home to braver, wilier, and more combat-ready versions of the main characters. In the original reality, they're more paranoid, cautious, and reserved. In one world, Gabel is part of a Fringe division SWAT team, he aims first and interrogates later, and in the other, he's a suit-wearing, glasses-adjusting, IRS-looking detective who asks every question he can think of to solve a case. The former suffered major 3rd degree burns and fearlessly returned to work before his scars even healed, while the latter is plagued by nightmares and insomnia.
In spite of their differences, they share two defining points: they are fascinated by Olivia and they are natural born heroes. What's key in the believability of all the doubles on the series is a change in wardrobe and appearance, but Gabel didn't just look like he started shopping at Barney's and going to a new eye doctor. His posture changed. His mannerisms became more unsure, self-conscious, and inquisitive. Even his rescue technique is different, inflicted with a touch of hesitance. Gabel managed to differentiate the characters enough to seem contrary but not too much so that fans wouldn't compound the soldier's deep feelings for Olivia with the buds of affection that are growing in the detective, thus continuing their love story instead of restarting it. It was a tricky dance, but Gabel executes it well.
Fans of Olivia+Peter might be bummed to see this alternate-alternate Olivia fall for another guy, but can you blame her? He's got that nerdy sweetness, shy pitch, and sensitive way about him that's complimented by Gabel's awe-shucks grin and knowing smile.