By Ken Tucker
Updated November 21, 2011 at 03:11 PM EST

Kelly Ripa began the post-Regis Philbin era by breaking out new coffee cups and a new logo: Live! with Kelly. “Oh my gosh, that was abrupt,” she said when the applause died away quickly after she was first announced. This energetic self-deprecation will serve her well. Jerry Seinfeld was the guest cohost, a perfect choice since he is funny and has absolutely no designs on taking Regis’ place permanently, and therefore exhibited not a trace of audience-pleasing desperation.

Indeed, Seinfeld navigated what he called “Operation Smooth Transition” with a dapper ease. Using the appearance of guest Jason Segel plugging his Muppet movie as a springboard, Seinfeld spoke for many of us by articulating the truth that many are too timid to deliver: “As a man, I find Miss Piggy a little overbearing.” How true. How often I have wanted to take Kermit aside and ascertain just what hold the petulant porker possesses over him.

Hyping a “big announcement!” from the start of the hour, Seinfeld and Ripa ultimately revealed the surprise to be a “Hawaiian Dream Wedding Giveaway”: A write-in competition for a February wedding “for a lucky couple and 30 guests” at the newest Hawaii resort owned by Disney (which also owns Live! with Kelly). During Ripa’s breathless recitation of the wonder that awaits the winners (that girl knows how to sell things entertainingly), Seinfeld was nicely irreverent about the phrase “private snorkeling.”

All in all, a fine Regis-less premiere. Miss Piggy will be appearing later in the week, and one presumes Seinfeld will be made to rue his words. I hope not.

Twitter: @kentucker