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'The View' returns with new cast and flawed, but promising, start

A new season of

A new season of "The View" begins with Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O'Donnell and new hosts Rosie Perez and Nicolle Wallace. Credit: ABC / Fred Lee

It's déjà "View" all over again. Entering its 18th season with flagging relevance, "The View" Monday reminded fans that this franchise still has plenty to say -- loudly.

Full of sound if not yet fury, the new "View" displayed flashes of the old at its best, or at least hinted at what sole incumbent co-host, Whoopi Goldberg, insisted would be "great conversation with great women. That won't change."

What did in fact change were the studio and set -- a sprawling, white, columnar mashup of a college basketball gym and Roman temple -- and personnel. The new co-hosts are actress Rosie Perez, GOP adviser Nicolle Wallace, and Rosie O'Donnell, back after a seven-year absence. As a jokey rite of passage, each deferred to a magisterial Barbara Walters during the opening segment by kissing her ring. ("I don't know what all the fuss is about," she deadpanned.)

Monday's show was mostly about introductions, or at least reintroductions. O'Donnell explained that she had slimmed down ("vertical gastric sleeve -- Google it"), while Perez reaffirmed her faith in public service ("giving back to the world is so important to me").

Wallace quickly set up her role as a political expert who will be neither bland nor nonpartisan. (Hillary Clinton will indeed run for president "because that's what the Clintons do," she said.)

The cast blasted through the "Hot Topics" and while the conversation was tepid and uninformative by "View" standards, at least it got the topic right -- domestic violence among NFL players. The show then wrapped with an emotional tribute to Joan Rivers, who had appeared 34 times over the years.


YOUR BOTTOM LINE: A flawed if promising start for a tough old veteran that proved it's still got some fight -- and talk -- left.

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