The Catacombs Production Guide
Observations: The Lambda Factor

The Lambda Factor

Sally Martin puts a bottle of liquid on a balance and holds up a magnifying glass (which bleeps), reading "3.25 grams". Liquid is commonly measured in litres (in the metric system), Given specified temperature and pressure, weight can be a useful measure (traditionally, 1 litre was defined as 1 kilogram of water at 4 C). The amount of liquid in the bottle is considerably more than 3.25 grams (equal to a small coin, possibly about 500ml/500g). However, in labs we would expect the liquids to be solutions, which are indeed measured by weight to derive the concentration. Presumably 3.25 is the derived weight of the solute. Thanks to David Sobral.

The Lambda Factor

Several wires are visible during the Medical Stores sequence- in this shot, there is a wire across the top left corner, pulling a small white object upwards.

The Lambda Factor

When Sally runs into the Medical Store, the shadow of a stagehand's arms can be seen waving over the door (pulling the wires of various flying objects). Thanks to Shaqui.

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The sub-store has a completely different door to any seen before on Alpha. When the hands are pushing in the door, the studio ceiling can be seen. Later in the shot a false Alpha ceiling has been put in place.

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In the background of these shots is an Alphan with a moustache. He works as a Medic, but is also seen moments later in the Recreation Center with an orange sleeve. His fellow medic is also seen in Recreation with a yellow collar.

The Lambda Factor

The most famous 3D chess is the "Tri-D Chess" seen in Star Trek (1967), which was actually a fake game with no rules or consistent alignment. There are real 3D chess games, the oldest being Raumschach invented in 1907. The 3D game here is Strato Chess, by Dynamic Games, released in 1973 (a version is still sold, by John Hansen Co., California). The 3 levels are joined by a distinctive "S" steel bar, 12 inches/ 30cm in height.

The Lambda Factor

The board for the "electronic craps" game played by Crato and Renton is "Gotcher" by Dacoll Games of Scotland. Introduced in 1976, it is an early electronic game. Players may be convicts, navigating across the numbered islands on the board, or guards trying to capture them. An electronic number generator (the white unit with lights) replaces dice. Pressing the numbers has no effect.

The Lambda Factor The Lambda Factor

Notice the height difference between Tony and Maya in these adjacent shots. Tony seems to grow a little taller in close up. Thanks to Thomas.

The Lambda Factor

The Engineering door does not fully close in front of Alan (at least at the top). In subsequent shots it is fully closed. Thanks to Martin Daoust.

The Lambda Factor

Before Maya transforms into the gorilla, she turns from the door and walks away (to camera). This is so the camera can zoom into her face for the transformation effect. However, it doesn't make much sense that she turns away, transforms, then turns back when surely she could have transformed where she stood. Thanks to Thomas.

The Lambda Factor The Lambda Factor

In the shots in Command Center, Tessa and Sam are reversed, with the badges on the opposite side. Most "ghost" shots use double-exposures, shooting with a static camera against an Alphan wall. The Command Center shot uses the "Pepper's ghost" trick. A glass wall is set at a 45 degree angle in front of the camera, reflecting Sam and Tessa standing to the side of the set against a dark background. It is an old stage trick, since at least the 16th century, popularised in 1862 by Pepper for a Charles Dickens play.

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Carolyn blows Tony away; he rolls over a table and onto the brown sofa. We then see Maya, standing close to where he fell. Where was she in the wide shot? Why wasn't she blown over? The tiger's leap starts from about the same position. As the tiger jumps we see the sofa, but Tony has disappeared.

The Lambda Factor

The Recreation Centre door does not fully close when the tiger sniffs at it. In the subsequent shot with Maya, it is fully shut.

The Lambda Factor The Beta Cloud

Helena states she will use "narcosynthesis", preparing a syringe. The instrument is the "high pressure injector gun" used against the creature in The Beta Cloud. Perhaps Koenig has very tough skin. She doesn't seem to undress him, even exposing an arm, to perform the injection.

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The Command Center operative who stands frozen in front of Sandra's desk changes. At the start he is played by Harry Fielder. At the end, it is a completely different actor. Although frozen, from shot to shot Harry's hands are at different positions on the top of the desk, or by his side. His ID badge, readable when we see close-ups of Maya's chimp, has a picture of Jack Klaff with the name "J Klaff".

The Lambda Factor

Maya is told to change into a monkey. She changes into an ape (monkeys have tails, apes do not). Both monkeys and apes are part of the simian group, in the biological order Primates.

The Lambda Factor

The caterpillar will only run out of air if the box forms an airtight seal to the floor tiles, which seems unlikely. The seal is strong enough to withstand the storm that moves desks around Command Center, but weak enough for Tony to release it with one hand. During the storm, Caroline may be using her powers to keep it in place. Thanks to Simon Frend.
The spiracles along the sides of a caterpillar body are efficient at drawing oxygen into their body, so they don't require much air. They can live in airless conditions underground for hours at a time.

The Lambda Factor The Lambda Factor

Helena is frozen in position close to the doors, but in some shots she is a step or so forward.

The Lambda Factor The Lambda Factor

During the storm in Command Center, a few shots show an empty floor where Tony should be lying, between the desks. The caterpillar was filmed separately by the second unit, so the box is normally filmed on the edge of frame, but this shot reveals that it is empty.

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In Command Center there are two white instruments standing on the end of desks. As explosions move the end tables violently, they fall over. A little later we see another angle, back in place, as another explosion moves the end tables and knocks them over again.
In the last shot, you can see a wire leading from the top left of the picture to one of the instruments. On the back of the moving desk, explosives can be seen taped on.

The Lambda Factor The Lambda Factor

Koenig falls asleep with his head turned to the right. When the camera angle changes, he is mysteriously facing straight up. Thanks to Martin Daoust.


Copyright Martin Willey