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February 27, 2013

TV on DVD Review: Femme Fatales: The Complete First Season (2012, DVD)

Review By: Rob Sibley
Cinemax... oh don't we all have fond memories of that from are childhood and teens? Coined “Skinamax” back in the day it was always the go to channel for the more risque entertainment when the clock struck midnight.

Over the years Cinemax has evolved, they've moved from just airing straight up soft core films to actually airing their own original content. The results were nothing short of fantastic with shows like “Strike Back” that featured just the right ratio of hardcore action/violence to sex. They followed up the success of Strike Back with “The Hunted” a spy show co-produced by the BBC and starring the hottie Mellisa George. This was a classier show for Cinemax which I am sure is due to the BBC's involvement.

Next up was “Banshee” which is another winning combo of a Twin Peaks-esqe small town but littered with action and sex. Cinemax's latest show “Femme Fatales” is their latest venture into original programming. What makes this one different you may ask? Well it airs during “Max after dark” which is the prime time for softcore porn. So I didn't have the highest hopes for this 14 episode TV show. I expected plenty of skin and hot ladies but expect muggy soft and all around poor direction and production values.

I was surprised though by how stylish this show was. Sure it still features the winning combination of babes, guns and nudity but it's got a lot of swagger to it. I was surprised to find out this Film Noir tainted TV show was actually inspired by the magazine of the same name. Not surprising now that I've found out that Mark A. Altman was involved with both.

Each episode is about a half hour in length so they never over-stay there welcome. Also to be noted this isn't your typical TV series. Each episode for the most part is stand-alone. Each episode mixes it up a bit, sometimes you'll watch an ep that mimics classic film Noirs. Others will feature a supernatural slant to them. One of the most entertaining eps is an homage to those old women behind bars pictures.

But the common thread between all the eps are the lovely ladies. Which will obviously be one of the main attractions of the show.So if your looking for some lovely ladies, clever story telling and just looking to turn you brain off for 30 minutes. This is the right show for you, but if you're offended by constant nudity, you might want to look elsewhere.

E1 Entertainment releases the show in an outstanding three disk set. The 14 episodes are spread across 2 disks and the bonus features take up disk 3.

The series gets a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer which is very pleasing to the eye for standard definition. Colors and contrast is spot on but I'm surprised this wasn't given a Blu-ray release.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is solid and gets the job done.

Extras are vast and exhausting. We start off with 14, yes you heard me 14 commentary tracks. In the day in age where extras on TV shows are lacking this is certainly a welcomed surprise. Mark A. Altman appears on pretty much all of the commentary tracks and is a very enthusiastic chatter box. His passion for the show is very evident. Other actors and actresses pop on the various tracks. Pretty much everything you'd want to know and more are explored over these 14 commentary's.

All of the remaining extras pop up on disk three, first up are four featurettes. “Creating Femme Fatales” which looks into the shows origins. “Creating Femme Fatales”, “Shooting Femme Fatales”, “Making Love: Anatomy of a sex scene” and last but certainly not least is the San Diego Comic Con 2011 panel. All of the featurettes are lively and entertaining. But by the time you reach the Comic Con Panel which clocks in at a whopping 44 minutes you pretty much already know everything you need to know.

Next up are 14 deleted scenes. But the main extra of interested is the directors cut of Episode 1 of the series. “The White Lotus” this time you get to see the episode black and white. It's also edited a bit tighter but in the process some of the nudity was cut. You can view this episode with or without a commentary.

Next is an odd extra. An isolated score for the ep “Help me, Rhonda”. It's odd because the isolated score plays over a blank screen, not the episode itself.

Lastly is a fun little 5 minute blooper reel and a photo gallery.

This DVD set is stacked (Pun intended) with worth while extras. The show itself is a fun mish-mash of genres with the common thread of girls with guns. I'd like to think if the king of this type of entertainment Andy Sidaris was still with us he'd give his approval of this show. Plenty of skin and action for everybody. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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