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 fuzziness.
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 12 episodes. Here’s who pops up along the way:
“Family Business”: co-creator/executive producer Mark A. Altman, executive producer David E. Williams, unit production manager Aaron Rattner, and actor Nikki Griffin;
“Trophy Wife”: Altman, Williams, 2nd unit director/editor Chris Levitus, and actor Shani Pride;
“Gun Twisted”: Altman, Williams, executive producer/co-creator Steve Kriozere, and actor Moniqua Plante;
“Killer Instinct”: Altman, Kriozere, Williams, and actor Mirtha Michelle;
“16 Minutes of Fame”: Altman, Kriozere, writer Richard Hollis and actor Scheana Marie;
“Bad Science”: Altman, Williams, Kriozere, and actor Ashley Noel;
“Extracurricular Activities”: Altman, Williams, Levitus, and actors Rick Copp, Madison Dylan and Catherine Annette;
“Jailbreak”: Kriozere and Copp/Hollis*;
*Copp goes under the name “Richard Hollis” for his writing credits. No one explains why.
“Crazy Mary”: Composer Joe Kraemer and actor Janelle Marra;
“One Man’s Death”: Altman, Kriozere, Williams, and Rattner;
“Hell Hath No Furies”: Altman, Kriozere, Levitus and actors Sierra Love, Kristen DeLuca and Crystle Lightning;
“Libra”: Altman, Kriozere, Levitus and actor Betsy Rue.
Of course, topics vary somewhat across all 12 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 areas.
As was the case with Season One, Altman dominates the tracks in which he appears. Given that he seems to be the series’ grand poobah, that makes sense, and he does well in the lead role. He makes sure that we get a good array of notes and that the tracks move well. Overall, the commentaries add a lot of nice info and become enjoyable to hear.
All the remaining extras pop up on DVD Three. Six featurettes appear: “Libra Rising – Making ‘Libra’” (12:43), “It’s Not Personal, It’s Just Business – Making ‘Family Business’” (9:42), “Libra Motion Comic” (0:55), “Defining Femme Fatales” (7:53), “Lilith: Daughter of the Darkness” (2:47) and “The Beautiful Femmes of Femme Fatales” (3:07).
Across these, we hear from Altman, comic book writer/artist Bob Layton, directors Darrin Scott and Greg Pritikin, and actors Adam Huss, Betsy Rue, Scheana Marie, Tara Radcliffe, Ashley Hamilton, Nikki Griffin, Angus Scrimm, Ashley Noel, Robert LaSardo, Kristen Deluca, Catherine Annette, Jasmine Waltz, Robin Sydney, Melissa Paolo, Mirtha Michelle, Christine Donlon, Stephanie Daniels, Leilani Sarelle, and Tanit Phoenix.
We learn about specifics related to “Libra” and “Family Business”, the nature of the “femme fatale”, the recurring “Lilith” character, and other roles.
The featurettes have some decent details but they tend to lack much substance. They’re breezy and enjoyable enough but without a lot of real information to make them particularly useful.
Eight Deleted and Alternate Scenes run a total of 13 minutes, three seconds. These accompany four episodes: “Foul Ploy” (2:45), “Family Business” (1:39), “Extracurricular Activities” (4:09) and “Libra” (4:29). Because “Ploy” never aired, that clip should be the most interesting, but it’s just a Lilith intro, so it’s not especially memorable.
As for the others, they tend toward alternate versions of existing sequences or some minor variations/extensions. They’re fairly forgettable, though we get a little extra nudity along the way.
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 an International Cut of “Libra”. It goes for 56 minutes, 43 seconds across two parts and shows a fairly substantial alternate edit of the film.
It adds a few small bits but mostly just plays with the narrative structure. It’s an effective alteration, as it makes the episode more interesting.
We can watch the “Libra” International Cut with or without commentary from Altman, actor Jennifer Roa and composer Joe Kraemer. Actually, only Altman and Kraemer accompany Part 2 of “Libra”; a glitch corrupted the original recording, so that chat came from a later session, so I suspect Roa was present for the first discussion but couldn’t make it for the re-record.
Not that it matters a ton, for like the commentaries that accompany the main programs, Altman dominates “Libra”. We learn about variations between the US and international cuts as well as notes about cast and performances, sets and locations, music, story/characters and other areas.
Kraemer’s presence means more of a concentration on score than usual, but this remains Altman’s baby, and he gives us a good look at the program. Some of the notes repeat those heard for the US cut, but it’s still a useful piece.
”Hell Hath No Furies” 70s Credit Sequence runs 50 seconds. As promised, this makes the episode look like part of a 70s TV series. It’s minor fun.
For another featurette, we get the one-minute, 15-second Red Carpet Premiere At the ArcLight. This shows very brief comments from Altman and Kriozere but mostly matches the series’ theme with visuals from the red carpet. Nothing much of interest appears.
Next we locate a Still Gallery. This running montage goes for two minutes, 26 seconds and shows 48 pictures. These just show shots from the episodes and we don’t see much of interest.
A 2012 San Diego ComicCon Panel fills 17 minutes, 33 seconds and features Altman, Kriozere, Griffin, Noel, Rue, Huss, Marie, Roa and Kraemer. They discuss aspects of the “Libra” and “16 Minutes of Fame” episodes and a few general areas. Some of the material repeats from elsewhere, but this becomes a breezy little panel.
We also get “Bumpers” (six minutes, 44 seconds) and a “Season Two Sizzle Preview Reel” (5:02). The “Bumpers” provide previews for upcoming episodes, while the “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.
Like any anthology, Femme Fatales comes with good and bad. Still, Season Two boasts enough sex and sin to make it mostly entertaining. The DVDs offer fairly positive picture and audio along with a nice array of bonus materials. Season Two delivers worthwhile pulp material.