Jamesvanderbeek_guesswhopr_240To be perfectly honest, when I think of huge Super Bowl episode guest stars, I think of Julia Roberts on Friends or Jennifer Garner’s two colors of lingerie on Alias. But Dawson Leary as I’ve never seen him before? That’ll be exciting as well, though probably not for as many people.

James van der Beek’s visit to Criminal Minds was announced late yesterday, but during an informal session at the TCA press tour, critics received a little extra information on what young Dawson will be doing after the Super Bowl on Feb. 4.

Ed Bernero, who wrote the post-Super Bowl episode elaborates, "James van der Beek plays our unsub in this episode. And we see a little bit more of the unsub than we normally do, which has less to do with James than it does with what we are trying to – the character, there is something that the character is doing that I find personally troublesome, which is he’s posting videos of the killings on the Internet. And people’s response to it are ‘Wow, that’s really cool,’ because I think we have this — we’re sort of getting into this place now where nobody really knows if anything is real anymore. And I don’t know that that’s a good thing that people find stuff on their Internet — like the Saddam Hussein hanging went around viral like it was a comedy show or something. We’re sort of spending a little more time at the unsub for that reason."

Lest you think that’s insufficient praise for van der Beek, who plays fabulously against type in the dark comedy Rules of Attraction and convincing expressed that he didn’t want his dad’s life in Varsity Blues, Bernero goes on, "And James is a tremendous actor. You know, Dawson is nothing compared to what this kid can do. He’s been amazing, really. Just watching him over the last couple of weeks, he’s really been quite amazing, and just full-on and whatever you want to try he’ll try, and just a really good actor."

For the most part, the Criminal Minds team is just excited to get a dose of Super Bowl exposure.

"I like it," says Zap2it favorite and freshly minted cast regular Paget Brewster. "More people who see me the better."

Thomas Gibson adds, "I wore my Super Bowl pajamas the night before we shot the first day of the episode. It was cool because I hadn’t had a chance to wear them in a while."

Posted by:Daniel Fienberg