femme 1On the surface, Femme Fatales sounds like just another T&A series you’ll find on late night cable. Mind you, there are plenty of naked women and simulated sex scenes in this crime series from Cinemax, but Femme Fatales has a little more going for it than your typical Skinemax fare.

Creators Mark A. Altman (who worked on Castle and USA’s Necessary Roughness) and Steve Kriozere (whose credits also include Castle, as well as NCIS) were inspired by The Twilight Zone, which featured host Rod Serling introducing new stories each week that fit into the mold of his fantasy/sci-fi creation. Instead of the stiff, chain smoking Serling, Femme Fatales has the smoking hot Tanit Phoenix playing mysterious host, Lilith. And instead of the genre bending stories that The Twilight Zone told, Altman and Kriozere’s show features noir-ish stories of murder and revenge, a la the works of James M. Cain and Quentin Tarantino.

Focusing on women who’ve been wronged or looking for a way out of crappy situations, each half hour episode of Femme Fatales is an excursion into crime, punishment and sex. Episodes in this first season include “Behind Locked Doors,” a two-part episode about a Lindsay Lohan-like Hollywood starlet who finds herself in prison and must use her acting skills to survive; “Bad Medicine,” in which a nurse must take charge during a hostage situation; “Girls Gone Dead,” the story of a sleazy “Girls Gone Wild” video producer who tries to film an entire sorority house, but all of the girls have an ulterior motive; and “Speed Date,” a funny mash-up of After Hours and La Femme Nikita.

All episodes are well acted and the scripts are full of twists, and are sometimes very funny. Surprisingly, there are some recognizable faces that show up in Femme Fatales. Isaiah Mustafa (the Old Spice guy), Adam Goldberg, Richard Kind and Charlie O’Connell (Jerry’s brother) all have roles. They’re not ‘A’ listers, but they certainly add an air of legitimacy to the surroundings. Another highlight of the series was the way some of the episodes interlocked together. If you happen to watch ever one of them, you’ll find certain characters from other episodes popping up in the background or playing minor roles. This give Femme Fatales a little of that “a ha” fun that shows like Lost have.

Femme Fatales won’t be for everyone, the graphic nudity is sure to keep some people away, and anyone looking for dark, David Fincher type of storytelling will be disappointed. However, if you’re a fan of film noir and don’t mind fake sex and fake blood, you may enjoy this show. In addition to all episodes from season 1, the DVD set comes with a third disc full of extras. There are bloopers and deleted scenes, a behind the scenes featurette and “Anatomy of a Sex Scene,” which shows just how unsexy it is being filmed having sex on camera.