Femme Fatales appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Given the limitations of SD-DVD, I thought the episodes looked quite good.
Colors varied a lot due to the mix of styles featured in these programs. Expect a wide range of tints and palettes across all 14 shows. These could’ve been more vibrant, but they remained pretty peppy and full. Blacks were fairly deep and dense, while low-light shots – of which we found plenty in these neo-noir programs – delivered reasonable clarity.
Sharpness was positive. Some wider shots delivered mild softness, but that was expected given the SD-DVD format. Overall definition seemed solid, without notable fuzzines. Jagged edges and shimmering remained minor, and edge haloes were also modest. No source flaws appeared in these programs. All of this seemed good enough for a “B+”.
As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio of Femme Fatales, those elements also varied due to the nature of the episodes. When the programs tended toward action, the mixes used the various speakers in a reasonably positive way, as they boasted gunfire and cars in the side/rear channels.
These components didn’t add a ton to the proceedings, though, as most of the time the series stayed with music and general ambience. That was fine, as I wouldn’t expect more from a low-budget cable series.
Audio quality was decent. Music seemed rinky-dink, but that was mostly due to the cheap synthesizer sound featured; the scores were adequate given those restrictions. Effects tended to be reasonably concise and accurate, while speech – which sounded to be heavily looped – came across with fair clarity. Nothing here excelled, but the audio was perfectly acceptable for a series such as this.
Femme Fatales comes with plenty of extras, and we start with audio commentaries for all 14 episodes. Here’s who pops up along the way:
“The White Flower”: series co-creator/executive producer Mark A. Altman, executive producer David E. Williams and director Michael Hurst
“Something Like Murder”: Altman and Williams
“Behind Locked Doors, Part One”: Altman, Williams and executive producer/co-creator Steve Kriozere
“Behind Locked Doors, Part Two”: Altman, Williams and Kriozere
“Speed Date”: Altman, Kriozere and actor Reginald C. Hayes
“Bad Medicine”: Kriozere and actors Christine Donlon and Scott Bailey
“Girls Gone Dead”: Altman, Kriozere, and actors Dean Haglund, Catherine Annette and Madison Dylan
“Till Death Do Us Part”: Altman, Kriozere, Williams and actor Jordan Madley
“Help Me, Rhonda”: Altman, composer Joe Kramer and actor Ana Alexander
“The Clinic”: Altman, Kriozere, Williams, and unit production manager Aaron Ratner
“Haunted”: Altman, Kriozere, and actor Tiffany Brouwer
“Angel and Demons”: Altman, Williams, and Hurst
“Visions: Part One”: Altman, Kriozere, Annette and actor Marc Crumpton
“Visions: Part Two”: Altman, Kriozere, Crumpton, Annette and Dylan
Topics vary somewhat across all 14 tracks, but most touch on similar issues. We learn about story/script/character choices, sets, locations and production design, cast and performances, the series’ use of sex and violence, music and editing, visual effects, influences and inspirations, and other subjects.
Overall, these are fairly consistent commentaries. Some fare better than others, but they tend to be reasonably similar. Expect a lot of praise along the way, but not so much that it becomes a turn-off.
Genuinely fascinating details don’t often appear, but we do get a generally good overview of the shows and their creation. “Clinic” might be the most interesting of the bunch due to that episode’s troubled history; it was the first program shot and encountered more difficulties than the others. All of the tracks are worth a listen for fans, though.
All the remaining extras pop up on DVD Three. Four featurettes appear: “Creating Femme Fatales” (13:32), “Shooting Femme Fatales” (29:55), “Making Love: Anatomy of a Sex Scene” (15:22) and “San Diego Comic-Con 2011 Panel” (44:27). Across these, we hear from Altman, Kriozere, Williams, Annette, Bailey, Madley, Hurst, Donlon, Hayes, Dylan, Brouwer, Alexander, Crumpton, Haglund, executive producer Mark Gottwald, directors Greg Pritikin, Robert Meyer Burnett and Darin Scott, sound designer Michael McDonald, and actors Ashley Hamilton, Nikki Griffin, Stacy Stas, Robin Sydney, Robert LaSardo, William Gregory Lee, Tina Casciani, Stephanie Daniels, Isaiah Mustafa, Charlie O’Connell, Melissa Paulo, Anya Mozikova, Paul Green, Jasmine Waltz, Carlee Baker, Tammy Felice, Ashley Noel, Scheana Marie, Joel Rush, Shani Pride, Leilani Sarelle, Kristen DeLuca, Adam Huss, Betsy Rue, Jeff Fahey, Vivica Fox, Kyle Gass and Robert Picardo.
We learn about the series’ roots, development and influences, the series’ style and some story/character notes, episode specifics, cast and performances, sets and locations, shooting sex/nude scenes, and a few other areas.
“Creating”, “Shooting” and “Making” all follow similar lines, and they’re consistently informative. Of course, some material from the commentaries reappears across them, but they still give us a lot of useful material and turn into interesting programs.
Unfortunately, the “Panel” becomes less compelling. Its first two-thirds manage to be rather content-free, as it feels like we get little more than introductions to participants – apparently everyone who ever had anything to do with the series was in the audience – and praise. The last 15 minutes or so get into an audience Q&A, and those moments give us a few decent details, but overall, the “Panel” is a dud. At least the three other programs work well.
11 Deleted and Alternate Scenes run a total of 37 minutes, 25 seconds. These accompany six episodes: “The White Flower” (two sequences), “Something Like Murder” (two), “Bad Medicine” (one), “The Clinic” (two), “Angel & Demons” (one) and “Visions” (three).
Most of these offer brief extensions to existing scenes or outtakes. For instance, the “Visions” bits simply show us what Stas had to go through to endure the cold pool. None of the segments offer anything interesting in terms of character or story moments.
That doesn’t make them worthless, though. The two longest sequences come from “Hands On” (“Something Like Murder” - 7:49) and “Jay Roma’s Crazy Chixx” (“Visions” – 15:21). Neither tells us anything new, but both offer copious amounts of nudity, so I suspect fans of the series will enjoy them.
By the way, although we get no commentary for the scenes, we do find text blurbs that precede all of the segments. Those notes tell us why the clips got the boot.
Next comes a Director’s Cut of “The White Flower”. It goes for 19 minutes, 42 seconds and shows a black and white version of the show. It also edits some sequences and creates a somewhat tighter take on the episode. It’s more story-based, but that’s because it axes a lot of nudity. Less nudity is a bad thing, so I prefer the aired “Flower”.
We can watch the “White Flower” DC with or without commentary from Altman and Hurst. They tell us a few elements of the episode’s shoot but concentrate on changes made for the DC. Though they occasionally repeat themselves, they give us a good overview of the alterations.
We also find an isolated music track for “Help Me, Rhonda”. With a running time of 19 minutes, 42 seconds it literally offers audio with nothing else; it doesn’t accompany the episode itself. That’s a weird choice, but if you want to hear the music on its own, it’s one way to do so.
A Blooper Reel occupies five minutes. It shows a standard collection of goofs and giggles, though we do get to hear Darin Scott’s unusual method of providing direction right before he yells action. That element amuses, but the rest is pretty typical stuff.
Next we locate a Photo Gallery. This running montage goes for two minutes, 44 seconds and shows 54 pictures. Most of these come from various episodes, but we also get some promotional and behind the scenes shots. Nonetheless, we don’t see much of interest.
Finally, Femme Fatales Previews gets into three subdomains. We get “Bumpers” (six minutes, four seconds), a “Home Video Promo” (2:07) and a “Season One Sizzle Preview Reel” (2:56). The “Bumpers” provide previews for upcoming episodes, while the “Home Video Promo” tries to sell us the DVD we already own. Finally, “Reel” creates a form of trailer that delivers short shots from each episode. None of these are particularly compelling, but they’re good to have in the interest of completeness.
While not a consistently strong series, Femme Fatales proves to be more entertaining than I expected. It mixes a bunch of different genres to create a generally enjoyable collection of episodes. The DVDs provide very good picture, acceptable audio and a broad, informative collection of bonus materials. This ends up as a nice release for a fun series.