Ask Matt: Voting on ‘Dancing’ and Other Shows, ‘Downton Abbey,’ ‘Yellowstone’ & More

ABC/Eric McCandless

Welcome to the Q&A with TV critic (also known to some TV fans as their “TV therapist”) Matt Roush, who’ll try to address whatever you love, loathe, are confused or frustrated or thrilled by in today’s vast TV landscape.

One caution: This is a spoiler-free zone, so we won’t be addressing upcoming storylines here unless it’s already common knowledge. Please send your questions and comments to [email protected] (or use the form at the end of the column) and follow me on Twitter. Look for Ask Matt columns on most Tuesdays and Fridays.

Dancing Past the West Coast Audience

Question: I’m so sorry to see that Dancing with the Stars has joined the list of shows that exclude the West Coast viewers from voting. Why should I watch a show that totally dismisses the West Coast viewers as unimportant? When combined with the missing two pro dancers, I’m not at all sure I’ll continue watching. As for the new set, the focus should be on the dancers, not a bunch of glitz. — Ricki, Oregon

Matt Roush: But where would Dancing with the Stars be without glitz? That said, you have a legitimate complaint. It does seem counter-intuitive for a competition show contingent on audience participation to exclude such a large portion of the American public. Although reading the fine print in ABC’s press releases, live voting on Mondays is available to fans in all time zones during the 8-10 pm/ET hours (via, the ABC app and SMS/text). So theoretically, you could vote for a favorite team — from the week before, not the live show, obviously — during those hours (5-7 pm PT), although your vote won’t be responding to what’s happening live, unless you’re watching from a satellite or pirated signal. Dancing also promises to announce a “big format change in voting” on Monday’s show, so we’ll soon see what that’s all about.

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More Voting Issues

Question: During the fourth Season of American Idol, on Finals night, for four hours I used my landline phone to repeatedly vote for Carrie Underwood (over 700 times). During the first live show on this season’s America’s Got Talent, I couldn’t simply use my phone to vote. I had three options: use the Xfinity X1 remote (whatever that is), use the Official AGT app, or vote on the NBC/AGT website. The website never loaded (and I learned later, you have to register to vote). The AGT app also requires registration, but more insidiously, I learned through reading the Privacy Policy that the app reads basically everything on your phone, so I quickly uninstalled it. Bottom line: I didn’t get to vote. My question to you: How can this (or any televised competition requiring viewers voting), be considered fair when access to voting is so restricted? What happened to just calling in? — Maurice

Matt Roush: Isn’t it a pain to be seen as old-school when the old ways worked so nicely? (You’re asking someone who resists updating his cell phone until the software finally refuses to cooperate.) I get your privacy concerns, but playing along with anything in today’s society requires adjusting to the latest trends, and the shows get to set their own rules. In this case, the website seems the easiest option.

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Question: It is very disturbing to me that talent shows that request your call-in “vote” (Dancing with the Stars and America’s Got Talent to name two] NEVER give the actual final votes. Is this a legal thing, or just another hoax put on the American public? — Gene

Matt Roush: Not everything is a conspiracy. The one time I’ve seen this explained was during the peak of American Idol, when the producers used as an example the Carrie Underwood season, when she was so impossibly ahead of the others that every episode was like James Holzhauer‘s streak of runaway wins on Jeopardy! If they’d let on just how far ahead she was in the competition, it would have dampened any suspense in the ultimate outcome. And that’s the primary reason the producers of these shows are cagey about releasing actual numbers — creating uncertainty, however false. We also never really know how close the voting is at the Oscars, Emmy and other awards show. There are systems in place to ensure the votes are counted accurately, and that’s the main concern.

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Return to Downton

Question: About the Downton Abbey movie being released in theaters this weekend: Will it be available to rent on any TV channels? — Bob, New Jersey

Matt Roush: Initially, no. You’ll have to leave the house to see the movie, at least for now. I haven’t heard what the plans are for distribution after it finishes what promises to be a successful theatrical run. Beyond the usual pay platforms, I hope PBS gets a crack at it, since where would Downton Abbey be without Masterpiece? The entire series can be watched on Amazon Prime Video, so maybe that’s where it will land for long-term streaming.

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Good Enough to Film

Question: Is there any mention of making a TV series from Louise Penny’s Armand Gamache books? They would make a wonderful mystery series. — P. Sulzberger, Florida

Matt Roush: There are so many great mystery book series waiting to be adapted — I’m still hoping for C.J. Box’s Joe Pickett stories to become TV’s next Longmire, and I’m astonished that PBS/Masterpiece and a British broadcaster haven’t yet touched Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs novels. As it turns out, a movie based on Still Life, the first of Penny’s Canadian mysteries, was filmed in 2013, starring Nathaniel Parker (who also headlined The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, based on Elizabeth George’s terrific page-turners). It can be streamed on Acorn TV or rented elsewhere. As far as I know, there haven’t been attempts or deals made to film more in the series. Yet.

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A TV Road Map

Question: I lost The Little Drummer Girl without having watched it when I had to replace my Comcast DVR — so much for “the cloud!” Have you heard if AMC will rebroadcast it so I can re-DVR it? It did repeat its fabulous The Night Manager, so perhaps there is a chance. I could “buy” it to view but don’t want to. — Barb

Matt Roush: You could wait patiently, but I’m not aware of any plans for another run of the miniseries. Right now, it looks to be available for streaming only on the Sundance Now subscription service, and you could sign up for a free trial and watch it during that period. (They’ll be happy just to get you in the door in hopes you’ll stick around.)

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Question: I saw Yellowstone season 1 on streaming somewhere. Now I have to pay Paramount? — Marci

Matt Roush: Last I looked, both seasons were available for replay on Paramount Network’s website. You do have to register, though.

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That’s all for now. Thanks as always for reading, and remember that I can’t do this without your participation, so please keep sending questions and comments about TV to [email protected] or shoot me a line on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush), and you can also submit questions via the handy form below. Please include a first name with your question.