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Exclusive First Look: Ed Asner Comes to Criminal Minds as Hotch's Father-in-Law

But it's not a happy reunion

Joyce Eng

Get ready to meet Hotch's father-in-law: Ed Asner!

The legendary Mary Tyler Moore Show and Lou Grant star will appear as the father of Hotch's late wife Haley on the 20th episode of Criminal Minds this season -- and TVGuide.com has your exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the family reunion.

Robert Voets/CBS

Robert Voets/CBS

Unfortunately, what brings them together isn't happy news, as Hotch (Thomas Gibson) finds his professional and personal lives intersecting again. "I'm going through dementia and I created an incident and I'm arrested," Asner tells TVGuide.com. "With his status as top FBI dog, he comes out and gets me out of jail. We're not close. He's the father of my cherished grandson Jack, but he's responsible for my daughter being brutally murdered."

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That kind of resentment allowed for Asner to tap into his specialty: playing the curmudgeon. "It's a wonderful role. There I am, playing Mr. Grouch, baiting Hotch and I get to play a character who calls him everything but a son of a bitch on screen," Asner says. "That's what's great about being an actor. You can get up there and you can tell Goliath he's an ass---- and you won't get hurt. [Gibson] is an excellent actor and athlete, and he could pound the piss out of me if he wished to. I could call him a no-good name and get away with it."

On set, however, the sentiment couldn't have been more different. A fan of Criminal Minds, Asner credits his longtime friend Joe Mantegna for getting him on the show.

"I'm not a regular TV watcher. When I had some time, I sat on my fat ass and started watching TV and came across Criminal Minds. I like their style," he says. "I like the forensic discussions that go on, the probing of the psychology involved. I think Joe heard ... that Criminal Minds was one of my favorite shows. He might've encouraged my being hired. They treated me like a prince. I tried to give them their money's worth. They're a lovely bunch of coconuts."

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Adds Gibson: "Ed is just a mensch. I'm very happy to have the chance to work with him."

For now, Asner's appearance is a one-off, but he hopes to come back soon ("If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, go to hell!" he jokes). But he will return to The Good Wife as filthy rich (and just plain filthy) Guy Redmayne on the March 29 episode. The seven-time Emmy winner has been making the rounds across his former network home lately. He previously appeared on Mom, The Crazy Ones and Hawaii Five-0, and he received an Emmy nomination for his guest spot on CSI: NY in 2009.

"CBS, I know them!" Asner, 85, quips. "I used to work for them! Yeah, I know them. It's very nice. It's nice to get meat at my age. The past couple years have been busy and I feel like King Tut and I just got exhumed."

Criminal Minds airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on CBS. Asner's episode is slated for April.

(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)

Baby girl and beyond: Watch a supercut of Morgan and Garcia's pet names on Criminal Minds: