Kathryn Erbe Thanks TVLine's Criminal Intent Faithul: 'It's Just So Nice To Be Back!'

“Goren and Eames rock!”

“Goren and Eames were the reason I watched CI in the first place!”

“I’ve been counting down the days to their return!”

“I am so grateful to have the original Law and Order: CI back, with this amazing team. D’Onofrio and Erbe are amazing!”

Those are but a few of the effusive comments made by TVLine’s Law & Order: Criminal Intent fans as they anticipated the USA Network series’ May 1 return with Vincent D’Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe reprising their roles of Detectives Bobby Goren and Alex Eames.

When we apprised Erbe of the outpouring of support — just hours after the premiere’s impressive ratings rolled in — she let loose the widest smile. “I can’t tell you how much that means,” she shared. “It means so much, and it feels so good.”

“It’s just so nice to be back,” Erbe said of being reunited with the series and scene partner D’Onofrio, after the two vets were subtracted from the equation for Season 9. (Criminal Intent now airs Sundays at 9/8c.)

Like L&Overlord Dick Wolf recently expressed, Erbe would be thrilled if Season 10 — announced as Criminal Intent‘s last — in fact delivers such strong numbers that USA rethinks their decision to bench the procedural once and for all.

“I hope that is what happens, because people love these characters,” she notes. “They love them.”

While it’s been established that D’Onofrio’s crimefighting alter ego will face some personal melodrama this season as he meets with shrink Julia Ormond, Erbe says that Eames’ journey is much simpler. “She is just really appreciating being back with Goren.”

But there also will be, as previously reported, the introduction of Eames’ father, played by Raymond J. Barry (no stranger to siring top cops, as he has done on shows such as Cold Case and more recently Justified).

“He’s not a real happy guy,” Erbe says of Eames’ dad. “He’s got kind of a limited life.”

Happy, however, is precisely the word to sum up Erbe’s feelings about her and D’Onofrio’s somewhat unanticipated encore. “We’re having a really good time with our new showrunner [SVU alum Chris Brancato],” she says. “Everything is just great, and so much fun!”