Joe Mantegna, <EM>Criminal Minds</EM> Joe Mantegna, Criminal Minds

After months of controversy, speculation and anticipation, Joe Mantegna will finally have his Criminal Minds moment. Tonight (at 9 pm/ET, CBS) he debuts as Agent David Rossi, replacing Mandy Patinkin's Jason Gideon, whose mental meltdown caused him to bag the Behavioral Analysis Unit earlier this season.

Like Mantegna, Rossi will hit the ground running. No sooner is the showboating founding father of the BAU called out of retirement than he's tapped to solve the "Have You Seen Me?" murders: Victims find a missing-person flier on their doors with their own photo on it before they disappear. One thing's for sure: This ain't The Starter Wife. "I've learned more about torture devices than I would ever want to know," Mantegna says.

Not that he's complaining. Mantegna calls Criminal Minds his "favorite show in the world," adding that the grim subject matter "runs completely contrary to the reality of what the atmosphere is like on set. It's the most fun-loving group."

While cast members admit to missing Patinkin, they say the addition of Mantegna will ultimately benefit the show. "There's drama and there's unnecessary drama," says Thomas Gibson (Hotch). "It's nice to have a little bit of a change." Paget Brewster (Prentiss), who joined the hit series last season, says Mantegna fits in perfectly: "The transition feels completely organic. It doesn't feel like anyone else except Joe could have come in." Only time — and the ratings — will tell if viewers agree.

Check out Criminal Minds in our Online Video Guide.

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