By Jennifer Armstrong
Updated September 04, 2007 at 12:00 PM EDT

With the controversy machine known as Rosie O’Donnell gone, the ladies at The View were all about starting fresh with their 11th season premiere on Tuesday as an absurdly laid-back Whoopi Goldberg took the seat at the table. The audience, at least the studio one, seemed positively, screechily thrilled by the new addition, though, in the interest of full disclosure, there is a guy constantly prodding them to applaud or even rise to give standing ovations. (And they could’ve been simply mesmerized by the shiny, golden new set before them, which made all the gals glow Oprah-style.) And, it should be noted, Whoopi was preaching to the choir (sadly, not the nun-filled kind) — these were folks who went out of their way to be there for her debut and, during commercial breaks, told her things like, “I’m so happy they picked you! I love Sister Act!” (Thankfully, Whoopi kindly explained to that overenthusiastic soul, “Those days are gone. No more jumping around in costume.” Amen to that.)

Her performance itself went pretty smoothly, though she still managed to raise a few eyebrows with her exceptionally understanding defense of Michael Vick (the Atlanta Falcons QB who pleaded guilty to dogfighting charges last week). She explained that “where he comes from” — by which she meant the South — dogfighting is part of the culture, so perhaps he didn’t grasp the magnitude of what he was doing.

But the rest of the show remained pretty tame, with standard discussions about that poor misguided Miss Teen USA contestant and a video tribute to Ms. Goldberg. Oh, and, naturally, the girls couldn’t resist one big, Limoncello-laced nod to last season’s zany glory: a reprise appearance of Danny DeVito, whose antics on the show after a night out with George Clooney — capped by sitting on O’Donnell’s lap at one point — were among last year’s many headline-making moments. Ah, we’re a little bit nostalgic already …