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Created By:
Mark A. Altman, Steven Kriozere
Tanit Phoenix, Various
Writing Credits:

The provocative hit series inspired by pulp stories, film noir and graphic novels returns for its critically acclaimed second season

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 392 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 7/16/2013

• Audio Commentaries for All 12 Episodes
• Six Featurettes
• “Libra” International Cut with Optional Audio Commentary
• “Hell Hath No Furies” 70s Credit Sequence
• “Red Carpet Premiere at the ArcLight” Featurette
• Bumpers
• “Sizzle Reel”
• 2012 San Diego ComicCon Panel
• Still Gallery
• Deleted and Extended Scenes


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Femme Fatales: The Complete Second Season (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 6, 2017)

When I reviewed Season One of the cable series Femme Fatales, I did so mainly because I liked the prospect of ample footage of hot babes. The series delivered that but it also gave us a fair amount of entertainment, as the anthology delivered quite a few good tales.

That combination is enough to bring me back again! We’ll look at all 12 of Season Two’s episodes. The plot synopses come straight from the DVD’s liner notes.

Family Business: “Notorious meets Tequila Sunrise when a police detective recruits an old, ne’er do well college friend to collect evidence about the beautiful mob boss who has taken over Cuesta Verde… and his former lover.”

If nothing else, one can usually count on Fatales to deliver some high-class nudity; with ample footage of Donna Scott, Nikki Griffin and Tara Radcliffe in the buff, “Business” satisfies in that regard. As for the story itself, it’s pretty lackluster. The better Fatales keep us intrigued, but this one remains fairly boring. The nudity helps but doesn’t do enough to make this a quality program.

Trophy Wife: “A woman finds out her cheating husband and his mistress are planning to kill her, and she hires a crooked ex-cop to murder her husband first.”

After an opening at a strip club, “Wife” provides less nudity than its predecessor; we still get some glimpses of skin but not to the same degree as in “Business”. It’s a better episode overall, though, mainly due to its twist ending. Nothing here qualifies as great, but it’s a reasonably solid show.

Gun Twisted: “A man and woman meet at a gun range and end up planning the seemingly perfect robbery at the bank where she works. Nothing can go wrong unless they go gun crazy.”

At one point in time, Antonio Sabato, Jr. looked like he might become a star. Watching “Twisted”, I find it hard to imagine that could’ve happened simply because the man can’t act. Granted, you’ll find a number of stars who lack great talent, but Sabato seems to be unusually flat and wooden as a performer.

In addition to Sabato’s lack of skill, “Twisted” suffers from a number of predictable elements, as it becomes pretty easy to see where it’ll go. Heck, it even disappoints in its lesbian scene between Diana Gettinger and Moniqua Plante; this lacks the expected sizzle and caps a disappointing episode.

Killer Instinct: “A secret agent confronts her worst fears when she is captured by the enemy – or is she?”

Outside of a short – and hot – shower scene at a women’s prison, “Instinct” doesn’t go much of anywhere. It comes with potential but fails to live up to what it could’ve been. Even with a guest spot from the often-interesting Jeffrey Combs, this one doesn’t do much for me.

16 Minutes of Fame: “Big Brother meets Ten Little Indians in a reality show house in which the iconic contestants are being rapidly eliminated from the game… literally.”

After a slew of episodes that favored the series’ noir tendencies, Fatales embraces comedy to a reasonable degree with this parody of reality shows. Of course, being Femme Fatales, it needs to go for black humor, and those elements work pretty well. “Fame” delivers a change of pace and becomes Season Two’s best program so far.

Bad Science: “Terminator meets The Twilight Zone when a brilliant scientist finds herself transported to another dimension where she meets her own doppelganger in a world ravaged by war and death.”

On one hand, “Science” comes with an intriguing sci-fi story and plenty of skin. On the other hand, weak acting – often a problem with Fatales - tends to negate a lot of the positives. Still, it’s good to see more shows outside of the noir tradition that dominates much of what we’ve gotten this year, so I view “Science” as a mostly positive program.

Extracurricular Activities: “A teacher who’s having an affair will do anything to keep his wife – the dean of the university – from finding out about their illicit affair, even murder.”

The most fun part of “Activities” comes from the way it calls back to some Season One characters. Otherwise, it tends to be pretty ordinary.

The plot would’ve been stale 50 years ago, and the episode does little to add life to it. Lead actor Sandra McCoy is hot enough to maintain my interest, but there’s not much else to recommend in this ordinary show.

Jailbreak: “Two women plot to escape from prison with the help of a perpetually lovestruck guard but nothing is what it appears as the girls go on the run with the sadistic Ace who has other plans for the two inmates.”

“Jailbreak” goes the Season One references one better and actively uses S1 characters to its advantage. These feel a little self-conscious, but they’re usually effective.

Unfortunately, the story itself doesn’t go much beyond usual prison movie tropes, so it’s not especially involving. It’s still a program with some fun but it doesn’t become one of the better shows.

Crazy Mary: “A woman is institutionalized after allegedly killing her husband, claiming it was actually the work of a deadly maniac who is now incarcerated in the same asylum.”

Can a show be said to have a twist ending when any viewer can easily predict it? I guess, but it renders the finale ineffective.

“Crazy” lives or dies with how much we accept what we see as reality vs. Mary’s nuttiness. That’s not ever a question so the show fizzles. We do get arguably the best nudity so far this season, though.

One Man’s Death: “After the death of her husband, a politician’s wife finds an unlikely ally in an attempt to solve her late husband’s murder – his mistress.”

For once, Fatales musters a pretty good mystery tale. While not a great story, it gives us some interesting twists and turns as it goes. Add to that more high-quality nudity and this becomes one of the year’s stronger shows.

Hell Hath No Furies: “A frightened witness, the only person who has seen the mythical crimelord El Jefe, is offered protection by a sympathetic assistant district attorney at police precinct 13 on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, it turns out to be a bad Christmas when El Jefe’s deadly assassins, the Furies, crash the party.”

Fatales takes on an unusual genre this time, as it goes for a “grindhouse” aesthetic. That gives it a fun, overheated sensibility that it explores fairly well. At times the episode feels more concerned with style than substance, but it’s still a good show.

Libra: “A woman creates her own superhero identity to avenge the death of her mother.”

S2 comes to a finish with a decent conclusion. It spends a lot of time tying up the crime boss saga that spreads across the season, but the superhero angle adds some cleverness. While not the year’s best program, it ends things reasonably well.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

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.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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