Reviewers were almost invariably enthusiastic about Paul McGann’s reading on the whole of the Earth & Beyond tape, perhaps a reflection of their delight (like mine) that he had returned to the role—albeit only on audio.
Dave Owen in Doctor Who Magazine said: “Peter Anghelides’ ‘Bounty’ … is the introductory story which Sam Jones should have had. His word game-based character sketches are a delight.” However he disliked the “chase-dominated and generic” story, concluding: “The lesson is that stories for audio need little action but much exposition and characterisation.”
On alphabetstreet (site now defunct) Paul Holgate rated the whole tape 9/10: “the stories are well suited to the audio format, and it is a joy to hear them read by the Doctor himself”.
The audio isn’t officially distributed in North America until May 2001, so there are no reviews on amazon.com. But US fans could get copies through amazon.co.uk. On the UK site, jcavanau from Fitchburg, MA said: “McGann’s Performance is Perfect! … In print, ‘Bounty’ … would be fun but forgettable… Fortunately, this is an audio book, and Paul McGann is a splendid storyteller. His narration is flawless, and he performs each part with style. As with the TV movie, McGann’s performance transcends the material he is given to work with.” He rates the collection 4/5.
“Zepo” at baldwinw.edu gave the tape 8/10, despite being disappointed that there was no theme music. But Zepo went on to say the stories were “well written and well read by Paul McGann and even feature wonderful sound effects in key parts.” Of “Bounty” in particular, Zepo said: “ The story is compelling and interesting… A very well done interplay between the Doctor and Sam is one of the strengths of this story, but even more compelling is the dangerous atmosphere… perhaps the best characterization that I have ever seen (heard?) of the McGann Doctor.”
Richard Burman at Aberdeen University in Wales thought the story “fair enough… a good start to the collection”, while JGW somewhere in Canada said “I love the way Paul reads the question game that the Doctor and Sam .”
On the Ratings Guide site, Stuart Gutteridge wrote: “the interaction between the Doctor and Sam (in what deserves to be her introductory story) as they play word games is a joy to behold. Less so however, is the fact that it features chase scenes aplenty… difficult to visualise in talking book format.” He thought the story “has a lot going for it” and “could make for easy listening on a hot summer’s day”.
Conversely, Naomi Claydon (at the GallifreyOne review site) said the story was “very pleasant listening on a winter’s night”. She wondered why the BBC had taken so long to release Sam’s debut story, “possibly because the dialogue between Sam and the Doctor probably wouldn’t be so effective on the page. Once the aliens make themselves apparent story loses part of its charm.” She was enthusiastic about the reading: “Paul McGann reminds us why he’s so perfect in the role of the Eighth Doctor, even though he reads these tapes in the third person. His delivery is understated when need be… his characterisations are equally impressive.”