Specialties dish up promising November prog opps

Skateboarders, bodyguards, British lesbian teens and a cop thrown back in time. You name it, November's got it going on in the specialty channel space.

While the main nets’ Fall TV fare has been suffering casualties – likely from too much of the same thing across the grids – specialty continues to dish up new entrees that uniquely fit their channels’ DNA and audience. Here are a few of the good bets launching this month:

Showcase is pushing quirky with a new take on genre programming. Life on Mars premieres on Nov. 13 for an eight-episode run (10 p.m. ET/PT). Putting a science fiction twist on the cop genre, the hour-long episodes come from the creators of popular UK crime show Spooks: MI5. The series chronicles the adventures of a smart, savvy, sharp-suited detective who gets whipped back in time to 1973 after a near-fatal car accident and tries desperately to get back to the present – all to a hip soundtrack including Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Wings and David Bowie.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender audiences are getting their most expensive programming offering yet from OUTtv, which is debuting the critically-acclaimed series Sugar Rush on Sunday, Nov. 19 (10:30 p.m. EST/7:30 p.m. PST). Now racking up monster ratings for season two in the UK, the series is about a closeted teenage lesbian growing up in contemporary Britain. The biggest acquisition in OUTtv’s five-year history, Sugar Rush‘s first and second seasons (20 x 30 min.) will air this year, while season three will arrive in 2007. Repeats will hit the air on Wednesdays (9 pm EST/ 6:00 pm PST) and Fridays at 10 pm ET/7 pm PT.

And, last but not least, MTV Canada is taking its usual multiplatform approach in an extreme sports direction with Rob & Big, a new reality series about a skateboarder and his best friend/bodyguard, who’s also recording a rap album. Premiering Thursday, Nov. 16 (10:30 p.m. ET), the show is getting a five-minute sneak peek of exclusive footage with Rob & Big: The Prequel, a broadband offering at MTV Overdrive on MTV.ca. Weekly clips of the show, ringtones and wallpapers are also available on Bell Mobile video-capable cell phones.